Do Hitting Coaches Do Any Good?

Does Chris Chambliss get the blame for the following?

The Seattle Mariners are last in the Major Leagues with a .233 batting average. They are also last in on-base percentage at .294 and finishing the triple crown of lowness, are last in slugging with .347.

So do we blame Chris? Who do we point the finger at?


No, Chris is not to blame.  And here is why: In 2010 the Mariners were also last with a .236 average; .298 on-base percentage; and .339 slugging. Chris was not here. The Mariners had two coaches, neither helped.

The numbers over two years are consistent, but they are consistently bad. That raises the question as to why teams have a hitting coach.

A 2010 Mariner hitting coach Alan Cockrell. It looks like he noticed something.

Besides offering encouragement and providing positive feedback, I assume hitting coaches in both leagues look at video tapes of players swings, analyzing strengths and weaknesses, looking for patterns that pitchers are using to get out hitters. In short doing everything they can to prepare the hitter for his approach on a daily basis.

Yet Adam Dunn in Chicago has had a terrible year. What is wrong in Atlanta with Jason Heyward. Why have their problems been unsolvable.

Ultimately it falls to the players. Sometimes hitters have difficulty breaking bad habits. Sometimes they have trouble processing information given them by coaches.

What you do is hit the ball with the bat.

Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are sometimes in conflict, particularly when mind and emotion are conflicted. It goes to confidence.

And some hitters are just not that good, unable, due to individual ability, to rise above a certain level.

The .233 average of the Mariners has improved. They had been  in the high .220’s. The improvement is due in no small part to rookies. Dustin Ackley .290; Kyle Seager .265.  And Mike Carp, not rookie eligible due to time spent on the Mariners roster in 2009 and 2010 is hitting .275.

Mom’s know best.

Since it comes down to players, perhaps these young guys, along with other new faces, indicate the Mariners will turn the corner next season, that things will get better.

But will Chris Chambliss be here to help or will he be another fall guy?


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