The Royals announced a handful of changes to the coaching staff on Monday, including the firing of hitting coach Terry Bradshaw. Senior Director of Player Development and Batting Performance Alec Zumwalt will now oversee the team’s batting and serve as a uniformed member of the team’s big league coaching staff. Special assignment batting coach Mike Tosar also joins the major league coaching staff. Assistant batting coach Keoni DeRenne will remain with the team and retain the same title.
It was a brutal season for the Kansas City roster as a whole. Hitting just .224/.289/.336 as a collective unit, Royals hitters rank in the bottom five teams in the game in runs scored, home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, of slugging and the wRC+. Kansas City batters have the lowest strikeout rate in the game (19.2%), but that hasn’t translated into offensive production and the club’s 7.8% walk rate is the fourth-lowest rating in Major League Baseball.
“Baseball is constantly evolving and we must continue to self-evaluate to ensure we give our players everything they need to succeed at the highest level of baseball,” Royals general manager JJ Picollo said. in a statement announcing the move. “Our results so far have not matched what we are capable of, and we all share responsibility for that. We look forward to Alec, Keoni and Mike helping us provide the best possible processes for our players.
Certainly, as Picollo alluded to, the blame for the team’s offensive struggles isn’t solely on Bradshaw. The Royals ranked 24th in Majors in points scored last year and 25th in wRC+, but the team did nothing to deal with the roster over the winter. On the contrary, the hope was that the best prospect Bobby Witt Jr. – and, ultimately, Nick Prato and MJ Melendez – would breathe some life into what had been a fairly lackluster lineup. Kansas City was also hoping to get Adalberto Mondesi healthy and get rebound efforts from Hunter Dozier and carlos santana.
Witt’s bat has started to come alive after a slow start, and Dozier is indeed in the middle of what looks like a hard bounce at home plate. Mondesi, however, is out for the year with a torn ACL. Santana has been even less productive in 2022 than he was in 2021. Pratto and Melendez, meanwhile, were sent to Triple-A to start the season. Melendez has since made his MLB debut, but has faced 27 plate appearances. Pratto was hitting .253/.320/.483 in Triple-A before falling in his current streak of 20 no-hitter appearances.
Zumwalt, despite his job in the organization’s minor league system, already has strong relationships with many of the Royals’ up-and-coming hitters. He has been with the Royals for nine seasons, originally as a scout before moving into an advanced scouting role for five years. Zumwalt was the team’s director of baseball operations and player development from 2018 to 2019. He had been in the first season of his current role, which will now change again. It marks the continued overhaul of a hitting infrastructure that has had Zumwalt as a key figure, as The Athletic’s Alec Lewis chronicled last summer.