Bucs hire Haines as hitting coach (source)

November 23rd, 2021

The Pirates have an agreement with Andy Haines to be their new hitting coach, a source told MLB.com on Tuesday.

The club has not confirmed the hiring.

Haines was dismissed by the Brewers as hitting coach at the end of the 2021 season after the team hit .233 -- tied for the worst mark in the National League with the Marlins -- and posted a .713 OPS (20th in MLB) in the regular season.

Haines’ journey as a pro hitting coach began in 2008, when he served as a hitting coach in the Marlins’ farm system, working his way from Rookie ball to Triple-A in 2014-15. The Cubs hired him in ‘16 to oversee their Minor League hitting instruction, but he was quickly promoted in ‘17 to the Major League team as an assistant hitting coach.

The Brewers tabbed Haines in November 2018 as their hitting coach, and in his first season, they were one of the better offensive teams. Milwaukee’s .329 OBP ranked ninth in MLB in 2019, and the team’s .767 OPS was 12th, carried by '18 NL MVP Christian Yelich’s gargantuan follow-up season.

However, the Crew’s numbers compared to the league began to drop in the shortened 2020 season, and that carried over in ‘21, with drops by Yelich (.234 average between 2020-21) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (.497 OPS in 2021) most striking on an individual level.

Pittsburgh’s opening for hitting coach came at the end of August, when Rick Eckstein was dismissed, a decision that manager Derek Shelton said he made the move to complete.

Shelton, a former hitting coach, has said that his ideal candidate could lead a hitting instruction program, and Haines’ dual experience in the Minors and Majors as well as in an organization-wide role fits that bill. Player development is also a Haines family trait: Andy’s brother, Kyle, is the director of player development for the Giants.

The Pirates are in dire need of an uptick in offense. Last season, they were the worst MLB team in slugging percentage (.364) and the third worst in OPS (.673). With a wave of position-player prospects set to make their MLB debuts in the coming season, Haines will be poised to help usher them into the big leagues while hoping to improve some of the holdovers like Ke’Bryan Hayes, who scuffled with the bat around a couple of injuries and posted a .689 OPS in 96 games.