It's getting deep enough into the season now to begin believing Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair is the real thing.
LaHair leads major league first basemen with eight home runs, with the latest coming Monday night in the Cubs' 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field.
"He's just carrying out what he's done over the last year and in winter ball, and I don't think he's stopped," manager Dale Sveum said. "He's just got that feeling right now when you're in that zone, and he can't get out of it right now. Hopefully, he never gets out of it.
"But it's a huge asset to have, a left-handed bat with power. That's what we needed going into the season to have any kind of competitive edge, to have our two corner guys (along with third baseman Ian Stewart) hit home runs."
Last year, LaHair led the minor leagues with 38 home runs at Class AAA Iowa. There were doubts about whether he could carry it into a full year of major league baseball after spending all but 65 games of a nine-year professional career in the minor leagues. Some called him a "4A" player, but the Cubs claimed all winter they never bought into that label.
So far, so good. LaHair is hitting .388 with a .479 on-base percentage and an .800 slugging percentage.
"I don't think he's going to hit .400 when the season's over," Sveum said, "but I think the home run pace and the quality at-bats are what you're looking for on a daily basis."
LaHair joked after the game that he wouldn't hit .400, but he said he does have confidence.
"As soon as you start losing confidence, your game can decline," he said. "I've believed in myself the whole way."