"The numbers didn't show, but I was killing the ball," Hunter said. "I wasn't changing for nothing. You saw the 0-for-4, but I had four bullets, and I said I have to keep that going. And now it's dropping the last month or so."
Nobody in the American League with at least 70 at-bats in July entering Friday had a higher OPS for the month than Hunter's 1.058 clip. His .357 batting average ranked fifth in that group, while his .671 slugging percentage trailed only Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen among Major League regulars.
Eleven of Hunter's first 25 hits in July went for extra bases, including five doubles, five homers and a triple. In most cases, those extra bases have come off line drives he has pulled toward the gap or into the left-field corner.
"He swung the bat pretty well when he came back and wasn't getting many hits," manager Brad Ausmus said, "but there was a point a couple homestands ago when he was really working on getting his weight [balance] back, loading his hands, getting his hands and weight back and driving the ball. He's certainly done that."
That's something he was working on while he was still out with hamstring issues a month ago. He kept it up once he returned.
Both Ausmus and Hunter suggest the move down the batting order has nothing to do with it. That said, he's batting .290 in the fifth spot, 26 points higher than he has hit this season batting second. His OPS, however, is higher in the second spot (.778) than fifth (.754).
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.