Whether anyone believes that a hitting coach (or in this case, two hitting coaches) can actually make a difference doesn’t really matter. At this point, Steve Henderson (along with Wally Joyner, who will be the Philadelphia Phillies assistant hitting coach) believes that he will be the team’s new hit man.
For a number of years Phillies’ hitters destroyed the egos of major league pitchers across North America. They made contact with so many pitches that the unemployment rate of numerous mound men spiked to depression-era levels. Then the Philadelphia mashers stopped stomping sometime after their 2009 World Series appearance against the New York Yankees took place.
Say all that you want about working the count, talking a walk, moving the runner, sacrificing and every other plate strategy. A hitting coach is expected to help batters hit, pure and simple.
It would seem difficult to believe that any of the Phillies’ veteran players will be able to adjust their hitting ways this late in their career game. However, I think that Henderson’s prior experience as the Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach and his success with a variety of young players at Lehigh Valley during the last few seasons should allow his message to be accepted by the majority of the roster as time moves on.
This Texas native hasn’t been brought in to revive the Phillies “glory days” (2007-2009). Instead, it appears as though his hiring is part of a strategy shift that is being paired with a roster transition that began to take place at last summer’s trade deadline. Before anyone passes judgment on the similarity of the newest Phillies’ lineup, as compared to recent inconsistent versions, the new guy deserves a few seasons to prove if he can hit the mark.