Starting left fielder and clean-up hitter for NYU baseball, senior Adrian Spitz has made waves since transferring from Northeastern University after his freshman year, the Los Angeles native, prioritizing his academics over playing for the Division I Northeastern baseball team.
Spitz joined the newly founded NYU team in 2015 for its inaugural season.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to,” Spitz said about his transfer to NYU. “If I am not in Los Angeles, then I have to be in New York City. I can’t pass up NYU.”
Spitz has dazzled during his senior season, posting a .460 batting average, .490 on base percentage and a .714 slugging percentage in 14 games played.
For some historical comparison, Babe Ruth’s career numbers with the Yankees was a .349 batting average, .484 on base percentage and .711 slugging percentage.
Spitz obviously isn’t the Babe, but he has been dominating Division III like Ruth dominated Major League Baseball. Spitz’ notable performance during the Violets’ spring break trip to Florida earned him a University Athletic Association Athlete of the Week selection, the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III-Metro selection for Player of the Week and a spot on the Division III Team of the Week.
Spitz attributes his on-the-diamond success to his mindset and preparation for each game.
“Baseball is a mental game,” Spitz said. “It’s about how you battle back and adapt. I try to forget about my previous at-bats and treat every at-bat like it’s a new season.”
Spitz emphasizes understanding a game’s current situation, thinking like a lead-off hitte — whose job is to reach base and put the team in an advantageous situation to score — and hitting to all sides of the field, which keeps opposing fielders on their toes. He also loves curveballs. Spitz’ eyes are wide open when a pitcher hangs him a hittable curve.
Although Spitz may hit like Babe Ruth, his favorite baseball players are retired Dave Roberts and Jerry Hairston Jr., and current Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner. Spitz prefers scrappy players over stars, such as his beloved Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and his crosstown rival Angels’ Mike Trout.
“These are guys that aren’t big,” Spitz said. “But they are pure hitters known for giving it their all every day.”
For someone who loves baseball as much as he does, it is surprising that Spitz neglects watching any baseball unrelated to NYU during the season. Emulating sports superstitions everywhere, Spitz believes that watching professionals play baseball may trick his mind into doing something different that could throw him off his game.
Spitz’ routine and mindset have proved fruitful. While playing on an improved NYU baseball team — which has started out its season strong — Spitz has not only led the team with his standout offensive season but also with his leadership and flexibility. Sophomore relief pitcher Eli Edwards certainly thinks so.
“I love Adrian Spitz,” Edwards said. “First of all, the kid can rake. He has crazy bat speed and I love his approach at the plate. Coming from Los Angeles as well, we share the same low-key attitude which I appreciate. He is a good guy that I can call a friend.”
Junior relief pitcher Matt Wells echoed Edwards’ praise.
“I’ve gotten the pleasure of playing with Spitz for three years, [as] he’s one of the ten players to have been on the roster all three seasons we’ve had a team,” Wells said. “He’s a different type of hitter, at any at-bat he could hit a homerun over our scoreboard, but the next at-bat he may bunt for a hit. He’s been very adaptable, gladly taking any role and excelling at it.”
Head Coach Doug Kimbler further praised Spitz.
“What do you say about a kid that challenges himself on a daily basis? You say, ‘Think of the team first and you will always be a winner,’” Kimbler said. “Adrian, in his own quiet way, makes everyone around him better.”
Spitz credits the Violets’ turnaround this season to the team’s ability to bounce back from adversity. He expects NYU to be a contender for the Division III championship.
Post-graduation, Spitz seeks a career in entrepreneurship relating to real estate or fashion. Motivated, he wants do it all and not stay in one place for too long. Maybe he’ll start watching baseball again — though he is full of commentary on the league’s activity.
While Spitz predicts his Dodgers to win over the Yankees in this season’s World Series, he acknowledged that the Cubs’ title last season was a beautiful thing, but that they will not repeat as World Series champions.
As to why Spitz believes the Cubs will not repeat as World Series champions, he shared a personal belief:
“[It’s] harder to get the second one than the first,” Spitz said.
That’s hard to believe when Spitz steps up to the plate. He just makes it look so easy.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 10 print edition. Email Jake Steel at [email protected]