Brendan Baker wasn’t necessarily the biggest kid or strongest kid on the baseball diamond when he was younger.
So he put his focus on being the best he could when it came to knowing the game.
Baker discovered quickly that his knowledge could help him thrive on the baseball field.
And that’s exactly what played a role in the success the recent Grand Ledge graduate experienced for the Comets throughout his varsity career.
That was especially the case this spring for Baker, who combined those smarts with his baseball skills to earn Division 1 all-state honors and be one of the key components in another successful season for Grand Ledge.
Baker, the LSJ baseball player of the year, was the table setter at the plate while helping the Comets to CAAC Blue and Diamond Classic titles.
“I made it a point to myself – especially when I was younger because I wasn’t always the biggest kid or strongest kid – to be able to be the smartest kid and give myself an advantage in that way,” Baker said. “I found out that really helps.
“I definitely think it helped to be able to in situational play know the ball should go in a certain spot in a certain situation and to kind of see the game before it happens and give yourself a little advantage.”
Grand Ledge coach Pat O’Keefe noticed those smarts and relied on Baker at the plate, in the field and even on the mound in certain situations this spring. Baker came through on the mound during the Diamond Classic in both the semifinal and championship victories for the Comets to earn MVP honors.
“He probably is one of the top guys that has ever played for us as far as baseball IQ goes,” O’Keefe said. “He just had a knack for knowing the right thing to do at the right time. He shined there at the end for us in the Diamond Classic when our other starters (on the mound) were starting to get tired and worn out. He just came in and was able to accomplish things that even surprised us.”
Baker also believes some of his success this spring also resulted from an altered approach at the plate. He quit switch-hitting this season and batted only from the right side and found a comfort in that.
“Up until about seventh grade I hit right-handed only so it’s my natural side,” Baker said. “Going into high school I decided I wanted to try to hit switch and maybe try to give myself a better advantage. I decided to just go back to my strong side and make the best out of it.
“I definitely think it helped. It gave me a lot more confidence going up there. I knew I could put the ball in play against most any pitcher and any guy that we were going to face.”