Jay Bruce says they have a phrase in Beaumont, Texas, where he's from, a piece of advice so profound and bedrock-obvious, it could have come from deep inside an oil well: "Keep your mind where you're a— is at."

Not being from Texas, I had to ask Bruce for a translation. He said it means to remain in the moment. If you're building a house, ponder the next brick, not the back patio. And if you're on a five-week batting tear that looks to be redefining your major league career while also splattering your critics like armadillos under a pickup tire, well, keep your cowboy hat on.

"In the past, if I had success I'd get way ahead of myself," Bruce said. "I'd think, 'if I can keep doing this'. . ."

In the past, way back to, oh, April, when Bruce saw a fastball he even remotely appreciated, he'd hack at it. If a breaking ball appealed to him, he'd make a play for it. Problem was, the fastball often was low and inside and the breaker might bend him like a pretzel.

Talk to anyone who knows Bruce's swing and you get the same answer: His prodigious talent was always way ahead of his hitting intelligence. That's because talent is inherent, while hitting intelligence comes with time and diligent preparation.

Once Bruce figured he could take some pitches and swing mostly at strikes, the good numbers started piling up. He hit 12 homers in May, drove in 33 runs and batted .342. That was enough to earn him the National League Player of the Month award.