The Chicago Cubs’ new hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo, was the biggest addition the Cubs made all offseason. That’s according to the guy who was supposed to be the biggest addition the Cubs made all offseason, Marlon Byrd.

“I don’t know if you understand the magnitude of what he can do with hitters,” Marlon Byrd said of Jaramillo. “He’s unbelievable.”

Jaramillo leaves the Texas Rangers after 15 seasons there, the longest tenure with one team of any Major League hitting coach. His hitters have won 17 Silver Slugger Awards, three home run titles, three RBI championships and a batting title.

“He’s a great teacher,” said Byrd, who followed Jaramillo to the Cubs from Texas, signing a three-year deal. “He didn’t play in the big leagues or have a long career in baseball, but over time, he’s become a big league hitting coach, and that’s a big thing, being able to teach and see the swing and teach hitters their own swings.”

Byrd has benefited from the partnership. Last season, he batted .283 and set career highs in doubles (43), home runs (20), RBIs (98) and slugging percentage (.479). In four seasons with Philadelphia, Byrd batted .271 and hit 13 homers. In three years in Texas with Jaramillo, Byrd hit .295 with 40 homers.

“He can teach you how to hit big league pitching,” Byrd said. “A lot of guys can’t do that. There are some big league hitting coaches who understood what they did at the plate, but it’s understanding every single position player and even the pitchers, trying to help them. Your guys are out there getting four, five at-bats a day, and it’s getting those guys right [that’s important], and that’s what he does best.”

Jaramillo certainly has a capable crop of hitters to work with, even if they were down last year. He has never been a guy to preach patience at the plate, however, which has been many fans’ primary concern with the Cubs’ offense ever since Dusty Baker ushered in his “you don’t walk across the plate, you hit across the plate” philosophy. Lou Piniella, for his part, has done little to eschew that approach.

  • Scarey

    “Lou Piniella, for his part, has done little to eschew that approach.”

    Come on now Ace:

    Baker managed Cubs OBP by year:
    2003- .323
    2004- .328
    2005- .324
    2006- ..319
    Avg yearly OBP: .324
    Piniella managed Cubs OBP by year:
    2007- .333
    2008- .354
    2009- .332
    Avg yearly OBP: .340

    For reference, last year the best national league team in terms of OBP was the Dodgers at .346 and the worst was the Giants at .309. I think Lou has done a good job of increasing the on base philosophy of this team.

    • Ace

      Comparing the two directly, you’re right, is unfair. But it’s not as though Lou has made OBP a priority – he absolutely has not, outside of the one season where the hitting coach made it a priority (and the Cubs had a top offense). Those OBP numbers are more of a reflection of the players on the roster than the directives of the coaches. Disagree?