Seattle stars at the 2017 MLB All-Star Game

A UW-trained engineer crafted the bats used by several big hitters, and Robinson Cano of the Mariners took home the MVP.

Three major leaguers who made this year's Major League Baseball All-Star Game owe a wee bit of gratitude to a Husky: UW-trained engineer Hugh Tompkins, ’09, who developed the revolutionary Axe Bat, a baseball bat with a handle shaped like the handle of an ax.

Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, Houston Astros center fielder George Springer and Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb—a former Husky star who was among the RBI leaders in the National League—have used the Axe handle at every plate appearance this season. With Betts and Springer, two-thirds of the American League’s starting All-Star outfield used the Axe bat. It was the first All-Star Game in which multiple players used the new bat, according to Axe Bat spokesman Matt Peterson.

The game turned out to be a defensive showdown, reaching extra innings and ending 2-1 after Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano hit the walk off home run for the American League to win. Cano was named the evening’s MVP.

Springer began swinging an Axe handle last August, and his success since switching is nothing short of eye-opening. At last year’s All-Star break, he had six home runs. This year, he had 27—a major league record for the most by a leadoff hitter before the All-Star break.

At least six other players on the All-Star Game roster have used the newfangled bat at some point since 2015: Houston shortstop Carlos Correa, Chicago White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia, St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, Washington outfielder Bryce Harper, Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, and the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz.

Lamb’s success has caught the attention of his teammates. Two Arizona Diamondbacks switched, and wouldn’t you know it, shortstop Chris Owings and outfielder David Peralta are having exceptional seasons. Owings has already doubled his career high in home runs.

So what is the big deal about this bat? It offers a grip that is designed to be ergonomically superior to a regular bat. It is said to improve the efficiency in players’ swings.

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