Detroit Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh not returning after two seasons




Manager A.J. Hinch refused to shake up his coaching staff during the season, claiming the 24-hour news cycle wouldn't fix the problem. But the Detroit Tigers' offense, churning out historically bad results, never improved.

Hinch wouldn't budge from his midseason stance.

On Friday, the inevitable happened. The Tigers announced that hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh will not return, just one day after the conclusion of the 2022 campaign. The Tigers, shut out 22 times and held to 3.44 runs per game, finished 66-96 overall for fourth place in the American League Central.

Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh watches against the Athletics in the first inning in Detroit, Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh watches against the Athletics in the first inning in Detroit, Thursday, May 12, 2022.  

It's been a miserable year for the Tigers' offense.

The 22 shutouts are the most by an American League team since the implementation of the designated hitter in 1973. The Tigers finished four shutouts shy of tying the franchise record, 26, set in 1904.

WHAT A YEAR:Tigers' finale in Seattle a taste of what could have been and ultimately wasn't in 2022

Among the 30 MLB teams, the Tigers ranked 25th in batting average (.231), 29th in on-base percentage (.286), 30th in slugging percentage (.346), 30th in isolated power (.115), 29th in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.632), 29th in walk rate (6.5%), 27th in strikeout rate (24.1%), 30th in chase rate (36.7%) and 30th in wRC+ (81).

In November 2020, roughly one week after Hinch's hire, Coolbaugh joined the Tigers as the hitting coach. Coolbaugh, 56, previously worked for the Texas Rangers (2011-12), Baltimore Orioles (2015-18) and Chicago White Sox (2020) at the major-league level.

Several hitters experienced career-best seasons, but one year later, many of them regressed to career-worst campaigns. Veterans Robbie Grossman (traded to the Atlanta Braves in August), Jonathan Schoop (.561 OPS in 131 games) and Jeimer Candelario (.633 OPS in 124 games) failed to continue their success.

Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop celebrates after hitting a solo home run off Guardians pitcher Eli Morgan during the sixth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Guardians on Monday, Aug.
Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop celebrates after hitting a solo home run off Guardians pitcher Eli Morgan during the sixth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Guardians on Monday, Aug.  

In 2021, Schoop received a two-year, $15 million contract extension that keeps him around through the 2023 season. Meanwhile, Grossman and Candelario were two contract extension candidates entering 2022.

"Scott cannot hit for us," Schoop, who first trained under Coolbaugh in Baltimore, said Aug. 16. "He has provided everything he can help us with. At the same time, I have to step in the box and hit, not him. He can only do so much. He can teach us and show us what we're doing wrong, but at the end of the day, it's you stepping in the box."

THE BRIGHT SIDE:Here are the Tigers' odds of winning first-ever 2023 MLB draft lottery

Javier Báez commanded a six-year, $140 million contract in December and was supposed to carry the offense. The 29-year-old logged a full-season career-worst .671 OPS in 144 games. A terrible May weighed down an otherwise decent season, but he wasn't pleased with the numbers on the back of his baseball card. Austin Meadows, under team control through 2024, dealt with several injuries before shutting down his season for mental health reasons. Tucker Barnhart, signed to a one-year deal for his defense and game calling as a veteran catcher, launched just one home run in 308 plate appearances.

Rookie Spencer Torkelson, 23, didn't look like a former No. 1 overall pick this season, hitting .203 with eight home runs and practically zero mechanical adjustments over 110 games. Fellow rookie Riley Greene, who turned 22 in late September, was one of the few bright spots and should develop into a franchise cornerstone. Still, he didn't flash as much power as the Tigers would have liked.

"Every time things go back, it's the coaches," Schoop said. "It's the coaches, the manager, whatever. When things go good, it's the players. That's how it is with fans. The fans think (Coolbaugh) needs to do something for us to get better, but he does that."

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

Tigers catcher Eric Haase is congratulated by manager A.
Tigers catcher Eric Haase is congratulated by manager A.  

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh not returning

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