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Do Pitching or Hitting Coaches matter


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Here is an interesting article on the effect of coaching on hitters & pitchers. It is numbers heavy. If you have a baseball prospectus subscription enjoy.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23626

Conclusion:

"The one thing that we can take from these findings is that we need to be careful about the pitching (or hitting coach) who gets the “genius” tag after a couple of his pitchers (or hitters) have a good year. He might very well be a genius, but these results suggest that going forward, the chances that he’ll repeat that work are random. We need to get away from the auteur model of coaching (and film-making). Pulp Fiction was a wonderful movie, and Quentin Tarantino had a lot to do with it, but to credit only him for the movie would be a mistake. In the same way, when a hitter (or pitcher) does emerge, we can’t just reflexively give all the credit to his pitching coach and assume that past performance is indicative of future results. There was untapped potential there, and perhaps a very specific set of circumstances that allowed the hitting coach, purposefully or not, to unlock it. Thus, the coach’s results are primed for regression.

Unfortunately, that makes it really hard to answer the question, “Who is the best hitting coach?” The answer might just be “the one who happens to be in the right place at the right time.”"

Something to remember when everyone believed a coach is the best or the worst.

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while I agree that there are so many circumstantial instances where a coach will find the right mix to really help a player maximize his potential, like any profession there are going to be some that are consistently better at it than others.   It would be like saying that over a large sample all major leaguers are the same because they are major leaguers.  It's not all just luck of the draw. 

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The way I look at hitting and pitching coaches is similar to golf swing coaches.  They absolutely do make a difference, but you could get the best instruction in the world, but if you don't tango, it won't help.  

 

And I also believe a swing, and a pitch are similar to a golf swing.  You can go on a hot streak, and your swing can be right on.  This could last for a few weeks, or even months.  But slowly and surely, you will then incorporate "bad habits" in golf terms into your swing or pitch.  One bad habit, turns to compensation with another bad habit, and then all of a sudden your hot streak goes cold.  

 

IMO, the better pitching and hitting coaches can recognize when you start those bad habits, and try to correct them then.  Instead of waiting for you to go completely cold, then trying to figure out what went wrong.  

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This article, for those who don't have the subscription, isn't just opinion. He took a lot of data. He did his best to factor out random variation and the data showed no hitting or pitching coach in the last 20 years had any consistent positive influence on his hitters or pitchers in any particular stat. You all can have opinions but the stats show no coach has no consistent positive or negative effects on the players.

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My sense of this board (and no, I don't have data to support my view):

 

Before the season: The starting pitching is questionable and the bullpen sucks.

 

Performance to date: Better than league average (depending on which pitching stat you like, somewhere around no. 5 out of 15 in the AL).

 

Pitching coach: Butcher sucks.

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I'm looking forward to Baylor coming back. This team has a lot of swing and miss to it that hurts them with RISP and I think the way he emphasized contact can only help.

If they can help, they can also hurt. Players are different when it comes to personality, skill set, taking advice from coaches. Generally emphasizing may help, but it may not.

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Couldn't agree more with the OP and remember having many a argument about this subject because people wanted to blame Hatcher/Eppard for Pujols struggling or blaming Butcher for Blanton's failures (while obviously not giving credit for the success of Weaver, Wilson, Richards, etc.) with many variations inbetween.

 

By the time guys get up to this level their skill set is generally already set (sure you get the guys like Ankiel that change positions or mechanics) and for the most part are the guys they are going to be......I'm sure the number dictate players stay a level plane throughout their careers more times than the Bautista's that suddenly get it together after x amount of years and play like all-stars.

 

Thus, I believe coaches at this level have minimal impact (completely the opposite of youth, high school, college coaches, etc. that develop) and if anything are more of a supplement. I think it's extremely prevalent in our situation where Baylor is out but the team is doing well with the bats, I don't expect much to change when he gets back.......Pujols, Trout, or whoever is still going to swing at the same pitches they prefer.

 

Now the rebuttal I got many times was, "Well, why have position or bench coaches at all then?" There was an interview I came across about Joe Maddon and how he handles managing, duties, etc. and what I got out of it was that these people are in place simply for delegation.....scouting the opposing pitcher, game tape, helping build a plan against teams, etc.

 

It's more about guys like Butcher telling Skaggs he is dipping his shoulder while some here seem to believe that Butcher should be directly responsible for Skaggs being a sub 3 era.

