When your team’s offense is performing terribly, it’s first instinct to blame the hitting staff. The Milwaukee Brewers have been on a hot streak lately, being six games up in the NL Central and the criticism towards hitting coach Andy Haines has seemed to have quieted down.
The criticism towards Haines is nothing new for Brewers fans. After an awful 2020 season, fans were quick to jump to conclusions and blame the hitting coach. Though, you really can’t blame the hitting staff and offense when playing is put to a halt due to a pandemic. Trying to figure out when things would kick off again, the shortened Spring Training, everything was a factor to the rather upsetting numbers by some of the power hitters.
Andy Haines jumped aboard with the crew after former hitting coach Darnell Coles (2015-2018) stepped down from his role.
Why the Criticism?
Prior to the All-Star break, it was quite shocking to see the Brewers had 53 wins under their belt. In those games, their team batting average was at .209 with .353 slugging and an OBP of .295. The crew was sitting at the bottom of nearly every offensive category within the National League; It was really the pitching that was carrying the team. Collectively as a team since May 26, they’re posting a .229/316/.392/.707 slashline, and averaging 5.88 runs per game, and hold MLB’s best record standing at 43-21.
Is Haines Responsible for Poor Hitting?
While it may look like at times that Haines is to blame for the team’s run production; In reality, he has little if nothing to do with how the players drive in the runs. There isn’t really anything magical about Haines, but he’s been able to help players get out of slumps and give the athletes pieces of advice that’ll help them improve their style.
Looking at stats comparing how the team was under Coles and how they are under Haines, not much has changed. Notably, their batting average has gone down from .249 to .234. Since Haines was hired, the Brewers have had the worst batting average in the league with RISP. That raises concern, but, the problem didn’t start when Haines came to the team, that falls back on the predecessor.
Many fans are quick to jump the gun and say Haines should be fired when they look at how players have been performing. A big name that sticks out to many is Christian Yelich; While Yelich had an amazing 2018 and 2019, something about 2020 and 2021 just doesn’t seem right. But, even without Yelich’s power, the team is still in first place and winning games.
A proper hat off to GM David Stearns is definitely warranted. Gaining Willy Adames was a huge help to their turnaround. Additionally, gaining hot hitters from Rowdy Tellez, who’s hitting .319/.400/.580 with five home runs since coming from Toronto and Eduardo Escobar, who’s hitting .317/.391/.585 with two home runs since coming from Arizona via trade has really been key to their success.
There’s a surge of power coming from the newbies, but the so called ‘veterans’ of the team have been making significant marks for the Brewers as well.
Tyrone Taylor has massively improved and is sitting at .759 with nine homers.
Kolten Wong is having a near career year, sitting at .775 with eight homers.
Avisail Garcia is having a career year, sitting at .806 with 20 homers.
…Just to name a few.
Andy Haines = Best hitting coach in Baseball
Avi- career year
Narvaez- career year
Adames – career year
Wong- near career year
Urias- massive step forward
Taylor- massive step forward
Peterson- MASSIVE step forward
— Dario Melendez (@Dario_Melendez) August 12, 2021
An impressive 23 games over .500 and an eight game lead in the NL, the Milwaukee Brewers are definitely a power force.
Anyone still blaming Andy Haines are either hiding or have realized how wrong they are. He’s doing everything he can in order to make the team successful; It’s on the team to do their part in return and continue what they’re doing. It’s key to remember that the coach can only do so much for the players who are experiencing slumps. The hitting coach helps advise these players to become better forms of themselves.
This team is well on its way to the World Series for the first time since 1982. Whatever Haines is doing is working.
All Stats are courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.