Exactly what does a hitting coach get judged by? How do you measure whether or not he’s doing an effective job? I would think it’s things like improving the team’s overall batting average and reducing strikeouts, so why is Dave Hudgens coming back? There’s a better case to be made for firing Hudgens than there ever was for firing Howard Johnson. I just don’t understand the front office’s fixation and obsession with this guy and there seems to be an apparent lack of accountability.
Joe D. replies…
I took a quick look at how the Mets performed under Dave Hudgens in various offensive categories:
2011 – .264 (Ranked 2nd)
2012 – .249 (Ranked 10th)
2013 – .237 (Ranked 14th)
2011 – .335 (Ranked 2nd)
2012 – .316 (Ranked 11th)
2013 – .306 (Ranked 14th)
2011 – 1,085 (Ranked 13th)
2012 – 1,250 (Ranked 7th)
2013 – 1,384 (Ranked 1st)
Based on those team averages and rankings, it’s true that the team has regressed under the approach being incorporated by Dave Hudgens. It’s not exactly something that can be fixed by having the team spending extra time in the batting cages either. Especially if they have bad habits or a bad approach to begin with.
I know that there’s a good portion of fans that believe hitting coaches and pitching coaches make no impact on a team either way. However, I find that to be a simplistic view that’s not really based on the reality of why teams have specific coaches with defined roles in the first place.
Many coaches go into a given season with 2-3 pet projects. That is working with players that they’d like to see an improved performance from.
We’ve heard before that Ike Davis, for example, was not very coachable and that Ruben Tejada was another player I’ve heard that about. So it would seem that Hudgens has been working personally with these two players in an effort to impact their games positively. Of course it never happened for either of them, so obviously Hudgens wasn’t really connecting with them or vice-versa.
When Marlon Byrd was asked this summer to give a reason for his remarkable comeback this season, he credited hard work and hitting coach Dave Hudgens.
So I’m gonna roll with the assumption that Hudgens is a lot more than a flesh and blood paperweight with a nice title.
With that out of the way and given the teams backsliding couple with regressions from 4-5 key components of the Mets lineup, Hudgens isn’t living up to his end of the bargain.
Does he deserve to be fired? That’s not for me to say, but he doesn’t have many success stories he can point to. I often wonder why Mets hitters don’t do things I see hitters on the Yankees, Braves and Phillies do like shorten up their swings with two strikes on them or just being better situational hitters in general. The Mets are one of the worst team in the majors when batting with runners in scoring position.
How much of that is Sandy Alderson’s fault and how much of the blame goes to Hudgens?
It’s very likely that both share some of the blame.
If I had to grade Hudgens’ based on his three years with the Mets, I’d give probably him a C-. But if I were to grade him solely on the 2013 season, he’s earned a solid D and maybe an F.