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I wish I could read the entire article but it does start of with the one dimension view that a coach is supposed to bring improvements to a players game and across the board success. There is an intrinsic fail built into this as the baseline judgment of what coaching can provide.

Edited by Eric Notti
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Exactly Brandon. The article pretty much says that and so does the data.

The rest of you overreact and freak out. The data simply states that one guy over another isn't a big deal not that they should not exist. Some people on here don't seem to have common sense and don't read stuff. I posted the entire conclusion, a whole paragraph, and you can't be bothered to read and understand that. Seriously, do you just like to overreact?

The point is this: Butcher vs Duncan isn't that big of a difference, according to the numbers and in a general sense. If the players feel the coach is helping them then that is about all you can ask. The rest is a crap shoot and entirely dependent on the player not the coach. The differences between one major league hitting/pitching coach and another is basically preference not performance.

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That was about the time I actually started posting in the "Fire _____!!!!" threads when the upheval started because players either came here and sucked or left and were good to which it was the coaches fault, opposed to the players.

 

The only one that made sense was when Rodney left and did great and said his time here was poor because of mechanics instilled....then he went back to sucking and made the point invalid.

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Exactly Brandon. The article pretty much says that and so does the data.

The rest of you overreact and freak out. The data simply states that one guy over another isn't a big deal not that they should not exist. Some people on here don't seem to have common sense and don't read stuff. I posted the entire conclusion, a whole paragraph, and you can't be bothered to read and understand that. Seriously, do you just like to overreact?

The point is this: Butcher vs Duncan isn't that big of a difference, according to the numbers and in a general sense. If the players feel the coach is helping them then that is about all you can ask. The rest is a crap shoot and entirely dependent on the player not the coach. The differences between one major league hitting/pitching coach and another is basically preference not performance.

 

Unfortunately this is the case.

 

It's why solid articles or conversation points like the one you presented don't get as much attention, but as soon as Howie GIDP you're going to get more responses. Which is a bummer because there are a few here that contribute really good articles and ideas from you, Doc, IP, etc. but people would rather line up for when Trout K's with the bases loaded or even go as far as to blame the hitting coach for the K and spend their time harping the negatives or bashing than discussing solutions or metrics which to improve. Or just the overall premise of the game

 

But it's the nature of the beast with social media now. Back in the day this was actually the norm we would all discuss (in between Victor's mom and Mario Van Peebles academy awards), but the Twitter generation are live up to the minute knee jerks who are ready to pounce, but also wanting to move onto the next thing to bash quickly to be heard over the web with 40 characters or less.

 

But then again some people just like to be emo and a keyboard allows you to do so in a public setting now.

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I posted the entire conclusion, a whole paragraph, and you can't be bothered to read and understand that. Seriously, do you just like to overreact?

 

 

Greg that is a little presumptuous that the article that no one can read unless they have a subscription can agree with the results of how the author chose to use data. How can you presume understanding of something that no one has read, like the Affordable Care Act? We just pass it and say it is ok because we've read a paragraph conclusion written by the author?

 

I get you are geeked about stats and people using stats to understand the inner workings of the game but you come off dickish posting an article that is subscription based then ripping the responses because no one read it.

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The rest of you overreact and freak out. The data simply states that one guy over another isn't a big deal not that they should not exist. Some people on here don't seem to have common sense and don't read stuff. I posted the entire conclusion, a whole paragraph, and you can't be bothered to read and understand that. Seriously, do you just like to overreact?

 

Speaking of overreacting....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...did anyone see Pat Sajak's tweet the other day? That dude can overreact with the best of 'em.

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I realize you can't read the data behind the conclusions but you can read the conclusion. It does not say that coaches are unnecessary, as some here have suggested it means. That is what I'm responding to.

For example:

I don't care what stat or numbers say, but if anyone want to say coaches(hitting or pitching) don't make a difference on players........he must never play the game of baseball.

Nothing in the conclusion or what I said could possibly mean this. This type of knee jerk reaction to data is stupid. The article simply states that they don't make a big difference at this level. There are no real guru coaches worth much more than any other.

I know you can't see how he got to his final conclusion but you can at least respond to the ACTUAL conclusion and not something made up in your own mind. Intelligent conversation comes from at least listening/reading and comprehending first.

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