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Monday, November 26, 2012

Cubs hire Rob Deer as assistant hitting coach

Time for a Rob Deer Fan Club reunion. Primates may know about his .766 career OPS, while the Chassites may not.

Chicago is the latest team to join the trend of multiple hitting coaches, as the Cubs have hired Rob Deer to assist primary hitting coach James Rowson. Deer has been a hitting instructor in the Padres’ farm system and was teammates with Cubs manager Dale Sveum on the Brewers.

Greg Franklin Posted: November 26, 2012 at 05:19 PM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers, cubs, padres

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   1. Spahn Insane Posted: November 26, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4310059)
Yes, well, making too much contact was quite the problem for the Cubs last year...
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 26, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4310063)
Definitely a "Do as I say, not do as I did" man. But then this is the Cubs, so by definition everything's just a big joke.
   3. Greg K Posted: November 26, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4310064)
I have a vague memory of seeing Rob Deer hit a homerun on a pitch that bounced. This would have happened some time between 1987 and 1992, and was likely against the Jays (as I think about 95% of the games I watched at that age were Jays games). I think it is about 7% likely that this actually happened and is not a figment of my distorted childhood memory.

I was thinking about it the other day because a guy on my baseball team hit a home run on a ball that bounced about six inches infront of the plate. Granted our fences are under 300 feet, but it was still impressive. He comes from a cricket background though so he didn't think it was a big deal.
   4. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 26, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4310065)
They should sprout a sense of humor and just call it the College of Hitting Coaches.
   5. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: November 26, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4310070)
Rob Deer as a hitting coach is hysterical
   6. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: November 26, 2012 at 07:52 PM (#4310075)
Typical Cubs Hitting Coach Day:

10:00 - show up at park
10:30 - finish coffee, reading newspaper, Twitter feeds, etc.
11:00 - walk over to hitters' meeting
11:30 - get up to address hitters
11:31 - "Swing as hard as you can, all the time"
11:32 - go watch soaps
1:20 - sit on bench with Sveum
   7. ursus arctos Posted: November 26, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4310083)
Clearly the coyotes that have been frequenting Wrigley during the off-season knew this was coming.
   8. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: November 26, 2012 at 08:11 PM (#4310086)
All right... snark aside, how does an "assistant hitting coach" actually work?

One guy is the swing away guy, and one guy does bunts and other "special" situations?

Does one guy work with some people, the other guy with other people?

Does Deer, in this situation, parrot Rowson's style? What if he disagrees?
   9. McCoy Posted: November 26, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4310096)
It will all end in tears.
   10. villageidiom Posted: November 26, 2012 at 08:52 PM (#4310105)
All right... snark aside, how does an "assistant hitting coach" actually work?
The Boston Globe was talking about this just the other day, given the Red Sox's ongoing search for two hitting coaches. I guess because of the recent emphasis on video that the amount of work is greater than one hitting coach can handle.

So maybe one is focusing on the skills drills: helping with their timing, hand-eye coordination, batting cage, etc. And the other is going through stats and video compilations of the hitter, as well as the opposing team's pitchers, and developing strategies that help to maximize those skills. While in the past a team might have a video coordinator handle some of the latter, maybe they're finding that a former player can translate the video into something useful for current players better than a videotape jockey can.


   11. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: November 26, 2012 at 09:09 PM (#4310116)
Yes, well, making too much contact was quite the problem for the Cubs last year..
I can't possibly improve on this.
   12. flournoy Posted: November 26, 2012 at 09:12 PM (#4310118)
I like this part of Rob Deer's transaction history:

July 3, 1995: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Diego Padres.
September 5, 1995: Released by the San Diego Padres.
December 11, 1995: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Diego Padres.
March 27, 1996: Released by the San Diego Padres.
April 15, 1996: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Diego Padres.
   13. Transmission Posted: November 26, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4310157)
Oh, Deer God.
   14. FrankM Posted: November 26, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4310165)
#12 - that looks like something you see a lot in OOTP. And some people complain it never happens in real life.
   15. Tom (and his broom) Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:40 PM (#4310237)
Actually that happens quite a bit, fringe player out of options is released to make space on the roster, signs again with the same team when no one else shows interest.
   16. asinwreck Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4310240)
Yes, well, making too much contact was quite the problem for the Cubs last year...


