It's widely known that no one player can make a baseball team, especially with a season as long as MLB's. This year, the Detroit Tigers' second place division finish was the accomplishment of a collective effort, but some individual standouts also have to be credited with leading the team to its best finish since 2016.
Ninth round Tigers draft pick Kerry Carpenter, who became an everyday fixture in 2023 after only 31 games in 2022, is one of those standouts. He hit .278/.340/.471 with a .811 OPS this year and is expected to perform as the team's most frequent, if not everyday DH next season. His rapid improvement beginning in early 2022 could be thanks, in part, to independent hitting coach Richard Schenck (known as "Teacherman" online), who has also worked with Aaron Judge.
Schenck recently appeared on Bronx Pinstripes, a Yankees podcast, to talk about his experiences coaching major leaguers and shading both the Yankees and Tigers' hitting staffs on the way.
Independent hitting coach puts Tigers hitting staff on blast after working with Kerry Carpenter
Schenck told host Andrew Rotondi, who asked if Schenck had any communication with Yankees staff, that he had no contact with members of the Yankees' or Tigers' hitting staffs and, despite not wanting a job with a major league team, he was surprised that no one had reached out to inquire about the success he'd had with their players.
Carpenter was introduced to Schenck by former Tigers prospect Jacob Robson in 2021, when Carpenter was promoted to Double-A, and he saw a marked improvement after he started working with Schenck in February 2022. He hit .304/.359/.646 with a 1.005 OPS in Double-A over 63 games and was promptly promoted to Triple-A, where he hit even better over 35 games, with a line of .331/.420/.644 with a 1.064 OPS.
During the 2023 season, Carpenter had the best batting average and OBP of all Tigers hitters who played in over 100 games, and the best slugging and OPS of Tigers hitters across the board. As a team, the Tigers were ranked in the bottom five of all four categories, and the Yankees didn't fare much better, even placing second to last in batting average.
So maybe Schenck has a point. Despite receiving a good deal of criticism from other baseball teachers and creators online, both Judge and Carpenter outperform their teams by miles. It could be innate talent, but there also could be something in Schenck's perhaps unorthodox methods that major league teams could learn a thing or two from.