seitzer-alomar

According to the internet– or, if you prefer to be more specific, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star– um… what the headline says, i.e. this:

Cue morons rushing en masse to look up how bad the Royals were at hitting under his tutelage in order to dumbly shit all over the move as though that would actually tell us anything.

Or… well… it’s practically impossible to separate a hitting coach’s influence from the actual talent on his roster, and I’d say that we should maybe not indulge in such pointlessness too much, but it’s probably unavoidable.

To start: Seitzer, who was an impressive hitter in his own right, posting a .295/.375/.404 line over his 12-year career, was the Royals’ hitting coach from 2009 through 2012. His name has been strongly linked to the Jays job right from the get-go, as I noted (via Shi Davidi) in a Daily Duce post back on Thursday, because of his relationship with John Gibbons, who was the Royals’ bench coach from 2008 until the end of 2011.

He also, then, was around when Melky Cabrera had his major breakout season, for whatever that’s worth.

Matt Klaassen wrote about his tenure with the Royals at FanGraphs last October, after the axe had fallen, and noted– for those of you who really do want to make an issue of it (which he very explicitly doesn’t)– that “the Royals offense improved every year Seitzer was on the job prior to 2012.”

Then again, in his final year in Kansas City, the promising Eric Hosmer was a disaster, and Klaassen suggested that “if his problems with BABIP this season are caused by problem with his mechanics (as Keith Law recently suggested), that is a clear (if not necessarily decisive) strike against Seitzer.”

On the other hand, he wrote at the time that he figured “Alex Gordon’s last two seasons probably make the best individual case for Seitzer’s value as a hitting coach, although apparently there are some who feel that Gordon’s drop-off in home run power this year should count against Seitzer.”

Indeed, as he explained, “from an outside perspective, it is tough to know how to weigh these things against each other. It is a sabermetric cliche at this point to say that coaching has value, but is difficult to measure, but it is true.”

That doesn’t mean that it’s a waste of time to consider what a coach brings, though. For example, Klaassen tells us that “Seitzer’s approach generally emphasizes hitters trying to go up the middle.” That would seem to jibe with the assertion of Alex Anthopoulos, in his first public comments after Chad Mottola’s firing, that he thinks his club could use the whole field a bit more– which he, thankfully, qualified by noting that “you do have to be careful, because one of our strengths is to hit the ball out of the ballpark, and if you overweigh using the whole field, things like that, it certainly can take away from some of your strengths.”

Though, Seitzer himself would suggest that’s too glib a reading of what he’s trying to do. Klaassen’s assertion likely came by way of comments from Ned Yost at the time when the move was made. In February, several months after the post was written, Seitzer countered, elaborating on his philosophy to Fox Sports Kansas City:

“I thought I left on very good terms with Ned,” Seitzer told FOXSportsKansasCity.com. “ But I will disagree with something he said when it was announced I would be let go. He said my philosophy was a middle-of-the-field philosophy — trying to get guys to just hit it up the middle and to the opposite field.

“That’s just not true. We went with the oppo-approach when we were down in the count, which is what all good hitters do. The key to being a good hitter is putting the ball in play — you increase your odds dramatically by keeping the ball in play. And we did that. I saw a lot of these young guys really start to figure things out as the year went on. “

And if you want to feel even better about the possibility of his hiring, there’s this, from a rumination on what was wrong with the Royals’ offence this season (you may recall that around the end of May, Seitzer’s replacement, Jack Maloof, was demoted, and George Brett installed as a temporary hitting coach) from Rany On The Royals:

Back in May, Russell Carleton published a study at Baseball Prospectus that evaluated hitting coaches based on whether the hitters under their tutelage improved or declined. By his methodology – and it’s only one way of looking at things – Kevin Seitzer was worth about 58 runs over an average hitting coach over the course of a season. Among every hitting coach of the last 20 years who had held the job for more than two seasons, the only hitting coach worth more was Clint Hurdle – who coached for the Rockies from 1997 to 2001, before the humidor, when Coors Field was maybe the best hitters’ park in world history. Carleton admits that the extreme conditions may have affected the numbers in a way he could not control for, and made Hurdle look better than he was.

So basically, Carleton came to the conclusion that Seitzer was, if not the best hitting coach of the last 20 years, certainly close. And that was before this season, when practically every hitter he coached last season has declined to varying degrees. I imagine the same study performed today would rank Seitzer even higher.

You want to know what’s wrong with the offense? The answer is astoundingly simple: Kevin Seitzer isn’t here anymore.

So… um… Chad who?

 

Crotch grab in the direction of those in the comments on the last post for the last two links.

Comments (72)

  1. Dave Cameron in his chat today said the study about how many runs a hitting coach produces is rubbish.

    • Which obviously means it’s likely very accurate and statistically relevant.

    • In Dave Cameron’s world, though, the only four things of resonance are things he himself has said, things Tom Tango has said, and each of Jeff Sullivan’s testicles.

