Monday, October 26, 2009

VSR: Mark McGwire - A Hitting Coach??? I Got A Better Idea

So Big Mac has come out of hiding since the Congressional steroid hearings the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting instructor. Now explain to me how this makes sense? As far as I could recall, McGwire was NEVER a great hitter - perhaps the most one-dimensional star of the 90's. In true Tim Russert fashion, let's go to the evidence courtesy of (i LOVE this site)

Only once did McGwire hit over .300 in one year (1996) and technically he hit .305 in 89 games in 2000. He hit .299 in that "magical" 1998 year. But take one look at his career batting average - a whopping .263. Does that scream hitting instructor? He's a great slugger (.588 slugging percentage is 9th best all time) but someone who can teach hitting?

Put it in perspective. Albert Pujols has a batting average nearly 70 points higher. What possibly could Big Mac teach him about hitting except to improve his power? And plate discipline? Dude averaged 130 strikeouts a season (over 100 times for 10 seasons). C'mon son.

I saw McGwire as a slugger when he played. A great power stroke but not exactly a great hitter. There's a difference between sending a ball to the bleachers and hitting a bunch of pop flies than knowing how to hit a ball and where to place it. Forget the steroid suspicion, the guy was one-dimensional before 1998 and even moreso afterwards. He got the job pure and simple because Tony La Russa is the manager and he's looking out for his former player.

Now if you want a guy who'd make a fine hitting instructor, I have a candidate. He batted over .300 11 times in his career with a .302 batting average during the 1990's (In all but one year, he batted better than .291). His career batting average is .298.

He also struck out fewer than 100 times every year in his career except his rookie year. All during his career, he was praised for his great batting eye. And now I present my best candidate to be a team hitting instructor.

Surprised? All of those numbers I mentioned belong to this guy. And for the ugly steroid argument, I threw in his 1990's totals when he along with Ken Griffey Jr. were the best players of the decade. Say what you want about him being a cheater, the guy could flat out hit and is better qualified to be a hitting instructor than McGwire.

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