If only Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett were still on the team.
   17. ...and Toronto selects: Troy Tulowitzki Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4310241)
Definitely a "Do as I say, not do as I did" man. But then this is the Cubs, so by definition everything's just a big joke.


Maybe Rob Deer *will* preach the exact opposite approach from his playing days. Jays hitting coach of the last 3 years, Dwayne Murphy sure has. He of the .246/.356/.402 career average over 12 years, has been fond of saying things like this:

“I think on-base percentage is an overrated stat. Those guys getting on base, most of them aren’t getting them in. Give me somebody who drives them in after that. I need guys who can drive the ball.”

He was replaced today by Chad Mottola, and moved to 1B coach.
   18. Spahn Insane Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:48 PM (#4310248)
Snark aside, much though Deer was a K machine and (extremely) low-average hitter, he did draw a fair number of walks. It's not like he was Shawon Dunston or somebody. Guy managed a .324 career OBP while hitting .220.
   19. Spahn Insane Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:50 PM (#4310251)
I was thinking Adam Dunn's dreadful 2011 was similar to Deer's year when he hit .179, but they were nowhere close; Deer was almost an average hitter (92 OPS+) that year.
   20. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:04 AM (#4310264)
Dwayne Murphy sure has. He of the .246/.356/.402 career average over 12 years, has been fond of saying things like this:

“I think on-base percentage is an overrated stat. Those guys getting on base, most of them aren’t getting them in. Give me somebody who drives them in after that. I need guys who can drive the ball.”


hmmm--think carefully about what you just said, Dwayne...
   21. J.R. Wolf Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:06 AM (#4310267)
Rob "Mendoza Line" Deer as a hitting coach? To paraphrase Bill James, Rob Deer is to hitting what Thurman Munson was to aviation.

Send your resumes to the Cubs today, guys! If they'll hire Deer as a pitching coach they'll hire ANYBODY,
   22. theboyqueen Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:50 AM (#4310302)
What's the story behind his final 1996 season? His stat line that year is unbelievable. Out of the league for 2 years and then .180/.359/.480 (OPS+ of 125!) in 62 PA with 30(!) strikeouts and 4 homers, for the Padres. Why don't I remember this? That statline has to be unique in several respects, including an incredible TTO% of 75%.

Where was he the previous two years?
   23. Cooper Nielson Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:51 AM (#4310303)
If they'll hire Deer as a pitching coach they'll hire ANYBODY,

Well, yeah, I guess so.
   24. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:07 AM (#4310369)
Where was he the previous two years?


In 1994, he put up a line of .151/.279/.297 in 70 games for the Hanshin Tigers. Eight home runs and 76 strikeouts in 192 AB (ouch!). He spent all of 1995 in the PCL, hitting .290/.382/.571 with 18 home runs, in 89 games with Vancouver and Las Vegas.
   25. BrianBrianson Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:14 AM (#4310376)
There's a terrific story in Moneyball about how Scott Hatterberg hated Jim Rice as a hitting coach, because he kept trying to make Hatterberg hit like him, which didn't work for him at all. Terrible hitters made much better hitting coaches, as they didn't try to make you hit like them, because they sucked.

I thought you had to memorise Moneyball to even be allowed to know the secret of how to calculate slugging percentage, nevermind post here?
   26. Jason Michael(s) Bourn Identity Crisis Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:31 AM (#4310378)
Given that Phil Plantier is the Padres' hitting coach, the Sox clearly had to one-up them.
   27. RollingWave Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:33 AM (#4310385)
Someone should just hire the batting stance guy as an assistant hitting coach.
   28. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:47 AM (#4310395)
Rob "Mendoza Line" Deer as a hitting coach? To paraphrase Bill James, Rob Deer is to hitting what Thurman Munson was to aviation.
actually, James was long a defender of Deer as a reasonably valuable player. Deer was legitimately ahead of his time. Pretty much everyone in baseball hits like Deer now. Obviously you want your hitters to make contact when they swing as hard as they can, and hitting coaches don't necessarily preach what they practiced, but Deer's MLB career would be a mild positive for me.

