The Washington Nationals added Jacque Jones to the mix of batting coaches as an assistant to Rick Schu, and the team has Dusty Baker who is also very involved with the batters. That was evident in spring training.
How do you assess a batting coach fairly when you have a few batters hitting great and several batters near career lows?
There was the #FireEckstein crowd years ago and now you can find the #FireSchu crowd as some are getting their pitchforks and torches at the ready, and some fans are just wondering if it really is the batting coaches fault for some of the struggling Nats players on offense.
Sometimes you have to consider the students. You must look at players who just are not going to improve no matter if Charlie Lau was their hitting coach or Ted Williams.
Emotions blow with the wind and today Jayson Werth is somehow better than he was yesterday, and statistically that is true however what changes and is all offensive woes to be blamed on the batting coaches?
The answer is of course “no” but often times a coach will be fired as someone has to be blamed. Why is Ryan Zimmerman batting .239 and who is to blame for that? Why is he batting .171 with RISP and a much better .282 when bases are empty? Last year Zimmerman was a .249 hitter overall. This is the most curious case the Nats have of all the hitters on the team. There is no straight answer.
The same goes for Anthony Rendon who has a .237 batting average, but a respectable .328 OBP. Two years ago Rendon was 50 points higher on his batting average. Why the regression? Rendon has a .280 BABIP and was at .321 last year and you would expect he would progress to the mean. His line-drive rate is only off 2% but his power is alarmingly off as is current slugging % is .321 versus a career average of .414. Theories are that he is not driving through the ball and that seems obvious, but why?
When you get into the questions on Ben Revere you are talking about sample sizes too small to assess and you have to move on.
With Espinosa and Taylor, this is where you have to think it is the student and not the teacher. We learned in an interview in Spring Training with Jason Martinson how he was prepared by Rick Schu to look for the 2-seamer and he helped him with approach. We know it exists, and last night Espinosa in a key 7th inning at-bat swung took pitch #1 and got a break as it should have been strike 1, then swung at pitch out of the zone to make the count 1-1. In a pivotal moment in that at-bat and in the game, Espinosa did not chase his kryptonite pitch which was the high fastball out of the zone and in fact worked a walk with the bases loaded. We saw that Danny has the ability when he focuses to not fall prey to a poor approach.