Seth Smith (12) leads the hapless Padres offense in batting average at .294. Not a single Padre with at least 20 at bats is hitting over .300. Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Different day, same story. Okay, maybe its not a no-hitter every single day, but the San Diego Padres sure seem to give plenty of pitchers a run at a no-no day in and day out.
One of the all-time great Padres’ pitchers said it best on the post-game show Tuesday when he said, “It seems like a lot of times I look up in the sixth inning and we are still looking for a base hit.” Hyperbole or not, that feeling resonates with many fans, who are watching this year’s most hapless line up, and one of the epically worst in baseball history.
So the question now comes, who takes the blame for this?
Well, when your team isn’t hitting, the first place to look may be the man who has hitting in his job title, hitting coach Phil Plantier.
This is the third regular season with Plantier at the helm of the bats. In that time, he has seen the team put up season slash lines of .255/.329/.393 in 2012, .250/.315/.388 in 2013 and a partial season line of .220/.282/.349 this season. Notice a trend? There have been consistent drops in average, on base and slugging in each of his three seasons at the helm. That drop in production should likely elicit a change in leadership no matter if you are making widgets or trying to squeeze out base hits.
But before we tar and feather Plantier as he leaves town, a dose of honesty needs to be sprinkled into the negativity.
Remember Dave Magadan?
He ended his career with the Padres back in 2001, then became their hitting coach from 2003 to 2005. The best hitting season from those three years as a team came in 2004 when the Padres slash line checked in at .281/.351/.428. But in the other two years the team failed to hit better than .266.
In 2007, after being fired by the Padres, he became the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox. Along with winning the World Series in his first year, those Red Sox would hit no worse than .280 and get on base at above a .440 clip in each of his first two seasons in Boston.
This leaves us with the obvious question, what made Dave Magadan a better hitting coach between October of 2006 and October of 2007?
Obvious answer, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Or, to put it another way, better hitters made Dave Magadan a better hitting coach. Ramiro Mendoza probably would have been able to coach that roster to a .280 average.
So while Phil Plantier is deserving of little to no trust as a Major League hitting coach, even when he is out of town, this organization is going to be in a perpetual state of hiring and firing hitting coaches until proper changes are made to get better hitters in this line-up.