Earlier this month the Colorado Rockies and hitting coach Dave Magadan made the mutual decision to part ways following a disastrous season. Now the Rockies are hunting for a new hitting coach—one who can repair an offense that was wildly ineffective in 2022. The Rockies offense was one of the worst in team history, hitting their fewest home runs since the 1993 and 1994 expansion years. They also had the highest ground ball percentage in the league, which was also the highest in Rockies franchise history.
The Rockies hired Dave Magadan after he and the Arizona Diamondbacks mutually parted ways themselves following the 2018 season. The Diamondbacks struggled immensely on offense, failing to live up to potential after a playoff berth the year before. Magadan replaced Duane Espy to become the Rockies’ fifth hitting coach in the last ten years. Now the team is looking for their sixth.
Last week, Joelle Milholm outlined how the Rockies need to find innovation in whomever their next hitting coach might be. However, knowing this organization anyone they hire will likely fall into one or more of the following categories:
- A former Rockies player.
- A promotion from within the very insular organization.
- A head-scratcher to the national baseball media.
Even with those categories in mind we can still explore some potential candidates—some of whom Joelle suggested—and see how they might fit as the Rockies’ next hitting coach.
Coaches who were dismissed in 2022
The Rockies hired Dave Magadan after his tenure with the Diamondbacks, and it stands to reason this is an avenue they could explore again. The Rockies were one of four teams to part ways with their hitting coach after the season: The Cincinnati Reds and Alan Zinter, the Detroit Tigers and Scott Coolbaugh, and Jeremy Reed and the Los Angeles Angels. The Kansas City Royals did fire hitting coach Terry Bradshaw (no not that one), but that was back in May.
Hitting Coaches Dismissed 2022
Though maligned Magadan’s offense might have been, each of these coaches represents a downgrade. While the Reds, Tigers, and Angels all had lower ground ball and double play rates, each offense was significantly worse than the Rockies overall. Only the Angels had a higher wRC+ and each team scored fewer runs per game. The Tigers were the worst of the bunch, barely hitting twice as many home runs as a team than Aaron Judge hit as an individual. They also had the fewest runs per game and lowest wRC+ of any major league team this season. Both the Angels and Reds hit more home runs than the Rockies, but were worse in most other categories. The Rockies would be foolish to pursue any of these former hitting coaches, though it would definitely meet criteria for confusing the national baseball media.
Jordan Pacheco, Hitting Coach for Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes
Jordan Pacheco theoretically has a lot to offer should the Rockies choose to promote him to their big league hitting coach. At 36 years old he’s still quite young and more connected to the modern game of baseball. The Isotopes had no issues lifting the ball in Pacheco’s first season as hitting coach. The Isotopes led the PCL in home runs with a franchise record 240 while also setting the minor league record for grand slams in a single season at 14. They grounded into fewer than 100 double plays, slashed .273/.353/.484 as a team, and drew a solid number of walks at 583 to 1345 team strikeouts. On the other hand, Pacheco just completed his first season as a professional coach in a very hitter friendly league. He’s also coaching in his home town with a young family.
Carlos González would bring his sweet, sweet swing and infectious positive energy into any clubhouse. CarGo still spends a lot of time in Colorado and around the Rockies organization. He’s an investor in the Future Legends Complex in Northern Colorado and was a guest instructor at spring training for the minor leaguers and prospects. The Little Pony is just 37 years old and not many years removed from his playing days. He’s connected with the modern iteration of the sport and is bilingual like Magadan. CarGo was also a beloved fixture of the clubhouse during his Rockies career. Even Nolan Arenado loved him to death
More importantly, González knows how to find success at the plate. In his 10 seasons with the Rockies he slashed .290/.349/.516 with 227 career home runs. His career ground ball rate sits at 45.5% and while he was his best self at Coors Field (.319 average and 143 home runs), he was solid on the road (.250 average and 91 home runs). Despite age catching up to his bat faster than expected, González has the knowledge to pass on to the current generation of Rockies hitters.
It’s going to be a long offseason as we wait and see what the Rockies do to make good on Dick Monfort’s promise of improvement. There are potentially many more candidates for hitting coach, some of which I will explore next week in part two of this piece. If you have suggestions or ideas on who you think the Rockies should bring in, say something in the comments and I might discuss your pick in the coming weeks!
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Jeff Mount over at Call to the Pen discusses power hitters like Julio Rodriguez, Mookie Betts, and Kyle Schwarber batting at the top of the order in the wake of the New York Yankees using Aaron Judge as their leadoff man in the playoffs.
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Arizona Fall League
Zac Veen and Warming Bernabel were the only Rockies organization hitters in the loss against the Desert Dogs. Veen continues to impress in Arizona. He went 2-for-5 and scored once. His batting average sits at .450 and his OPS is 1.140 so far this fall. Bernabel turned in another hitless ballgame. He is hitting just .091 in the AFL.
On the mound, three Rockies pitchers put in work. Stephen Jones worked a scoreless and hitless seventh inning. Blair Calvo gave up three earned runs on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts in his 2⁄3 inning outing in the eighth. Finn Del Bonta-Smith finished off the inning by getting the final out for the Rafters.
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