The San Francisco Giants now have a new President of Baseball Operations in Farhan Zaidi. Zaidi has a number of issues to tackle, but could one of them be getting a new hitting coach?
The hitting coach position seems to be one of the most disposable positions in baseball. When teams are hitting well, the hitting coach barely gets recognized.
However, when the team is not hitting, it seems the target on that hitting coach’s back gets bigger with every strike out.
It is an unstable position. And, apparently it is one of the quickest positions to replace:
Per Eno Sarris, the average tenure for a hitting coach is 1.5 years. That is not a very long shelf life. So, with that being in mind. It is fair to question whether Alonzo Powell might be on the hot seat.
Giants fans do not need stats to confirm how horrid the offense was last season. However, stats do further express the point.
One of the bigger changes in the Giants approach last season was the high rate of strike outs. The Giants struck out 1,467 times last season. It really felt like 2,000 strikeouts.
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Only the Padres and Phillies struck out more times as a team last season in the National League. There was one big difference between the Phillies, Giants, and Padres: home runs.
The Phillies hit 186 home runs, whereas the Padres hit 162 home runs. The Giants wish they could hit 162 home runs, but sadly they were perfectly comfortable with 133 home runs.
Striking out a ton is fine, if the team compensates that with more power. However, the Giants did not reach that compromise. In fact, the Giants only hit 5 more home runs than they did in the previous season. So, were all those strike outs really worth it?
In addition to the lack of power, this San Francisco Giants team struggled to even get on-base. The Giants posted a cool .300 OBP as a team. Only the Padres’ .297 OBP was lower in the National League.
But, then again, the Padres hit way more home runs. Not surprisingly, the Giants posted a .667 OPS, which was second lowest to the rebuilding Miami Marlins.
These stats may not correctly capture the job that Powell did, but they are red flags. They cannot continue into next season without a change. Perhaps, Powell did not have the personnel. That is a fair argument.
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However, one stat stands out among the rest. The Giants inability to hit with runners in scoring position. As a team, the Giants hit .239 with runners in scoring position. Surprisingly, 4 teams posted a lower batting average than the Giants with runners in scoring position. Those teams also hit more home runs.
The inability to hit with runners in scoring position was frustrating to watch. It seemed Giants hitters did not have an approach when they came up with a runner in scoring position. More often than not, they would just strike out.
This is the part of the game where coaching comes in to play. It looked like the Giants made no adjustments. They could not move runners over. They could not generate runs when runners were in scoring position. And, they could not bunt.
These failures reflect directly on the coaching staff. The hitting coach usually is held responsible when a team cannot execute in these areas. And, the 2018 San Francisco Giants team seemed to be one of the worst in terms of executing and situational hitting.
With how short the shelf life is of a hitting coach, it is fair to wonder whether Powell could be on the hot seat. To his benefit, he did come from Astros organization that excelled at hitting, and he was part of that. However, with a new front office in place, Zaidi might determine that it is time for a change.