    • Or, you know, it’s entirely possible that it is.

    • To be fair, I have not actually read the study, but right off the bat, it does seem as if it could be flawed. Isn’t he assuming that a hitting coach is the only factor that affects a hitter improving or declining? It still doesn’t take into account the talent at hand to begin with among other factors, but I’m just speculating here.

  2. The study’s good enough for me. Not that I really care who the hitting coach is.

  3. Seitzer??!?!?! Sweet!!!! I loved the Stray Cats.

    • That was my first reaction when I saw the headline. I was like, this is a new and exciting Rockabilly direction for the club!

  4. Cant wait for JPA to tell Seitzer that he cant hit the other way, or up the middle because he’s a run producer.

    • Like Arencibia’s going to be on the team.

      • Nobody is going to make JPA their starting catcher next year until we can demonstrate that he is capable of handling the job, so, hypothetically speaking, if the Jays’ starting catcher next year can handle the knuckleball, isn’t there a possibility greater than zero that JPA will be the backup next year?

      • “Like Arencibia’s going to be on the team.”

        Every catcher kinda sucks, right?

      • Oh dear God, I hope this prognostication is correct.

    • Part of me has a morbid sense of curiosity to see if Seitzer can fix JPA; I almost want to see JPA stay another season just to see what would happen.

      Almost.

  5. If it’s good enough for Doctor Rany though, it’s certainly good enough for me.

    Rany is much more respected in sabermetric circles than Cameron in my opinion.

    • rany is great and i suspect that seitzer is a very good hitting coach… but 58 runs is an astronomical number. I don’t have a subscription to BP anymore but colour me skeptical.

      • Yeah, it’s kind of like when the initial studies on catcher framing came out and concluded that Jose Molina saved his teams oodles of runs because of his framing prowess. Everybody got hysterical about how valuable he actually was but then other SABR guys came out and said to hold up so other studies and some peer review could take place.

        This hitting coach study is similar. It’s possible that a hitting coach can be that valuable but it’s difficult to calculate. Cameron said it’s rubbish but he’s quite opinionated and not always right. Further study is probably required.

  6. Any player featured in RBI Baseball for the NES is okay in my books.

    If memory serves, he was a bench bat on the AL all-stars.

  7. “Like Arencibia’s going to be on the team.”

    All catchers kinda suck, right!

  8. Bit of a conundrum,isn’t it.
    I remember the same hype with Mottola.He worked wonders in AAA. All the players in AAA seemed to respond to his advice. JPA won a batting title under his tutiledge,yet JPA had his worst year in the Show with Mottola.
    At the same time, if the hitting coach doesn’t matter, who instructed Lawrie to remain calmer at the plate,told Rasmus to stand more upright and of course Bautista claims it was Cito who suggested the adjustments that took him from a bench player to a superstar.
    There is a postion of hitting coach on the team,might as well be Seitzer.
    A fresh set of eyes can’t hurt,can it?

    • Uhm, no he didn’t win a batting title under Mottola. Arencibia’s .301 average in 2010 was 55th in the PCL. Heck, even Kila Ka’aihue had a better BA with .319 that season.

      Even so, I say bring on Seitzer! One thing that I felt the Jays were sorely lacking was situational hitting, and Seitzer could help on that front.

    • I think Jose credited Vernon Wells also (of all people).

      • Bautista said that V-Dub taught him how to watch (a.k.a. study) video productively.

        • Bautista’s Vernon Wells story was that they were sitting in the dug-out during a game and Jose told Wells he had been told to start his swing faster and he had, but it had made no difference. Wells suggested that he start his swing ‘crazy early’ the next time. Start it almost before the pitcher had thrown the ball. He said people may laugh but who gives a shit. Jose did exactly that and hit a hard double up against the outfield wall. After that it’s history…

          • That was the story I heard, also Cito had sited before that day that Vernon told him to swing crazy early, that Jose had great bat speed, but started his swing so late that he couldn’t get around fast enough to drive the ball on a consistent basis. Cue 54 home run season. I’m all for a hitting coach that preaches a two strike philosophy, and really hope that this becomes official soon.

  9. Well jpa has to fo

  10. Rany is smarter about baseball than I am. As well as a tremendous twitter follow. So I’ll just go ahead and trust him.

  11. Seitzer had a .375 OBP as a player? I’m sold.

  12. There were many times when I thought to myself this season: “why aren’t Jose Bautista/JPA/Brett Lawrie/Colby Rasmus/etc hitting the other way? They’d all be hitting .300 if they hit the other way a little more”.

    Hopefully they pull this off. Pun!

