Yesterday afternoon, the Washington Nationals decided to firing hitting coach Rick Eckstein. While something was needed to help get the bats going, firing your hitting coach won’t change a thing.
Much like in the NBA, coaching has very little to do with what is happening on the playing field. The only way the head coach, or manager in baseball, can affect the game is by playing or sitting a particular player. Other than that, the players are going to do what they’re going to do. They’re grown men, or women, and they have their habits set in stone.
The Nationals are arguably the worst hitting team in MLB. The club, now in third place in the NL East after going 0-4 to start the second half, are 28th in runs, 27th in batting average, 28th in on-base percentage and 23rd in slugging percentage. It doesn’t matter how you cut it, the Nationals just can’t hit, and firing the hitting coach won’t change that.
It has nothing to do with Eckstein. These guys have their swings, routines and thought processes down when they step to the plate. Eckstein could have given them all the advice and wisdom in the world and they still could blow it all off. They’ll come back to the dugout after a poor at-bat and we’ll all wonder and debate what went wrong.
While firing Eckstein may not solve any of the Nationals’ problems, at least this is a sign that general manager Mike Rizzo is open to fixing things by any means necessary. In all honesty, firing Eckstein was likely the cheapest solution at this point in time since it would be fairly difficult to make any major personnel moves. The only major move they should make is getting rid of pitcher Dan Haren, who had another meltdown on the mound. But that’s a different rant for a different day.
This post belongs to Mr. Eckstein, and I’ll leave you with a quote that third baseman Ryan Zimmerman gave reporters after hearing the news yesterday afternoon that sums everything up.
“No coach is going to make you a .300 hitter. Once you get to this level, you are what you are.”