Someone had to fall on the sword for the Angels poor start, and that someone was hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, who the team fired tonight. Hatcher will be replaced by the hitting coach at AAA Salt Lake for the Angels, Jim Eppard.
With top free agent signee Albert Pujols scuffling his way to a .536 OPS this season, Bobby Abreu OPSing just .593 and getting released, shortstop Erick Aybar (who just got a contract extension) struggling terribly with a .440 OPS, center fielder Peter Bourjos OPSing just .535 and getting benched, it made a lot of sense to dump Hatcher. Looking at the peripherals, it made even more sense. The team wasn't terribly unlucky, with a team BABIP of .286. Their 6.7% walk rate was fourth worst in baseball, and their .299 team OBP is absolutely inconceivable when you look at the hitters in their lineup.
The Angels are seven games back of the Rangers in the AL West, but only 4.5 games behind the Yankees for a wild card berth. Their run differential for the season is only -14, and the starting rotation hasn't been that bad, even with Ervin Santana's gopherball problems. There is too much season left to completely give up if you're the Angels, which is why I think this move was made. They need SOMETHING to spark them offensively, and a new hitting coach could be the right thing. Hell, look what's happened in Atlanta, where Greg Walker transformed one of the worst offenses in the league to one of the best with a slight amount of personnel changes.
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