New Texas Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan shared a little insight into his hitting philosophy Friday afternoon. It's nothing complicated, but it's a formula that certainly worked for him in Boston.
Magadan doesn't want passive hitters. In fact, the attitude he wants is for them to go to home plate thinking they're going to swing at every pitch, like they do in batting practice.
“To be a hitter at the big league level, you have to have the attitude that you’re swinging at every pitch until it’s a ball,” Magadan said. “That little bit of passiveness or delayed on being ready to hit, once you decide it’s too late, you hit it foul late. That’s something you look for in all hitters. Even your very patient hitters, their attitude is they are swinging at every pitch and your eyes will tell you whether to swing.”
Magadan said he doesn't believe in one perfect swing and said that his job is to find out what each player's swing is doing when they are at their best and help them find that spot when they aren't doing well. With that, comes an attitude that they recognize good pitches to hit and hit them.
He used Jacoby Ellsbury as an example. Magadan worked with Ellsbury as a young hitter and helped him develop more gap power and become a more consistent all-around hitter.
"The first time I saw Jacoby, I saw him taking batting practice and for a guy that his calling card was his speed and top of the order guy, seeing him take batting practice, he was hitting the ball as far as anybody on our team," Magadan said.
But Magadan said Ellsbury, like a lot of young hitters who bat near the top of the order in the minors, was too passive "almost like going up there and making sure it was a strike first before swinging instead of being a guy where I'm swinging at every pitch and my eyes will tell me whether to swing."
Once Ellsbury had the more aggressive attitude, the power came through. That's what Magadan wants to try to do with the young hitters in Texas.
Magadan's attitude and results certainly impressed general manager Jon Daniels.
When you talk to people that have been around him, worked with him, players that have played for him, you hear the same things," Daniels said. "He’s not a paint by numbers guy. He's got an individual plan for each guy. It’s within the team concept and putting ourselves in position to win a game."
The idea of working with guys individually and not trying to mold them will certainly help Magadan in the Rangers' clubhouse. It's a group with different swings, but who hit their best when their minds are right. Clint Hurdle was very good at that in 2011 and Scott Coolbaugh did the same thing for them when he was a different voice in June 2011 after communication between the players and Thad Bosley helped cause the club to make a change midseason.