When senior first baseman Jared Love hears the words “launch angle,” his excitement is palpable – and not because he’s thinking about the flight path of one of his 17 career home runs. A physics major and mathematics minor, Love appreciates the science behind baseball.
A career .339 hitter who has a chance to break Chapman’s home run record this season, Love is eager to discuss the fly-ball revolution – a recent trend in baseball in which players focus on hitting the ball through the air instead of on the ground.
“I love it. People can get lost in the sauce,” Love said. “I like utilizing that (batted ball and launch angle) information to try to build myself as a player, but you also have to understand you don’t hit the ball as hard as (professional players).”
He genuinely takes interest in every single one of his teammates”
Love was a three-sport athlete and valedictorian of his high school. He’s a first-team All-SCIAC award winner, owner of a bevy of scholar-athlete accolades, team captain and irreplaceable cog in the batter’s box.
Junior first baseman Andrew Mendonca has known Love for three year and said that Love is the hardest worker he’s ever played with.
“He genuinely takes interest in every single one of his teammates, which is his best quality – not everyone can do that,” Mendonca said. “But somehow, he manages to have a personal connection with every player on the team, which is (expletive) impressive.”
Head coach Scott Laverty said that Love is the best leader he’s seen in his 19 years as a coach.
“The way his teammates respect him, the work ethic he puts in, (it’s) amazing,” Laverty said.
While Love has played just once this season due to his wrist injury – the product of inadvertently playing through a broken bone – he is accustomed to powering through obstacles.
He successfully transitioned from pitcher to hitter, nearly being cut from Chapman’s team in 2015 after having Tommy John surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.
“We had so many people try out (in 2015) and Jared was just kind of OK,” Laverty said. “He’s got good size, can move decently, but he was just doing OK.”
After initially cutting Love in 2015, Laverty changed his mind, calling him back to his office 10 minutes later.
“I just had a feeling,” Laverty said. “And he’s been our first baseman ever since.”
Three and a half years, 106 runs scored and 104 runs batted in later, Love has made good on Laverty’s intuition.
Last season, Love recorded a .505 on-base percentage with a .671 slugging percentage, walking 10 more times than he struck out. With 151 hits in 120 career games, 58 of them going for extra bases, Love has served as a driving force at the heart of Chapman’s lineup.
For the baseball team’s renaissance man, the accolades and success he’s earned are only as valuable as what they help bring his teammates.
“Seeing how your success can help bring along other guys who have their own passions is the best thing about baseball,” Love said. “I want to be successful because it’s fun to be, but I’ve (also) sweat and bled with these guys for four years, and I know if I’m doing my job, they’re benefitting too.”