An unbiased look at Mickey Hatcher

Mickey HatcherLook, we all know this team is doing horrifically bad, in fact you could probably say historically bad. Coming into a season which held the highest expectations for the Angels did not go as well as anticipated. Let’s face it though, this is the kind of thing that happens to every team every year, it happens to the best of teams and it happens to the worst of teams. During this tough stretch there have been a lot of people calling out Mickey Hatcher and the organization for allowing this “hack” to still hold a job as a hitting coach even though he’s proven to be incredibly ineffective as a hitting coach. I should rephrase that, this is a call that has been coming from Angel fans for a long time.But why exactly?

People say, “Because he’s ruined our young prospects!” Or that, “He ruins our hitters’ swings!” And things like, “He’s so bad our hitters have to go to other hitting coaches to get help!”

Well some of these may or may not be true, but all I see are vague accusations. What exactly is it about him that is so detrimental to our hitters? 

Hitting the obvious nail on the head, he cannot instill patience into our hitters. Why is this? It is because he lacks strong grasp of how to be a patient hitter, all he can do is tow the company line of “well we need to be more patient. We need to stop swinging at pitches outside the zone and work at hitting pitches over the plate”.

Well that’s all fine and dandy, but how do you get your hitters to do that? By repeating those phrases at them until they end up working themselves out of a funk? Hatcher needs to teach these hitters how to properly control the strike zone, but he can’t because as a hitter himself he could never control the count. In Hatcher’s career as a ballplayer he only managed to work 164 walks, in 3607 plate apperances. Just to make sure your brain fully soaks up this information, he stepped up to the plate 3607 times in his career and only managed to walk 167 of those times, his season-high being 37 in 1984. Vladimir Guerrero, another player with notoriously bad control of the strike zone, had a career high of 84 walks, dipping lower than 37 only 4 times in his career. At this point it would look better to have Vladdy our hitting coach over Hatcher, huh?

If Hatcher wasn’t hitting the ball, he wasn’t getting on base, this is something that is made very clear by his .313 OBP. He didn’t rely on superior plate control to get him on base, only his bat. It isn’t hard to understand why the Angels would have continuous struggles with controlling the strike zone when you take a look at the kind of career Hatcher had as a player. This is magnified when you look at all the young hitters the Angels have developed and their plate control that ranges from terrible to mediocre. Howie Kendrick? Erick Aybar? Jeff Mathis? Peter Bourjos? Mark Trumbo? It’s really no coincidence that the hitters developed by this organization come up to the big leagues and struggle with strike zone control and plate discipline.

What the Angels really need is a guy who doesn’t just tell the hitters what to do, he teaches them. Mickey Hatcher has never really been a remarkable hitter, at best he was just pretty decent. Nothing about Mickey Hatcher stood out, not his contact abilities (career .280 BA) and definitely not his power (career .690 OPS), so what was the quality that made the Angels say “we need to have this man as our hitting coach”. The only thing that Hatcher can pass on to his hitters is a mediocre understanding of hitting in general, the Angels need a guy that can really teach these players what they’re supposed to be doing at the plate. They need a guy who has superior understanding of hitting, and not just putting the bat on the ball, everything that comes with stepping into the batters box. 

If I had a choice as to who would be the teams hitting coach I would pick Tim Salmon in a heartbeat. Not only does he have that superior understanding needed, he can teach and spread knowledge through this entire team.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just some fan who poked holes all over Mickey Hatcher.