As a New York Mets fan, junior Charlie Kruer has some reservations about idolizing Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard. But in the past couple of weeks, Kruer, also a left-handed power-hitter, has put up numbers that come close to rivaling those of last year’s National League’s most valuable player.
Last week, the GW centerfielder was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week after hitting .500 with three home runs and eight RBIs during a five-game span. In a three-game series against Richmond, Kruer had his way with the Spiders’ pitching, recording 16 total bases and slugging 1.455.
After a sluggish beginning to the season at the plate, Kruer said that nabbing “player of the week” honors was a sign that he is finally out of his slump.
“It’s a big deal for me,” Kruer said. “We were facing some good teams, and the weather was kind of cold, so I was struggling a little bit, I’m seeing the ball much better now, and I’m hitting pitches that I can handle.”
Kruer’s batting average is .321 with a .398 on-base percentage. He has hit eight home runs, only one shy of his team-high of nine a year ago.
The Old Bridge, N.J., native continued his hitting tear this week by putting the Colonials’ first tallies on the board against Towson on Tuesday, which GW won 9-3, with a two-RBI double with the bases loaded in the first inning.
Moving to the cleanup spot in the batting order this year has produced noticeable results, despite the fact that teams are pitching around Kruer and throwing him fewer fastballs. The centerfielder said he has responded by working to better recognize changeups, curveballs and sliders as they come out of the pitcher’s hand.
“Once the teams get a scouting report on you, they pitch to get you out,” Kruer said. “They saw me last year and I got a little time freshman year also, so it’s just basically being patient and waiting for something that I can handle.”
Assistant coach Jim Mason said that the junior’s recent success is actually what has been expected from him from the start. Kruer was an Atlantic 10 All-Conference Honorable Mention last season while leading the Colonials in slugging percentage, hits, RBI, home runs and total bases.
“He’s one of the best players in the conference like he was last year, and he continues to get better with each passing week,” Mason said.
Kruer seems to have a knack for coming up with big hits, including a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs against that allowed the Colonials to clinch the final seed in the A-10 Baseball Championship last season. He was also responsible for a home run against Rhode Island in the 7th inning to help eliminate the top-seeded Rams less than a week later. Still, Kruer brushed aside the label of clutch hitter, explaining that he just happens to be in the right place at the right time.
With the lineup coming together and the Colonials scoring more runs than at the beginning of the season, Kruer said that he will be disappointed if GW, which is currently sitting at 2-4 in the conference, does not make the A-10 Baseball Championship.
“Every team is pretty close skill-wise, so every game is a battle,” he said. “The A-10 is wide open, so that really motivates us because we have a good shot at making the tournament.”
Kruer said that his significant playing time as a freshman helped ease the transition from high school baseball to college baseball and set a foundation for the remainder of his GW career.
“I knew what to expect come sophomore year, like what the pitching was going to be like and the speed of the game, so I really understood quickly how to handle the different situation,” he said.
Although his ultimate goal is to play professionally one day, Kruer said that for now he wants to steadily improve his numbers each year.