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We are two months into the 2024 MLB season and the sample sizes aren't that small anymore. Those early season hot streaks are becoming legitimate breakouts and the season-opening cold streaks are becoming worrisome signs of decline. With that in mind, here are three MLB trends to watch with June approaching.

Ohtani using the opposite field

Shohei Ohtani
LAD • DH • #17
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Shohei Ohtani is so good it's almost obnoxious. He's one of the best hitters in the world and, when his health allows, he's also one of the best pitchers in the sport. Ohtani is currently rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery and unable to pitch, but he is hitting an incredible .329/.395/.606 with 13 home runs despite a hitless showing in Tuesday's doubleheader with the Mets.

Because already being MVP caliber isn't enough, Ohtani has added a new tool to his belt this season: hitting to the opposite field. Or, more accurately, hitting with more success to the opposite field. Ohtani is not pulling the ball less often. He's just hitting it with more authority when he does hit it to the opposite field. Here are his numbers hitting to the opposite field:

Oppo %Oppo line drive %AVGSLG





















MLB average for LHB





Ohtani already has 20 opposite field hits this season. He had 25 all of last year. And to be clear, Ohtani was not a dead pull hitter who rarely used the opposite field prior to 2024. He was a great opposite field hitter who has elevated his game and become one of the best opposite field hitters in the sport. Ohtani can still pull the ball and hit it into orbit. Now he's peppering left field too.

Simply put, Ohtani is closing the holes in his game. Before, you could pitch him away and have a reasonable chance of limiting the damage. Only four of his league-leading 44 home runs were to the opposite field last season. This season, two of Ohtani's 13 home runs are to the opposite field, plus he's hitting for a higher average in that direction. He's become an even better all-around hitter.

Arozarena's contact issues

Randy Arozarena
TB • LF • #56
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Now that we're approaching June, it's safe to say Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena has been one of the most disappointing players in baseball this season. He owns a .159/.255/.313 line with eight home runs, and he was recently dropped to sixth in the lineup. After hitting five homers in 11 games from May 3-14, Arozarena is 6 for 39 (.154) with no homers since.

Most worrisome is that Arozarena's contact rate has cratered, particularly within the strike zone. He's not chasing out of the zone more often nor has he been too passive and let hittable pitches go by. No, Arozarena is simply missing way more often when he swings at pitches in the strike zone. There is entirely too much blue here:

Randy Arozarena is having trouble making contact in the zone this year. TruMedia/CBS Sports

Arozarena has never been a great contact hitter, though now he's among the very worst. His in-zone contact rate was 79.5% from 2022-23 and the MLB average is 85.2%. This year Arozarena is down to 73.6%. That's dead last among qualified hitters (Nolan Gorman is a distant second at 75.0%). Azorarena's 2024 in-zone contact rate is approaching Joey Gallo's career rate (70.3%), for reference.

Handsome Randy had a down second half last season (.220/.331/.369) and he's hitting .193/.297/.343 in close to 500 plate appearances since the 2023 All-Star break. This is no longer a little slump. Arozarena is an aggressive swinger, almost violent, but if it were as simple as easing up a bit and focusing on contact, I reckon he would have made that adjustment already.

The Rays are 26-29 and having their worst season in years. They're allowing the sixth most runs per game and scoring the fifth fewest runs per game in baseball. Offensively, Arozarena's decline from All-Star performer to comfortably below average is front and center. It's hard to see how the Rays can get back in the race with this version of Arozarena.

Profar's new leg kick

Jurickson Profar
SD • LF • #10
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Any idea who currently leads National League outfielders in WAR? Mookie Betts and Bryce Harper are infielders now, remember. It wasn't Ronald Acuña Jr. before his recent knee injury. Corbin Carroll is having a dreadful season. Christian Yelich has been great, but he missed time with injury. The defensive stats don't like Jazz Chisholm Jr. enough to boost his WAR.

The answer is Jurickson Profar. His 2.4 WAR leads all NL outfielders, with Teoscar Hernández a distant second at 1.6 WAR. Profar, who is still somehow only 31, owns a .323/.419/.497 slash line with eight home runs. He hit nine home runs all of last season despite taking 45% of his plate appearances in Coors Field. Profar's had a great start to 2024.

Now, we've seen Profar do this before. He was the game's No. 1 prospect a decade ago and since then it's been mostly teases. Flashes of brilliance mixed in with mostly competent if not underwhelming play. It is entirely possible, and maybe even likely, Profar's great start this season is just a hot streak. If it is, it's helped the Padres stay afloat in the wild-card race.

There is a tangible reason to buy into Profar's early success though. He's replaced his toe tap with a full-fledged leg kick, and that has led to an uptick in hard contact. Here is the obligatory before and after GIF:

Jurickson Profar replaced his toe tap with a leg kick in 2024. Sports

Hitters adopt leg kicks when they want to drive the ball more and Profar is indeed driving the ball more. As a right-handed hitter, his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate are up to 90.0 mph and 50.0%, respectively. From 2022-23, those numbers were 86.3 mph and 31.9%. As a lefty, it's 88.8 mph and 36.9% in 2024 after 86.9 mph and 33.4% from 2022-23. Profar's hitting the ball harder.

Again, we've seen flashes from Profar before, and he tinkered with a leg kick earlier in his career too. That doesn't mean it can't work now though. I can't say I would put money on Profar leading all NL outfielders in WAR come the end of the season, but the new leg kick is at least a reason to pay attention to his improved performance in 2024.