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Hitting coaches

Posted by mikelink45 , 18 January 2019 · 2,667 views

hitting coaches twins batters slugging coaches
Hitting coaches According to Baseball Reference these are the Minnesota Twins hitting coaches - Why there are years without a coach I do not know. But this is what Baseball Reference could tell me about our hitting coaches. These are the men we have entrusted to make our batters better. Did they?

There are few hitting coaches that make it into the pantheon of greats – Charley Lau was one, but he might not be employable today. Now we want to have the coach communicate the metrics that statistics have called for – launch angle and other details are the language today. So what do we use to review these Twins coaches?

2017 – 2018 – James Rowson supposedly stolen from the Yankees – can you really steal something from the Yankees if they want to keep them? James did not play in the majors, he played in the minors and the independent leagues with a 193/285/298 minor league slash so he was not hired for his ability to do what he is now teaching. “Rowson served as the Yankees' minor league hitting coordinator for six seasons, joining the Chicago Cubs as their minor league hitting coordinator for the 2012 season. He took over as the hitting coach of the Cubs in June 2012, after Rudy Jaramillo was fired. After the 2013 season, he rejoined the Yankees as their minor league hitting coordinator. Rowson was hired to be the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins in 2017.” Wiki. The Twins were .251/.316/.421 before he was hired and .250/.318/.405 last year.

2013 – 2016 – Tom Brunansky was a Twin favorite and his fourteen year career gave him a .245/.327/.434 personal slash. When he took over the Twins the team slash was 260/.325/.390 and his last year it was .251/.316/.421 which is not a big change except in slugging.

2006 – 2012 – Joe Vavra did not come to the majors, but he did make AAA and his slash line is quite respectable - .288/.351/.347 – but not much power. When he came to the Twins their slash line was .259/.323/.391 and when he finished it was 260/.325/.390 which looks like a mirror image.

1999 - 2005 – Scott Ullger had a one year debut for his position and hit 190/.247/.241 which is not the most auspicious of lines for a batting coach, but he coached for six years and his team had been .266/.328/.389 when he started and in his last year was .259/.323/.391 which does not look like much of an improvement.

1991 – 1998 – Terry Crowley had fifteen big league seasons and hit .250/.345/.375 which was quite respectable. His predecessor at hitting coach had the team finish with .265/.324/.385 and Crowley finished with .266/.328/.389 which is not exactly a big leap forward, but then it has not been for any of the coaches.

1986 – 1990 – Tony Oliva was the all star of hitting coaches as far as his own career. He hit .304/.353/.476 which is HOF numbers. As a batting coach his team hit .265/.324/.385 in his final season as coach. The team hit .264/.326/.407 the year before he took the reins. Which means a little less power.

Now there is a mystery. Baseball reference lists no hitting coach.

1981 – Jim Lemon in 12 big league seasons hit .262/.332/.460 which is a really good career. In his year as hitting coach the team hit .240/.293/.338

Once again no hitting coach is listed and in 1976 – Tony Oliva shows up again and the Twins have a slash of 274/.341/.375 so Tony really got them hitting for average.

But once again no hitting coach is listed until -
1968 – 1969 – Johnny Goryl who has the team hit 268/.340/.408 in 69 and .237/.299/.350 in 1970 which shows the opposite of improvement in year two.. This was much better than Goryl’s personal six year stats – 225/.305/.371

1965 – 1967 – Jim Lemon inherited a team that hit .252/.322/.427 in 1964 and then they went to the world series in 1965, .254/.324 /.399 and he finished .240/.309/.369 which means his teams were worse when he was coach but they went to a world series and won 102, 89, and 91 games during the three years.

So who was the best hitting coach? Look at this list of slash lines for the last year of each of the coaches?

Jim Lemon .262/.332/.460
Johnny Goryl 268/.340/.408
Designated hitter became part of the team rules.
Tony Oliva 265/.324/.385
Terry Crowley .250/.345/.375
Scott Ullger .259/.323/.391
Joe Vavra 260/.325/.390 ,
Tom Brunansky .251/.316/.421
James Rowson .250/.318/.405

The range in BA is 250 – 268 and in recent years this has been on the low end; On Base 318 – 345 and the two lowest On base averages were with the most recent; while the slugging was highest in the first years it has ranged from 375 to 460 and the last two hitting coaches have been second and fourth in this stat. It appears that all the strategies of hitting, fielding, pitching keep evening out and the coach is a nice guy to have on the team.

Since writing this blog the Athletic came up with this article - https://theathletic....rce=weeklyemail - about the new wave of hitting coaches and strategies. I believe we are in a strato-matic universe and it comes down to our coaches having better stats than your coaches.

  • ToddlerHarmon likes this

Jan 27 2019 01:46 PM

Thanks for the research. This is a topic to wonder about, but it is very hard to break the stats away from things like league-wide trends and team talent levels.


For example, I always had the impression that Vavra was an effective hitting coach. What does it mean that the 2006 team had the same offense as a less-talented 2012 team? Did he do well in getting the most out of talent?


For me, since I root for the Twins to win championships, I am most focused on whether major league coaches get elite performance out of elite talent. It strikes me that our most recent coaches have failed at this, though again it is hard to know whether our belief that we have elite talent is correct.


    • mikelink45 likes this