My official view of hitting coaches is that they really don’t make a hell of a lot of difference. Maybe they help a guy here or there, maybe they don’t, but I bet that if we studied the matter closely, we’d find a pretty strong correlation between successful hitting coaches and hitting coaches who happened to have good hitters under their instruction.
That said, hitting coaches are often lightning rods for criticism. Larry Parrish of the Braves has certainly been that. For one thing, he replaced Terry Pendelton, who in addition to being popular, happened to preside over a Braves lineup that had the best OBP in the league last year. Why was he replaced? Because someone felt that new manager Fredi Gonzalez should be able to shape his staff his own way. Clearly no one had heard of the “if it ain’t broke” rule.
This year the Braves were 5th worst in OBP in all of baseball. A lot of that could be the talent level, as I noted above. Or it could be that Parrish’s approach — he preached aggressiveness at the plate — has made a mess of Braves hitters. The upshot: Parrish’s impact is hard to quantify, but he certainly suggested stuff that — if it sunk in — was likely to have a bad effect. And the Braves’ hitting was, in fact, bad in 2011.
But maybe we should take something larger from all of this. If Parrish was hired as a means of letting Fredi Gonzalez shape his staff, perhaps Gonzalez should feel insulted that his own man has been let go. Perhaps he should be exceedingly indignant at being undermined in such a blatant and public fashion!
That cuts it. I see no other choice but for Fredi Gonzalez to resign in protest. Protect your dignity, Fredi! It is the most important thing!