Most of the Tigers’ coaching staff will return in 2017, but one noticeable departure is that of hitting coach Wally Joyner. The team announced on Saturday that he is interested in pursuing other avenues in baseball, so the club will need to find a new coach to replace him.
Those returning to the team next year are bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer, third base coach Dave Clark, pitching coach Rich Dubee, bench coach Gene Lamont, defensive coordinator Matt Martin, and first base coach Omar Vizquel.
Joyner was hired to replace Lloyd McClendon on Nov. 18, 2013, and he served as the Tigers’ hitting coach for the last three seasons. With his departure, assistant hitting coach David Newhan’s future is in the air.
The team will hire a new hitting coach before they make a determination with Newhan.
In his three years as the Tigers’ hitting coach, Joyner coached a team loaded with sluggers, primarily that of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Yoenis Cespedes. He also led J.D. Martinez through rough spots as the once-struggling outfielder adjusted to a reconstructed swing and approach at the plate.
The Tigers being the heavy hitting lineup that they are, relied primarily on their ability to make hard contact rather than speed on the basepaths. Still, Joyner had to strike a balance between them and players like Andrew Romine, Jose Iglesias, and Don Kelly.
Additionally, between the injuries and poor stretches of play, Joyner also worked with the plethora of minor leaguers who entered and left the roster in short spurts. Even with the ups and downs, the Tigers held a 107 wRC+ in those three years, second-best in Major League Baseball.
Only the Blue Jays are higher in that time, with a 109 wRC+. The Tigers’ team wOBA of .328 is third in all of baseball behind only the Blue Jays and Rockies, both tied for first at .332.
With Joyner at the helm of the hitting coach position, Detroit’s .157 ISO is tied with the Cubs for No. 5 in MLB. As a team, the offense ranks in the bottom 10 for strikeout percentage in baseball, at 20 percent. The Royals ranked best, at a 17.5 percentage. If there was a downside to the offense, it was that they were unpredictable this year more than in the past.
The Tigers now need to replace Joyner and the guidance he provided the team during his time in Detroit. As for the remainder of the staff, the biggest name to stick around is Dubee, who has worked wonders on the pitching staff in his first season with the team.