Don Slaught today resigned as hitting coach citing family concerns. Judging hitting coaches seems to be particularly difficult. You can look at statistics, but it is hard to know how the coach actually impacts it.
In the Tigers case, the bulk of the players performed similar to their career marks. They added some home run power, with Brandon Inge, Craig Monroe, and Marcus Thames all hitting career highs in homers. At the same time, the Tigers showed an incredible propensity for striking out finishing 2nd in the American League.
Much was made about the team’s inability to take a walk, but their 2006 isolated patience numbers (OBP-BA) were in line with career norms for the bulk of the players. That deficiency seemed to be more a problem with the players than the coaching.
I had 2 main issues with Slaught. The first was the extended slumps that Tigers hitters seemed to experience. Magglio Ordonez went months without homers. Curtis Granderson slumped dramatically for 2 months. Placido Polanco never got on track. And of course Chris Shelton never recovered after an incrdible 2 weeks. He didn’t seem to have much luck in getting them to shake out of it.
The other issue was that too often very average pitchers looked awesome against Detroit. Since Slaught was in charge of preparing the hitters each night, part of that responsibility falls on him.
As for who the next pitching coach may be, I have no idea. I’d like to see Leon Durham promoted from AAA. He’s had quite a bit of success with Thames, Granderson, and Shelton in the past and he was even able to fix Carlos Pena for awhile. As for what I think will happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lloyd Mclendon was moved from his bullpen coach duties and given a shot.
In other news, Andy Van Slyke re-upped and will resume first base, outfield, and baserunning coach duties.