The venting continues about what is wrong with the Rays and who needs to go continues and this time it is time to attack Derek Shelton, the wait, swing and miss, and watch some more strikes (also known as our hitting coach). This was Shelton’s first year as the Rays new swing coach and the results were confusing and frustrating for everyone, while Shelton thought it was normal. Shelton was one of the main reasons the Rays were so bad this year.
Shelton came from Cleveland, so right from the start, not the best place to find a hitting coach from (Eric Wedge supported him, but Wedge is filing for unemployment at the moment). Many also hold Shelton responsible for the regression of Grady Sizemore and his lack of production, but this is all blog rumors here (but interesting to debate about).
Shelton has a very simple approach at the plate, take the first pitch. He is all about seeing pitches and waiting for the right one to swing at. This is where the Rays fall apart. Pitchers today throw hard fastballs and a big majority of the time, for strike one. So most of the time, the Rays were down 0-1 in the count and had to change their approach at the plate. For lead-off hitters, number two hitters, taking pitches is a good approach, but the power hitters need to jump on a fastball and make contact to drive and move runners, Shelton doesn’t understand that concept.
Shelton stated he did not worry about batting average, saying it was an out of date stat. Wait, what? Batting average reflects the hitters ability to make successful contact and put the ball in play, there is a big difference between a below .200 hitter and a .320 hitter. Shelton didn’t care about that and stressed his philosophy and the Rays struggled to hit consistently through the season.
Shelton will stand by the run production that the Rays had all year as his reason for success. But how many no-hitters were thrown against the Rays? How many 1-hit games did the Rays have and how many times did the Rays struggle to score more than one run? The Rays were too inconsistent all season long and it put all sorts of stress on the defense and questionable bull pen. The Rays scored a majority of their runs on bad teams, such as Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, etc.
So will they cut Shelton? No. Shelton is under contract, Maddon supports him (who thinks he is a genius?), and the ownership won’t move him because they have no money to get a new hitting coach. Shelton will be back and will continue to ruin the swings of our hitters, make our offense painful to watch, and probably allow a few more pitchers to throw no-hitters against us.