jacoby

* Two hitting gurus: former Philadelphia Phillies Charlie Manuel sgares a laugh with Cincinnati Reds hitting instructor Brook Jacoby, hired by the Blue Jays as next year’s hitting instructor, the Jays fourth in the past four seasons. …  

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Letters of Intent

By Andrew Hendriks
The Toronto Blue Jays named Chad Mottola as their new hitting coach on Nov. 27, 2012, effectively replacing Dwyane Murphy who had held the position since Gene Tenace decided to call it a career following the 2009 season.

Under Murphy’s tutelage, the team employed a “grip it and rip it” mentality, sacrificing batting average for raw power in an attempt to out slug their opponents.

In his second season as the Blue Jays bat boss, Murphy’s sluggers led the majors in cumulative team home runs, mashing a club record 257 big flies while becoming the first team in MLB history to have 20 big flies from each defensive position (including designated hitter).

Despite the offensive fireworks, Toronto was only able to notch 85 wins, finishing the regular season 11 games back of the front running Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.

Unable to capture the same “Murphy Magic” that lead to a historic season in 2010, Toronto opted to replace their hitting coach with Mottola, who preached an up-the-middle attack, encouraging his batters to use the whole field rather than attempting to turn on the majority of pitches seen over the plate.

Despite leading the 2013 corps to a stronger overall finish with regards to team batting average and on-base percentage, Mottola was unceremoniously relieved of his duties following his first and only season as a MLB coach.

In order to fill the void, the Blue Jays enlisted the services of former Kansas City hitting instructor, Kevin Seitzer, who had worked with Blue Jays Manager, John Gibbons during his time as bench coach of the Royals between 2008-11.

Like Mottola, Seitzer too helped make significant improvement’s to the clubs overall line, as the Jays’ finished the season with a respectable .259/.323/.414 line as a team while dropping their overall strikeout totals in the process. But in similar fashion to his predecessor, Seitzer also left the organization, opting to join the Braves staff following his one and only year in Toronto.

If you’re doing the math, that’s three hitting instructors in as many years … Not the best ratio for a team trying to establish a sense of consistency both with it’s coaching staff and club philosophy.

Amidst the Russell Martin-mania that was sweeping the internet Monday afternoon, the Jays named Brook Jacoby as the clubs new Hitting Coach for the 2015 season.

Jacoby, a former MLB infielder who spent the majority of his career with the Cleveland Indians, has been coaching in professional baseball for parts of the past 14 seasons, most recently appearing as a Minor League Assistant Hitting Coordinator for the Texas Rangers in 2014.

From 2007-13, the two time All-Star called Cincinnati home, serving as the Reds hitting Coach while working closely with such stars as Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto, 2010′s National League MVP and native of Etobicoke, On.

The signing also reunites Edwin Encarnacion with his second hitting instructor, as the Blue Jays slugging first baseman/DH worked with Jacoby (prior to his trade to Toronto) from 2007-09, establishing himself as a feared hitter after posting his first 25+ home run season with the Reds in 2008 … Not to mention Juan Francisco (2009-11) and Dioner Navarro (2012).

Posting a career .270 batting average in his own right, Jacoby helped guide Reds hitters to a collective slash line of .256/.326/.412 over his seven seasons as Cincinnati’s batting guru, including a pair of playoff runs in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

Jacoby, who looks to be the first multi-year Blue Jays hitting coach since Murphy’s tenure came to an end in 2011, said in a conference Monday afternoon, that he would not employ a blanket philosophy. Deciding instead to work on each hitters individual strength’s while, like Mottola, focusing on taking the ball back up the middle with an emphasis on situational hitting.
-Follow Andrew Hendriks on Twitter (@77hendriks)

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