Look, we all know this team is doing horrifically bad, in fact you could probably say historically bad. Coming into a season which held the highest expectations for the Angels did not go as well as anticipated. Let's face it though, this is the kind of thing that happens to every team every year, it happens to the best of teams and it happens to the worst of teams. During this tough stretch there have been a lot of people calling out Mickey Hatcher and the organization for allowing this "hack" to still hold a job as a hitting coach even though he's proven to be incredibly ineffective as a hitting coach. I should rephrase that, this is a call that has been coming from Angel fans for a long time.But why exactly?
People say, "Because he's ruined our young prospects!" Or that, "He ruins our hitters' swings!" And things like, "He's so bad our hitters have to go to other hitting coaches to get help!"
Well some of these may or may not be true, but all I see are vague accusations. What exactly is it about him that is so detrimental to our hitters?
Hitting the obvious nail on the head, he cannot instill patience into our hitters. Why is this? It is because he lacks strong grasp of how to be a patient hitter, all he can do is tow the company line of "well we need to be more patient. We need to stop swinging at pitches outside the zone and work at hitting pitches over the plate".
Well that's all fine and dandy, but how do you get your hitters to do that? By repeating those phrases at them until they end up working themselves out of a funk? Hatcher needs to teach these hitters how to properly control the strike zone, but he can't because as a hitter himself he could never control the count. In Hatcher's career as a ballplayer he only managed to work 164 walks, in 3607 plate apperances. Just to make sure your brain fully soaks up this information, he stepped up to the plate 3607 times in his career and only managed to walk 167 of those times, his season-high being 37 in 1984. Vladimir Guerrero, another player with notoriously bad control of the strike zone, had a career high of 84 walks, dipping lower than 37 only 4 times in his career. At this point it would look better to have Vladdy our hitting coach over Hatcher, huh?
If Hatcher wasn't hitting the ball, he wasn't getting on base, this is something that is made very clear by his .313 OBP. He didn't rely on superior plate control to get him on base, only his bat. It isn't hard to understand why the Angels would have continuous struggles with controlling the strike zone when you take a look at the kind of career Hatcher had as a player. This is magnified when you look at all the young hitters the Angels have developed and their plate control that ranges from terrible to mediocre. Howie Kendrick? Erick Aybar? Jeff Mathis? Peter Bourjos? Mark Trumbo? It's really no coincidence that the hitters developed by this organization come up to the big leagues and struggle with strike zone control and plate discipline.
What the Angels really need is a guy who doesn't just tell the hitters what to do, he teaches them. Mickey Hatcher has never really been a remarkable hitter, at best he was just pretty decent. Nothing about Mickey Hatcher stood out, not his contact abilities (career .280 BA) and definitely not his power (career .690 OPS), so what was the quality that made the Angels say "we need to have this man as our hitting coach". The only thing that Hatcher can pass on to his hitters is a mediocre understanding of hitting in general, the Angels need a guy that can really teach these players what they're supposed to be doing at the plate. They need a guy who has superior understanding of hitting, and not just putting the bat on the ball, everything that comes with stepping into the batters box.
If I had a choice as to who would be the teams hitting coach I would pick Tim Salmon in a heartbeat. Not only does he have that superior understanding needed, he can teach and spread knowledge through this entire team.
But hey, what do I know? I'm just some fan who poked holes all over Mickey Hatcher.
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Oh, yeah. It's the coaching. Definitely. Once they replace the hitting, bullpen, infield and outfield coaches and base running coach the Angels will be in the catbird seat. A change of groundskeeper might not be a bad idea while we're at it.
The point was made below, but worth bringing up again: How good a hitter a person was, is never indicative of how good a coach he will be. Look around the league and his point is easily reinforced. As to the philosophy, these things are an organizational approach to the game, not just one coach's. It gets preached in the minors before a player ever reaches the big club. He may be a proponent and was why he was hired, but Scioscia is much more vocal about "aggressiveness at the plate" than anyone. With all that said, I have thought since the day he was hired that Hatcher should not be the hitting coach and feel more stongy about it day by after day because of one thing: RESULTS. That is the one masurable and the best case for a new hitting coach. But, if we think Scioscia is too loyal to aging players, how loyal do you think he is to old teammates? At least he offsets the taciturn Scioscia.
Team hasn't been the same since we lost Maddon.
I'm not so sure one can simply base how good a hitting coach is on how he hit when he played. How many hitting coaches has Mark Reynolds had, or Jai Miller, and neither can make contact anywhere close to 50% of swings. I don't know of any hitting coach who, wherever and whenever, could get guys to hit no matter what. It's not like pitching coaches, hitting is so personal, physically and mentally. No hitting coach I recall was in demand every year, pitching coaches sure. In the end, 90% of a hitter's success is his own fault.
