Dodgers Unveil Hitting Department
There is an imbalance in baseball. For the first time in major league history, there were more strikeouts than hits in 2018.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman wants to do something about this.
"Since I can remember, being around the advance (scouting) process in the major leagues and player development at the major league level, the advancements on the run-prevention side have dwarfed what has gone on on the run-scoring side," he said.
"But I do think there's an opportunity—we're setting records for strikeouts as an industry. Let's think about this differently. Let's ask different questions. Let's be open-minded to ways we can possibly combat that."
The Dodgers' open-minded approach to fighting the imbalance between will feature a new hitting department, led by a coach who never played the game professionally. Robert Van Scoyoc was hired this winter as the Dodgers' new hitting coach with Brant Brown moved to a hitting strategist role and Aaron Bates added as assistant hitting coach.
Bates will split his time working with major league and minor league players, "helping with that transition and continuity and not having kind of bifurcated plans—where guys come up through the minor league system, get to the major leagues and it's a completely different language and process."
"I think we're still scratching the surface of what we want to try and do and how we want to approach the hitting department," Friedman said.
The 32-year-old Van Scoyoc was a bold choice, putting him in the dugout on a daily basis for the first time in a career that included working as a hitting instructor alongside Craig Wallenbrock and then as hitting strategist for the Diamondbacks.
Van Scoyoc and Wallenbrock were credited with helping J.D. Martinez and Chris Taylor (most prominently) make the swing changes that changed their careers. The lack of a pro career on his résumé is not something Van Scoyoc sees as a hindrance.
"At the end of the day, players want to be good and they don’t care if you had a playing career,” Van Scoyoc said. “All they care about is if you can help them be better.”
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— The Dodgers signed outfielder Shane Peterson to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp. The 30-year-old lefthanded hitter has hit .254/.319/.359 in parts of three big league seasons with the Athletics, Brewers and Rays. He spent the 2018 season with the Padres' Triple-A El Paso affiliate.