<
>

Rangers lose longtime hitting coach

After 15 seasons, Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is moving on. Evan Grant:

    Dallas-raised Rudy Jaramillo, the Rangers hitting instructor for the last 15 seasons, has turned down the club's one-year contract offer and is preparing to explore the free agent market after his contract expires October 31.
    --snip--

    Rangers officials met with Jaramillo shortly after the season to extend the one-year offer but to also stipulate that the offense needed to improve. The Rangers ranked seventh in runs scored in the AL in 2009, but ranked 11th of 14 teams in batting average (.260) and 12th in on-base percentage (.320).

    --snip--

    As mentioned earlier, the Cubs have no hitting instructor and Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rogers has suggested the Cubs make a strong play for Jaramillo.

Hitting coaches are useless.
No, they're not.

Well, probably not. Actually, I'm not sure, but I think they probably are useful in some limited way. Here's a thought experiment, though: If half the teams in 2010 don't employ hitting instructors, at the end of the season would you be able to figure out which teams had hitting instructors and which ones didn't? I suspect you would have a lot of trouble.

Jaramillo has been drawing raves for quite some time, and it's true that the Rangers have generally scored a fair number of runs, and that players like Juan Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez thrived under his tutelage. It's also true that the Rangers play in a hitter-friendly ballpark, and that Gonzalez and Rodriguez thrived under the tutelage of other batting coaches before meeting Jaramillo.

My gut feeling is that in a typical season, a truly skilled batting instructor might have a measurable impact on one or two hitters. He might serve as a non-measurable-but-somehow-valuable counselor for another one or two. But I remember when Jeff Pentland supposedly turned Sammy Sosa into a great hitter. But later, it turned out that: 1) Sosa probably had some other help; and 2) Pentland's magic didn't seem to work so well with the Royals or the Mariners.

Jaramillo might be perfect for the Cubs, and he might work wonders for Alfonso Soriano. Or he might not. You probably do need a hitting instructor. But if you think he's a panacea, you're probably going to be terribly disappointed.