The Arizona Diamondbacks are reportedly set to hire Mark Grace as their new assistant hitting coach. Coming back to the Chicago Cubs right now wasn’t in the cards, and, in any case, the more I read about new Cubs hitting coach John Mallee, the more I like it. I just thought it was interesting timing. Mallee’s assistant hitting coach will be former Cubs first base coach Eric Hinske.
More on Mallee:
- How’s this? The Cubs actually hired Mallee two years ago. You didn’t know? Well, it seems that no one really did. He was the Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator for three days before the opportunity to be the hitting coach for the Astros came up, and he departed, understandably (Cubs.com). That article is a good read for more background on Mallee, who comes from Chicago.
- Patrick Mooney also has a long take on Mallee, who feels like an excellent fit for what the Cubs are hoping to accomplish (and maybe he’s finally the guy who lasts more than a year).
- From the Astros’ perspective, it sounds like they’re bummed to be losing Mallee, but they didn’t want to prevent him from taking this opportunity in his hometown.
- Bruce Levine and Mike Esposito had Mallee on their radio show this weekend on The Score, and you can listen to it here. Mallee – pronounced May-Lee – said many really spot-on things, and the one that really made me smile was this: “[E]veryone knows, ‘Hey, we got to walk more and we got to strikeout less. So, stop swinging at bad pitches.’ That’s not the answer. They’re not trying to swing at bad pitches. I think getting them to understand that with two strikes the OPS falls off the map …. There is very little damage done with two strikes for most hitters in baseball. So sacrificing power for accuracy and getting them to understand that just by putting the ball in play – when you put the ball in play with two strikes you are going to hit over .300 …. Just understanding that if you put the ball in play, good things are going to happen.”
- Mallee laid out his philosophy of selective aggression in that interview, and it is – to me – precisely what you want to see Cubs hitters doing: you attack your best, most drivable pitches (whatever those are for you) only, and take everything else (even if it’s a strike). Then, when you get to two strikes, you change the approach and just try to put the ball in play. Simply explained, and more difficult to implement (as we saw, for example, in 2013 with Starlin Castro). But that’s very much the way to do it.
- Mallee was a hot candidate back when the Cubs were trying to get him into the org two years ago. He told Levine and Esposito that, within the span of a week, he was hired by the Cubs to be their hitting coordinator, and was also offered the big league hitting coach job by both the Astros and Indians (obviously, of the three gigs, he chose the Astros).
- More from the man, himself, in video form, and heavy on the mechanics: