I was holding off on writing this for a bit, but the ninth inning of the Orioles-Royals game convinced me that now had to the be the time. So here it is.
Jim Presley must be replaced as hitting coach for the Baltimore Orioles.
This isn’t some knee-jerk reaction, as the Orioles’ offense under Presley has been going backwards for a few seasons now. Many also know I’ve talked about this before but I’ll compile everything here to make my case why it has to happen now.
One thing we know about Presley is that he does not value on-base percentage as much as he values batting average and power from various interviews and quotes he’s had. This is also pretty evident when you look at the on-base percentage ranking for teams that he’s been the hitting coach for since 2005:
2005 Marlins: 4th
2006 Marlins: 23rd
2007 Marlins: 15th
2008 Marlins: 20th
2009 Marlins: 9th
2010 Marlins: 20th
2011 Orioles: 19th
2012 Orioles: 23rd
2013 Orioles: 20th
2014 Orioles: 22nd ( as of May 17th)
Presley’s teams have finished in the top 15 in OBP only 3 times in 9 years and the highest the Orioles have been ranked during his tenure as hitting coach was his first year in 2011 when they finshed 19th.
Looking back at his tenure with the Marlins, the one player that stands out for evidence of why he is a detriment for a team is Cameron Maybin.
Maybin was acquired in the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers, and at that time he was a 20 year old dynamic five tool centerfielder who was coming off a season of a .409 OBP in three levels in Detroit’s system with a 13.2 base on ball percentage (BB%)
So what happened when he got to the majors under Jim Presley? Well take a look:
So from 2009 to 2010 he decreased in weighted on-base average (wOBA), BB% and increased his frequency of striking out (K%) and swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone (OSwing%).
Only when he got away from Presley and the Marlins by being traded to the Padres, did his wOBA, BB% and K% start to change for the better, and he’s finally showing some promise offensively now at age 27, though not anywhere close to what was projected for him when he was a top prospect.
This should seem alarmingly familiar to Orioles fans as we are watching one of our favorite young players, Manny Machado have similar issues.
Here’s how he’s done since the beginning of 2013:
|1st half 2013
|2nd half 2013
So you can see even though he’s walking more and striking out less, he’s still getting on base at a lesser rate, because like Maybin, he’s becoming more aggressive and increasing his percentage of swings outside of the strike zone.
In fact, the Orioles currently lead the American League at percentage of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone and haven’t relinquished that position since I last wrote about it here back in April.
Since we looked at OBP, let’s take a look at where Presley’s teams ranked in MLB in terms of greatest percentage of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone courtesy of Fangraphs:
2005 Marlins: 15th
2006 Marlins: 13th
2007 Marlins: 7th
2008 Marlins: 14th
2009 Marlins: 17th
2010 Marlins: 11th
2011 Orioles: 7th
2012 Orioles: 9th
2013 Orioles: 8th
2014 Orioles: 2nd (as of May 17th)
As you can see, his teams have had 8 out of 9 seasons in the top 15 and 4 seasons in the top 10 including all three with the Orioles and they are on pace for the fourth straight year in the top 10 and their highest position in Presley’s tenure.
This team is far too aggressive at the plate and it is hurting their ability to get on base and score runs.
You can say it’s the players, but when you look at players like Maybin and Machado, you see that the patience and ability to get on base was there in the minor leagues and it’s the hitting coach’s job to get as close to that same performance in MLB as possible. Judging from the numbers, I’d say Presley has failed on both accounts thus far.
Dan Duquette has said he wants to mold the Orioles into a team that values on-base percentage as that was a backbone of his success in Montreal and Boston. You can’t do that with a hitting coach that either does not have the ability or flat out refuses to teach having an approach and a plan at the plate that doesn’t involve swinging for the fences no matter where the ball is pitched.
Getting back to tonight’s game – it’s the perfect example of why the Orioles can’t have success with the philosophy they have. Adam Jones didn’t have to deliver a hit with one out. He could have taken the pitches in the dirt and worked the count and maybe he would have got something better to hit, or he would have least had a better shot to get on base which would have had Royals closer Greg Holland facing Chris Davis with a bases-loaded situation.
But no, that’s not Adam Jones, who wants to be the hero and deliver a game winning hit. Jim Presley wants him to be that guy as that is what he was in his career, and encourages Jones and other players to be just like he was – to be aggressive and be that guy. However, that’s not what the Orioles really need.
Instead, the Orioles need players to not to try to be a hero, but to try to win as a team and you win more often as a team when you work counts, get on base and let other guys drive you in if you can’t get anything to hit which unless you are Vlad Guerrero, includes pitches in the dirt.
To make matters worse the Orioles wasted another good effort by Bud Norris with their offensive ineptitude. Pitching is also no longer as much of a problem as it once was on this team because the Orioles acted in the offseason and replaced their pitching coaches and brought in some new talent. It’s now the offense, and their inability to score runs that looks to hold this team back and that’s because they kept the Jim Presley and the Jim Presley-type hitters they had and added more in the offseason.
The only way to change the offensive fortunes of a team with a bunch of Jim Presleys is to start removing and replacing them one by one.
The Orioles must start with their hitting coach.