In a move to bolster the Los Angeles Dodgers' underachieving bats, the team today named Mark McGwire as their hitting coach.
“Mark has been able to translate his success as a big league hitter into his work as hitting coach with the Cardinals,” GM Ned Colletti said. “He earned the respect of both veterans and young players while in St. Louis and the offensive numbers the Cardinals produced under his tutelage speak for themselves. We’re excited to have him join our coaching staff and anticipate great things from his work with our hitters in 2013 and beyond.”
Under McGwire's watch the past three years, St. Louis led the NL in batting average (.269) and on-base percentage (.337), ranked second in runs (2,263), fourth in slugging percentage (.416), and third in OPS (.753). The Cardinals also batted a National League-best .274 with runners in scoring position.
McGwire is from the school of thought that prefers to focus less on physical mechanics and swing-tweaking, and more on developing hitters' mental approach at the plate. His philosophy clearly made a difference in the Cardinals’ 2011 championship season, as St. Louis batters struck out a National League-low 978 times.
More importantly, McGwire has a good track record with developing talent, as David Freese (2012 All-Star, 2011 NLCS and World Series MVP), Allen Craig (6th in the NL with a .307 average), Matt Carpenter (.294), and Yadier Molina all blossomed under his watch.
Of course, the elephant in the room with McGwire is his steroid use during his playing days. In 1998, he lied and cheated his way to a 70-home run season, eclipsing Roger Maris' longstanding mark and establishing a new single-season home run record.
Since those glory days, McGwire has fallen and then risen from the ashes. First came his admission of performance-enhancing drug use. The confession was no small step for McGwire, as it not only ruined his reputation, but also likely will keep him out of Cooperstown.
Next came his road to redemption, as McGwire returned to baseball as a hitting instructor, contributing to the Cardinals title run.
The move to LA is a move full circle for McGwire. A native of Pomona, California, McGwire is a local boy who starred as an All-American at USC.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services