The Padres' well-chronicled struggles to put runners on the basepaths prompted the front office to steer in a direction that it hopes will lead to improved hitting, particularly with a lineup they believe will have far more potential in 2019. On Tuesday, MLB.com learned that hitting coach Matt Stairs and
The Padres' well-chronicled struggles to put runners on the basepaths prompted the front office to steer in a direction that it hopes will lead to improved hitting, particularly with a lineup they believe will have far more potential in 2019. On Tuesday, MLB.com learned that hitting coach Matt Stairs and infielders coach Josh Johnson will not return next season after the club wasn't able to take the improved strides it had hoped for.
Stairs and Johnson were each only with the club for one season, which continues a trend of turnover. Stairs, who played with the Padres in 2010 and was the Phillies' hitting coach in '17, was the club's ninth hitting coach in the last 15 seasons.
The club, which has not confirmed the decisions, is still finalizing its staff, but it's believed that the front office will look internally to replace Stairs. Assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington and Triple-A hitting coach Morgan Burkhart are candidates.
The Padres had hoped Stairs would oversee a significant offensive step this season, particularly after the club made a splash in free agency to sign first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million deal to fortify a lineup that included former All-Star William Myers, outfielders Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot and Franmil Reyes and catcher Austin Hedges, who by most accounts underachieved.
San Diego finished last in on-base percentage (.297) for the fifth straight season, and the club finished third worst in slugging percentage (.380) and batting average (.235) while striking out 1,523 times, which trailed only the White Sox 1,594 tally.
Hosmer went on to have arguably the worst year of his career, hitting .253/.322/.398 with 18 homers and just 69 RBIs while primarily hitting out of run-producing spots in the lineup, second through cleanup. Hosmer had a -0.1 fWAR and 95 wRC+, which were both significant declines from the 4.1 and 135 figures, respectively, that he posted as an All-Star in his final year with the Royals.
Hosmer has been a consistent power threat throughout his career, but the well-reported ground-ball issues that he possessed in Kansas City continued with him, perhaps at a more glaring rate, in San Diego. Hosmer, who sports a long, left-handed swing, in September became more open to creating more lift, an adjustment he had been wary of before. Hosmer's -1.2 degree average launch angle and 61.0 percent ground ball rate ranked worst and second-worst among 228 hitters with at least 250 balls in play.
Renfroe showed signs of improvement, but he didn't take the leap that the club had hoped for, matching his 2017 home run total with 26 while slashing .248/.302/.504 over 117 games. Myers was plagued by three trips to the disabled list, and he finished with a line of .253/.318/.446. Margot struggled so much hitting where the club planned him at leadoff, with a .183/.210/.307 line that he was moved down to the seven- and eight-holes as the season went on.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.