@Rick K. Methinks your frustration with the ballclub is making it hard or you to see the point of this article. I'm not saying "Well let's fire Hatcher because he sucks as a hitting coach guys!". I'm examining what kind of hitting philopsophy he had as a hitter, which would have carried over to his coaching, and whether or not that philosophy is suitable for our hitters. You should probably clear your mind of all this pent up frustration you have with this team and read the article again.
@Double Down Yes, hitters do have to execute at the end of the day, but the point with Hatcher is that he is responsible for instilling a philosophy in them and his philosophy as a hitter was a free-swinger. He didn't strike out much because he was a good contact guy, but also because he swang early and often. This team, like Hatcher, has always been very aggressive early in counts. That mindset is killing them right now and they need to change. A change in philosophy would suggest that someone more well versed in that new philosophy should be the one instilling it in the club, not Hatcher and his antithetical approach.
@rmfalla OK. Done. Funeral yesterday so I was totally not thinking baseball all day long. And...
I am still not seeing the point of this article.
His philosophy as a hitter was to squeeze the most out of his extremely limited talent. That seems like a pretty good idea to me. Ever see him play? "Extremely limited" is very generous, be it with the bat or the glove. Was he a better coach in '09 or '10? Was he better the year Vlad came over and pummeled AL pitching? If not, how did he put the screws to Albert? And everyone else simultaneously?
I have no idea how good a coach he is. Maybe a change of staff is good once in a while. It helped keep M*A*S*H, Cheers and CSI fresh and more interesting. And it seems to me that replacing McClellan with Burnside and Casey with Petraeus were good decisions so I'm not against the idea in concept. I'm just wondering if the same people who place so much value in all kinds of obscure stats can also show me empirical statistical evidence that the trouble begins and ends with Hatcher. If you can't find any argument but "Hatcher Sucks" then you've lost me. I no longer allow for bumper sticker-length "logic" to convince me and neither should anyone else who fell for something as trite (Adjective:(of a remark, opinion, or idea) Overused and consequently of little import; lacking originality or freshness.) as "Hope And Change". Can you convince me that this is nothing other than a diatribe aimed at Hatcher but really is misdirected anger about Albert and the other guys you can't yell at?
@rmfalla BTW, I am not looking for personal stats. I am looking for stats that show him to be an inferior hitting coach. I'm not here to defend him. Just prove your point. Or, if you just hate him, say so. I can accept it either way.
@rmfalla No, I did not miss the part about his personal stats. I have already stipulated to his lack of talent. His OPS is irrelevant since he had no power to boost it (although it would be nice if Albert could reach those lofty heights) and the .280 BA is NOT the same as his contact rate. He was a choke batter who, and I'm guessing without looking it up, did not strike out that much but lacked the strength to muscle the ball through the infield or between the outfielders for extra base hits. In fact, it was really comical (or painful, depending on how you looked at it) to watch him chug and flop gracefully into second base with the occasional double.
Also, I'm mystified at bringing up "every young player this team has brought up to the bigs". By definition didn't they receive the bulk of their coaching by guys at the minor league level? It seems a little much to expect a turnaround on Sunday by a guy who was called up on Saturday afternoon. Hows about we replace some minor league hitting coaches?
Charley Lau, regarded as one of the best ever with disciples such as Walt Hriniak, hit a crushing .255 with and OPS of .683 over his 10-year career and his position is still listed as "pinch hitter" so he was apparently never considered good enough to be an EDP. Jeff Manto somehow got parts of eleven years to prove himself and his lifetime average was .230. We have yet to see how his hitting coach career turns out but Hatcher's .280 looks pretty darn good all of a sudden, eh?
But, yes. I still admit to missing the point of the article. For some reason it still resembles a hit piece to me.
@Rick K. I'm sorry to hear about that, I hope you're doing fine yourself
Now about the article you are still completely missing the point. The fact that you say his philosophy is to get the best out of extremely limited talent is irrelevant. That's what ever coaches job is to do, get the best out of what they have, it's a given that this is what everyone's philosophy is supposed to. You don't think that every other player with limited talent has the same mindset? Of course they do.
Don't point to players who were already superstars that came to Anaheim and continued to be superstars, all you have to do is look at every young player this team has brought up to the bigs and just watch them at the plate. No discipline, no patience, no idea of how to control the strike zone. Where do you think that those values as a hitter come from? Oh that's right, the coaching staff. If he can't teach important values to young hitters making their way into the bigs then he has no place on this staff, plain and simple.
You must have missed the parts where I point out stats and numbers that bring light to the fact that Hatcher had no strike zone control and no patience, how in the world is a coach supposed to be able to teach that when he had no grasp of those concepts as a player himself? He was a free swinger, that's all he was, and now that the Angels want to preach patience and plate discipline they need a hitting coach who can instill that into a player, something that once again, Hatcher is not capable of. I