How Brown plans to help Mariners upgrade offense

January 16th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Daniel Kramer’s Mariners Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

SEATTLE -- The Mariners’ paramount priority this offseason has been to upgrade their offense, and they believe one of their newest acquisitions will be among the most vital keys to doing so.

That’d be new bench coach and offensive coordinator Brant Brown, who rejoins the organization following stops with the Dodgers and Marlins, where he was a hitting coach on those club’s Major League staffs. Prior to that, he spent 2013-17 as Seattle’s Minor League field coordinator.

Brown will lend an ear to manager Scott Servais for strategic purposes and will complement hitting coach Jarret DeHart with players -- specifically with pregame approach and in-game adjustments.

The Mariners’ newest addition to the coaching staff recently chatted with about the role. What goes into the hybrid position you’re fulfilling?

Brown: “As a hitting coach, you're used to knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your own hitters, and the strengths and weaknesses of the pitchers that might be coming in, bullpen-wise or starter-wise, and be able to provide the manager with maybe some suggestions on a lineup or a pinch-hit situation. That part, I've been doing for years.

“But I think it's more just about the communication and kind of knowing where your needs are on that day, and understanding that it might change each and every day. So I think coming out of the gate, it'll be making sure that our hitters are ready and have a good plan to take into the game to win that game. And then on the flip side, just communicating with Scott, kind of understanding how we're going to run the game.”

Mariners hitting coach and director of hitting strategy Jarret DeHart (Getty Images) Specifically on hitting approaches, how will you complement DeHart?

Brown: “The balance is understanding: One, what is it going to take to defeat the pitcher? And then two, implementing a game plan to do so. And then you kind of get into our hitters, which are like strengths and weaknesses, how do we think that they're going to attack our guys? How do we get them prepared?

“And then obviously, the ability to handle failure as a hitter isn't always the easiest thing. I think the confidence and trust in JD's knowledge of each individual hitter and what they need to do goes without saying, so that kind of portion I don't really have to worry about. I've been doing the game-planning portion for five years in L.A., one year in Miami.” Making in-game adjustments was a well-chronicled issue for the Mariners’ offense last year -- how do you improve here?

Brown: “There's two kinds of adjustments to be made: One, is the hitter just abandoning ship because he didn't get a result, which is not really a very good strategy? And then two, is the pitcher going off script and doing something different?

“On the first part, our hitters need to be accountable. Our hitters need to have a plan coming into the game, and they can't let one shot affect their next. That's a really, really important thing for our hitters to understand. You can't let one at-bat affect the next and then try to think the plan was bad or the swing was bad. You have to execute and understand that in this game, we make outs. But the big thing for our offense is like, are we making our outs the way that we want to make them? Because then there's more glimmer of hope, there's more confidence, which then establishes a parameter for later on in the game.

“Or understanding that this pitcher is doing something different. And then going up to each guy individually and making adjustments for what usages and pitches that he's using.” Much has been made that strikeouts that were part of the Mariners’ game last year -- how do you cut down on swing-and-miss?

Brown: “The more you can just teach them the game of baseball, which means that every pitch isn't created equally. You have to know where you're at in the count. Because when the pitcher is ahead, the chase goes up and the slug goes down. So you have to know where you're at in the count, where you're at in the game -- what is the game telling you that it requires? Is there a situation that I have to have intent to do? And then from that point, you have to calibrate your shot.

“There are different shots for different counts in the at-bat and situations where these guys are all grown men. If they barreled the ball, it's going to go. And that's one of the things that we talked about -- slug is thrown, it's not hit. So if we take that under consideration, what do we need to do in the moments that we need to hit? And you have to hit it before you can slug it in the first place.”