  13. OK, so we fire a guy that favoured pulling the ball and now we bring in the opposite. Cant we have a “hybrid” hitting coach that is ok with pulling the ball in certain situattions by certain players? But also understands certain players need to hit the ball up the middle or the other way to be successful? Why does it have to be one or the other? Also, the fact that the royals underperformed under him is not encouraging. Whether its his fault or how much influence he has is under debate but the results werent good and thats all their is to measure him. I think they shouldve thrown a truck load of money at the yankee or red sox hitting coaches. Those guys know how to have good ABs.

    • Dude, what he asks of his players is to take a better 2 strike philosophy, and increase your chances of getting on base by making contact, and quite possibly, at the same time……. wait for it…… cut down on strike outs. Are you always so negative??? As for the Yankees and Red Sox coaches, as Howie Long may be a good coach, they still throw hundreds of millions of dollars at guys that where developed by other teams. Did Vernon Wells all of a sudden regain his hitting ways of when he was a youthful kid hitting in front of Delgado. That statement makes little to no since. Not to mention Howie Long isn’t going anywhere right now!!!

      • @ digital. Im not being negative. Just would have been more confident if they brought in someone with proven results. Also, I agree certain players are just awful (jpa) and are hopeless hitting coach or otherwise. But lets use lawrie as an example. Hes still young and he can change his approach. Wouldnt you want a hitting coach telling him to take more pitches, be selective etc every fucking day? Becuase what I saw was was a guy being way too aggressive most of the time. Hope this Seitzer guy works out.

      • Agreed. Pulling means committing early, and a two-strike pitch (likely to be a breaking ball) this is disastrous. Waiting on it an extra little bit means a better chance of putting the ball in play – and, when you have power hitters like the Jays do, this might mean a single or a double the other way rather than a strikeout or pop-out. I don’t think it’ll necessarily mean less home-runs actually. Excited to see how it works out.

    • Where are you dreaming up this bullshit about Seitzer forcing hitters to only ever use the middle?

      • The 51-year-old has spoken about the value of hitting the ball up the middle and to the opposite field, especially when down in the count. Last winter he told FOX Sports Kansas City that he doesn’t favour pull-happy approaches.

        “Personally, I think it’s a recipe for disaster,” Seitzer said. “And there aren’t too many hitting coaches who wouldn’t agree. You start committing yourself too early on pitches and a lot of bad things can happen. You’ve got less time to react and you’re going to see a lot of foul balls or weak ground balls.”

        http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/report-seitzer-close-to-joining-blue-jays/

        • Not that he *forces* players to hit up the middle. But he would *prefer* up the middle. Still think players like EE and Jbats will be given free reign to do whatever the fuck they want to do.

        • Nothing you are worried about is founded in anything he says here.

  14. I couldn’t be happier about this hiring. I like Seitzer when I was growing up, because I was a similar hitter in little league. Not much pop, made lots of contact, didn’t strike out much and could draw walks. He was a very disciplined hitter, and if he can pass on some of his knowledge to this lineup, I can only think that it should have positive returns. Plus, it’s a bonus that he has a few years experience in this role at the major league level and has proven that he can help older and younger players. Who wants to bet that a healthy Melky has a huge year. Super stoked!

  15. Definitely like this if it comes to fruition. As you wrote, Rany was very high on Seitzer, and that’s a good endorsement.

  16. That picture of Alomar in flight is killer.

  17. The miracle Sietzer achieved with Gordon, and the fact that he was responsible for Hosmer sucking, and the fact that probably every hitting coach has hitters similarly on opposite ends of projection and expectation, has convinced me batting coaches make a difference and don’t make any difference at all.

  18. Propsed new Palm Beach Gardens facility

    http://twitpic.com/dhmnm4

  19. Seitzer was great in RBI baseball.

  20. Anyone watching the game? Peavy just walked the bases full and then walked in a run…

  21. I think Seitzer would be a good addition for a number of reasons. I’m simply waiting to hear the announcement of JPA getting the boot. Maybe we’ll all get lucky once Gibby is done firing most of his coaching staff, AA can focus on the players like Romero (who got paid 8.5 mil to pitch a 5.63ERA in AAA), JPA and others who consistently shat the bed all year.

  22. Fister!? I hardly know her!…..

    Sorry.

  23. It is not good enough for the Tigers to win. They must also shave Napoli’s fucking beard off and eviscerate Pedroia followed by Cabrera feasting on his entrails.

  24. SOLD!

  25. I reserve judgement on this decision until I find out what Tony Rasmus thnks about it.

  26. Whatever Tony Rasmus thinks, Colby has improved enormously but still swings too freely on occasion and gets himself out. So some improvement there would be nice also.

  27. So what did Seitzer do this year?

  28. [...] is the impending signing of Kevin Seitzer as the team’s new hitting coach. As outlined by Andrew Stoeten at DJF Seitzer has not only seemingly been one of the more effective hitting coaches in the league, but [...]

  29. Seltzer said the up the middle approach was due to the size of Kansas home field. it’s harder to hit HR therefore better to go for the double. But uf they played in a different park it might be a different approach.

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