It was mentioned in the intro, but does no one remember the RDFC?
   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:21 AM (#4310412)
rob deer had a career ops+ of 109. he rarely hit into double plays. he drew ball 4. in what world is that a guy who doesn't know how to hit?

there are a lot of folks in this thread who apparently missed context 101 class.

and while it's not germane to his offense rob deer was a decent all around player. he was a solid outfielder who regularly challenged walls, could throw with anybody and ran the bases well. his negatives were that he struck out a lot and about once a month would airmail a throw over home plate or third base. while with the brewers he was often considered the best athlete on the team and this was on a squad with paul molitor and robin yount
   30. formerly dp Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:35 AM (#4310416)
I enjoyed the #### out of Rob Deer, the player. And my favorable impressions of him were definitely shaped by the comments James made on him in the Abstracts.
   31. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4310420)
Being able to hit and being able to teach hitting are two very different things. I'm pretty confident Deer isn't going to try to teach his guys to strike out as often as possible.
   32. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:48 AM (#4310422)
Isn't the ideal hitting coach somebody who:
1) Is a strong communicator and teacher; and
2) Was good enough to stick around for a good length of time as a player, but
3) had to work at it in order to stay good enough to play; and
4) wasn't so good that he had natural ability to carry him to a legit career.

If you don't have #1, I don't think you can be an effective coach, long-term. If you're Ken Griffey, I have to believe there would be moments where you'd be like, "I don't know, you just turn on an inside fastball, that's why!", and then the pupil sits there, going, "Easy for you to say, Ken ####ing Griffey, Junior!".

I guy like Dave Magadan, who left the Red Sox recently to go to the Rangers, strikes me as a guy who probably had to stay on top his own game in order to stick around as long as he did. Ozzie Smith, ironically, would probably be a heck of a hitting coach, in that he is as good an example of somebody who made himself into a very effective offensive player over many years. I mean, look at his stats his first few years in San Diego - just dreadful. By the late 1980s, he was a far better hitter. Of course, your team's shortstop would be like, "Just go to the backhand - easy for you to say, Ozzie ####ing Smith!"
   33. Rants Mulliniks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4310425)
while with the brewers he was often considered the best athlete on the team


So what you're saying Harvey is that he was the white Bo Jackson?
   34. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4310429)
cold

rob certainly had a lot of 'moments' in milwaukee. his home run against texas to tie the game on easter sunday in 1987 is the most famous. as background the brewers had won 12 in a row but were trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the 9th aginst the rangers but after two guys get on base and mitch williams gets cooper the rangers bring in greg harris to face deer since deer was known to crush lefties. a week earlier valentine had williams intentionally walk deer in texas to avoid the same matchup

harris hung a curve and deer crushed it about 440 feet into the left field bleachers. sveum's 2 run homer later in the inning was almost lost in the din that was still being raised at the deer blast

i can think of about another five rob deer highlights without trying and i suspect that goes for most brewer fans
   35. Rants Mulliniks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:14 AM (#4310433)
After I posted that, I realized that they really are quite similar. Bo walked a less and maybe had the best arm strength of all time.
   36. zonk Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:25 AM (#4310437)
Setting aside the "college of coaches" aspect of having an "assistant hitting coach" -- I gotta agree with all the non-Cubs fans here in thinking that Deer's success or failure will have almost nothing to do with his playing career K rate...

I remember Gary Matthews tenure as hitting coach -- Matthews pedigree as a hitter was precisely what you'd like... pretty good eye/BB rate, decent power, all-around fine hitter. He was the first Cubs hitting coach I was excited about.... he was the roving minor league hitting instructor in the late 90s and then Dusty's hitting coach from 2003 to 2006....

His big league tenure with the Cubs saw only veteran imports have any success -- while all the Cubs' kids of the era; Choi, Patterson, Kelton, Dubois, Murton, Pagan, Cedeno either scuffled into obscurity or found more success after leaving the organization.

Meanwhile, his minor league roving hitting instructor tenure in the late 90s is a wasteland of "never made its" -- including the aforementioned Kelton and Patterson, there was also Brooks Kieschnick, Pat Cline, Jaisen Randolph, Kevin Orie, among a few others.

Again - when you look at Sarge's career line, you see someone you'd want to clone as a hitter... but he was an absolutely dreadful hitting instructor.

