We need to talk about Detroit Tigers’ hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh

Detroit Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh watches practice Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.Spring Training
Detroit Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh watches practice Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.Spring Training /

In part 1 of this miniseries where we discuss who’s to blame for the Detroit Tigers’ disastrous start, we dive into the role that Scott Coolbaugh has played in all of this.

In each of the first two years of Scott Coolbaugh’s tenure as Detroit Tigers’ hitting coach, the offense has gotten off to a lethargic start. During the month of April in 2021, the Tigers hit .199 as a team with a .602 OPS.

Now we are about a month into the 2022 season, and things have not been much better. So far this season, the Tigers are hitting .220 as a team with a .596 OPS and just 11 home runs, by far the fewest in baseball.

Last season you could argue that Coolbaugh didn’t have much to work with as far as talent. But after the Tigers added Javier Baez, Austin Meadows, and top prospect Spencer Torkelson in the offseason, what’s the excuse this time around?

The first potential excuse is regression from guys like Akil Baddoo, Jonathan Schoop, Eric Haase, and Jeimer Candelario, although he appears to finally be turning things around. Schoop just looks lost right now. He’s been swinging early on offspeed pitches and swinging way behind fastballs. I’m not sure how long you can keep a guy with a .372 OPS in the lineup.

Baddoo could very well benefit from a trip to Toledo. He may be the odd man out when Victor Reyes comes off the IL. It’s easy to forget that he skipped both Double-A and Triple-A.

Haase just needs more consistent at-bats. I personally wasn’t sure why he wasn’t in the lineup against the Astros on Saturday with lefty Framber Valdez on the hill. I know he’s been struggling defensively behind the plate, but it’s not like Tucker Barnhart has been lighting it up or anything.

The other excuse is MLB messing around with the baseballs. But of course, that’s affected every other team in the league, and with the exception of the Cincinnati Reds, nobody is struggling at the plate quite like the Tigers.

Under Coolbaugh’s tutelage, there’s no doubt the Tigers have adopted a more disciplined approach at the plate, walking at a rate of 8.1% last season, which beats their 2020 walk rate by a full percentage point. This year they have an 8.4% walk rate so far, but they look a little too disciplined.

Too many times have they either watched pitches float down the middle or have swung late on them because they weren’t expecting it. Good big league hitters pounce on mistake pitches, and Tigers’ hitters simply haven’t done that this season.

On top of that, they just aren’t hitting the ball hard in general. The league is hitting the ball hard at a 29.6% clip this season, while the Tigers are sitting at 26.8%, almost 3% lower. Robbie Grossman has been one of the team’s better hitters so far, but even he has an average exit velocity of 84.7 mph, according to The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen.

That of course, has played a large part in the lack of power. Torkelson leads the team with three home runs this season, but hasn’t hit one since April 23. Despite the horrible start last year, the team was still hitting for some power, with 28 bombs at this point last season.

So how does this all lead back to Coolbaugh? Well it’s quite simple. He’s the hitting coach, therefore he is in charge of the offense. They have massively underperformed so far, and it’s arguably the biggest reason why the team currently sits at 8-19.

Coolbaugh definitely deserves some heat, especially considering this has happened two years in a row. I really don’t see the Tigers making any changes to their coaching staff this early into the season, but if they do, I imagine he’d be the first to go.

dark. Next. The Willi Castro in left field experiment needs to end