Brent Rooker is many things. Rather, he’s one thing – a human of the young male variety – made up of millions upon millions of things – innumerable amounts of cells working in frenzied unison to create that one human male. He can probably tell you all about that, too, smart guy that he is. He could even tell you how likely it is that cellular life like we know it on Earth exists elsewhere in the universe. But that’s neither here nor there. Well, maybe it’s there, in the The Truth Is Out There sense, but at the very least, it’s not here.
What’s here, in Starkville, Mississippi, part of Planet Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy, is baseball. Good, old-fashioned American baseball. Hot dogs and cracker jacks, ball caps and big hits – the good stuff. And in that regard, Rooker is both very talented and very experienced. And coming back to our main point, when it comes to baseball, Rooker is many things.
For one, he’s a junior. He’s an outfielder. Sometimes he’s a designated hitter, sometimes he just a regular hitter. Either way, he’s generally a very good hitter. Today, he’s the National Player of the Week and also the SEC Player of the Week, though the fact of the former seems to make the need for the latter a bit redundant.
Over the weekend, as he took to Dudy Noble Field four times in three days, he wasn’t just a baseball player. He was also a son, a grandson and even a boyfriend. He remains all three of those things now, of course, but they were particularly obvious on Saturday afternoon.
It’s a rare thing for fans to be as close to players on the field as they are at Mississippi State, just a fence measuring a few inches thick separating crowds of people and grills with their food and coolers and cowbells from the action on the grass of the outfield. That’s why it was nice for a trio of those maroon-and-white-clad fans to find a spot in the right field, first rig back from the fence in The Lounge, where they could sit to watch their grandson, their son, their boyfriend.
At some moments no more than 20 feet away, Rooker’s mom, granddad (a great college athlete himself in his time) and long-time girlfriend all sat on the second level of a welcoming rig as they watched the collection of cells they love so much put on an absolute show.
Over the course of the weekend, Rooker gave them and all others in the stadium plenty to cheer for as he racked up 14 RBI and three home runs in his four games, batting .474 with an on-base percentage of .583 and an astounding slugging percentage of 1.158. Rooker’s fan club was there all weekend, particularly pleased by his marathon first two games in which he batted 8-for-8, hit three home runs and accrued all 14 of his runs batted in.
Much of it, apparently, just because of a minimal tweak he tried out some time Friday afternoon before that first game.
“I made a small adjustment before the game in batting practice,” he said. “I thought that paid off well. I was just able to get the head out a little bit more, catch a few balls out front, which felt pretty good.”
“Few” might be an understatement (it’s definitely an understatement), but to circle back to our central theme here – Brent Rooker is many things, and being a hitter is not his only trick. He can run, too.
Perhaps first-year head coach Andy Cannizaro was surprised to discover the secret. After all, Rooker’s career before this season included a grand total of only two stolen bases on three attempts. If the big-bodied outfielder had the ability previously, it hadn’t yet been displayed. But with Cannizaro has come an aggressive approach on the basepaths, and it’s shining a light on one of Rooker’s apparently very many talents.
Over the course of the weekend, Rooker successfully stole five bases, giving him a perfect 1.000 average not just for the weekend, but for the entire season, as he is now 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts in 2017.
“Yeah, I mean, everybody knows I can hit the ball far sometimes, but people don’t know I’m actually kinda fast and I can actually steal some bases,” he said. “I can run a little bit. I’m able to put that to use under [Cannizaro] with our aggression on the basepaths.”
After two weekends, Rooker leads the SEC in RBI (17), total bases (27) and stolen bases (eight), while ranking second in doubles (five). Call him the Brent Rooker Human Body For Cells Who Want To Hit Good And Do Other Things Good, Too. And sure, the season is long, but so is the list of areas in which the star baseball player excels.
Brent Rooker is many things, but for the moment, Player of the Week will suffice as explanation enough.