Deer may suck, too -- but I'm not in any way, shape, or form using his career slash line as a guidepost...
   37. TomH Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4310445)
sabermetrics is begging for research on hitting coaches; what kind of batters in their MLB career make for coaches who end up with longer tenures? Some simple regression analyses on variables like MLB success (PA, OPS+), type of hitter (power, walks, avg), growth over time (aging curve) might actually show more than the cute snark we luv to toss around here.
   38. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4310456)
tom raises a great point on the areas of study that have been left fallow

   39. zonk Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4310479)
sabermetrics is begging for research on hitting coaches; what kind of batters in their MLB career make for coaches who end up with longer tenures? Some simple regression analyses on variables like MLB success (PA, OPS+), type of hitter (power, walks, avg), growth over time (aging curve) might actually show more than the cute snark we luv to toss around here.


How do you judge their results?

It seems like just using team stats before/after would be next to meaningless -- I'm pretty sure Barry Bonds ends up as one of the best hitters of all time even if he had spent his entire career under my tutelage as a hitting coach, while I feel relatively certain that even god can't make Neifi Perez into A-Rod (or even Edgar Renteria).

I would imagine that you'd want to weight player impacts by age/experience -- I cited Sarge above as a miserable failure, but Derrek Lee, of course - put up a career year in 2005 while he was hitting coach... Maybe Matthews gets some credit for that - but Lee was a fine hitter, it was his age 29 season, and his 2nd in a better hitters park than he played in down in Florida.

As a rough outline, I guess I'd look at players in three categories:

1) Experienced veterans that play regularly - i.e., any player that would be expected to get 600 PAs regardless

2) Veterans with high variance -- i.e., the Angel Pagan types who bounce around for a while before finally 'clicking'

3) Kids
   40. Jay Z Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4310521)
Agree with Harvey that Deer was a very good athlete. Yount was equally good, but was older at the time, of course.

Ted Williams was a great hitter and did have some ability to pass knowledge along. Actual demonstrated skill might not be that significant a variable. You could have guys hitting .330 and guys hitting .210 that both know what they need to do to maximize performance, with different result levels.
   41. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4310537)
sabermetrics is begging for research on hitting coaches; what kind of batters in their MLB career make for coaches who end up with longer tenures? Some simple regression analyses on variables like MLB success (PA, OPS+), type of hitter (power, walks, avg), growth over time (aging curve) might actually show more than the cute snark we luv to toss around here.

It would be good to see that, and I expect that the null hypothesis of zero effect will be tough to reject.
   42. Rants Mulliniks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4310564)
Seeing as how one of, if not the best pitching coach of all time wasn't even a pitcher (Duncan), and the other guy who's considered one of, if not the best, only pitched 56 innings above AA and never made it to the majors (Mazzone), I don't see why you'd have to have been a good ML hitter to be a good hitting coach.
   43. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4310567)
I thought you had to memorise Moneyball know how to spell Scott Hatteberg's name to even be allowed to know the secret of how to calculate slugging percentage, nevermind post here?

Sorry #25, you're out.
   44. Ron J2 Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4310615)
but does no one remember the RDFC?


Of course I remember the Cult of The Deer. Pretty much anybody who was an RSB alum would.

As a side note, the first mention of Deer (as an intriguing prospect) coincides with (as far as I know) James' fist mention of "batting average when not striking out".

Thus outing "Walt Davis" as Bill James.
   45. Ron J2 Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4310620)
How do you judge their results?


It's an interesting question. There's nobody with Ted Williams' record for short term success. The number of players who had a career year within a year or two of working with him is amazing.

But I can't think of anybody who sustained that improvement over the long haul.

   46. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: November 27, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4310697)
I guess that Pete Incaviglia should be expecting a phone call soon.
   47. SouthSideRyan Posted: November 27, 2012 at 02:49 PM (#4310723)
Yes, well, making too much contact was quite the problem for the Cubs last year...


NL League average was 1238. Cubs struck out 1235 times. Not walking was quite the problem for the Cubs last year.
   48. Walt Davis Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4311133)
Thus outing "Walt Davis" as Bill James.

Nah, I'm just animated.

I think I stole it from the famed Rich Lederer who was using it for a different purpose. Not that it's exactly a stroke of genius.
   49. Der-K, the bloodied charmer Posted: November 28, 2012 at 06:34 AM (#4311189)
Iirc (and I'm not sure that i do), rdfc was the name I originally posted under here...

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