KANSAS CITY — After a month of offensive underperformance, the Royals announced a major change to their coaching staff on Monday with the firing of hitting coach Terry Bradshaw, effective immediately.
“It reflects how we evaluate and how we do things overall,” said general manager JJ Picollo. “…It started 10-12 days ago. Discussions of where we are as an organization, where we want to be, where do we expect our hitters to be.
Assistant hitting coach Keoni DeRenne, whom the Royals promoted to the big league staff this offseason, remains in his role, and special assignment hitting coach Mike Tosar will be in uniform with the team from the Major League for “about a month or so”. Picollo said, before the club reassessed the need for him with Kansas City or elsewhere in the organization.
Major League coach John Mabry, who works closely with the hitters, also remains with the club.
After Monday’s overtime loss, when Luis Robert pulled the Royals closer to Scott Barlow from deep for a two-run homer in the 10th, the Royals stood 12-21 and 7 1/2 games shy of first place in the league. Central American League.
The organization thought 2022 could be the start of a contention window over the next few years, and it wasn’t the start they were looking for, especially offensively.
In 33 games, the Royals ranked 27th in the Majors in runs scored (121) and 28th in OPS (.619). They hit the second fewest home runs (21) in the Majors and ranked in the bottom third in baseball in hitting percentage at 37.6%.
The most telling stat, which Picollo said was a major influence in the decision, was their average with runners in scoring position – .221, which ranks 25th in the Majors and saw a slight increase on Monday night , when Whit Merrifield scored a two-run double in the eighth and Andrew Benintendi came on with a single equaliser. It was the biggest offense the Royals had seen all night after Johnny Cueto struck out seven on six two-hit innings.
“There are a couple of really big things that we need to see,” President of Baseball Operations Dayton Moore said. “We need to see nine players in our lineup who are committed to getting on base in every way possible. That means we can’t chase pitches out of the strike zone. When you have pitches to hit in the strike zone, we can’t miss them. We have to square them. We have to drive the balls to where they are thrown.
The Royals were confident of the combination of Bradshaw, DeRenne and Mabry to lead the batters this offseason. But when Picollo and the team started seeing the batsmen early in the season, that thinking changed.
“I say it with respect, it’s the players who play the game,” Picollo said. “So whether it’s the message or the understanding of the message, who knows, but we thought Terry was the right person to approach this year. And then the way it went, we started thinking more to find out if we were to make a change at that time.
“We take a lot of it – all the blame,” added second baseman Whit Merrifield. “It cost a good man his job because we’re not playing like we should be playing. Everything depends on us.
The coaching change signals a shift in offensive philosophy that has been anticipated both inside and outside the organization. Zumwalt has been a key part of the Royals’ overhaul of their Minor League hitting department over the past two years, seeing significant improvement with hitters across the board in their offensive approach and production.
The Royals hope the change can bring continuity between Minor League and Major League sides in game planning and attacking approach as the club continue to move their young prospects to the Majors.
“We’re always talking about process, but also what the game plan is, taking data,” manager Mike Matheny said. “And I believe we were making some of that progress in the right direction, but we know we need to improve on some things. When all of that is put together, it creates an opportunity for different ideas, and that’s what we’re counting on with this new band. Come with this positive energy to allow us to use the things they have had success with.
“Hopefully that translates here.”
Bradshaw had been the hitting coach since 2018 and he’s been with the organization since 2000. Based on that story, Moore indicated that Bradshaw could still play a role in the organization.
“We felt like we needed more urgency and more of a focus on a few of the main things that we think prepare hitters on a daily basis,” Moore said. “…It’s not one person’s fault. But there are certain absolutes that we have put in place with our typing development that we felt needed to step up.
“Do I think we were working on it and getting there? I do it. But in the end, not fast enough.
The Royals have remained adamant that while their pitcher also ranks near the bottom of the AL, there have been no discussions about making a switch with pitching coach Cal Eldred and bullpen coach Larry Carter.
“It wasn’t discussed at all,” Picollo said. “We knew the young starting pitcher would go through ups and downs. You want them to make progress. … It’s about doing it consistently. It’s not like guys come here and show no major league pitching ability. They showed some ability, and now it’s our job to get it out of them on a more consistent basis. It will come with time. »