Can Matt Stairs Develop the Young Padre Hitters Next Season?

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The San Diego Padres have announced the signing of former Padre and long-time MLB veteran Matt Stairs as the team’s new hitting coach for next season. After recently firing Alan Zinter on September 1st of 2017, the organization quickly found another coach to lead the Padres on offense.

The team finished last in on base percentage, team batting average, and runs scored in all of Major League Baseball, putting them as one of the worst offenses in 2017. As Andy Green said after the firing of Alan Zinter nearly two months ago, “We are seeking a different voice”.

The search to fill the vacancy at hitting coach was very short, as the Padres saw the right profile in Phillies hitting coach Matt Stairs. Stairs will be coming to San Diego as a former Padre, and the big leaguer who holds the record for the most pinch-hit home runs in Major League Baseball at 23 total. Matt played in 78 games for San Diego in 2010, primarily as a left-handed bat off the bench. He had a long career in the majors, playing for 12 different franchises throughout his 19 seasons. It only took the Philadelphia Phillies one year to part ways with Stairs after he became their hitting coach in November of 2016.

Matt Stairs will become the 11th different hitting coach for the Padres since the team’s inaugural season at Petco Park in 2004. The San Diego Padres organization has been looking for a guy that can build this team into one of the more balanced hitting units in the league. Eventually, the Padres will need a hitting coach that can stay here long-term and help this offense achieve big things in the N.L. West. The Padres’ offense has struggled for a very long time, and hiring a new hitting coach could be the answer.

The hiring of Stairs will definitely bring changes to the San Diego Padres’ offense as the team looks to continue the rebuild process in 2018. I believe this was a smart move by A.J. Preller and company with the Padres’ youth and their current outlook for next season.

The San Diego Padres’ offense needs to improve in almost every offense category next year, and that won’t be any easy task. The Friars are very young at almost every position while many of their top prospects haven’t even reached the majors yet. The team is looking to get a little bit better each season as they continue to develop new prospects. Improving the Padres’ offense to compete with the best in baseball is a tough task and it’s going to take persistent hard work from these young Friar hitters.

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Matt Stairs will be looking to do that for this young and potentially dangerous San Diego offense. Stairs was known for his strong relationships with the Phillies’ hitters last season. During his time with the Phillies last year, Stairs had talks with the Philly hitters daily before games regarding their approach at the plate. He constantly made an effort to communicate with them about making improvements and adjustments at the plate. His strategies and coaching tactics bolstered the Phillies’ offense in 2017 as they significantly improved their offense from the prior season.

The Padres are going to need Stairs to do the same for their offense in 2018. He will be looking to make these young Padre hitters feel more confident and comfortable while at the plate. This is important for getting on base and reducing strikeouts. It appeared to most people that Zinter had very minimal focus on batting average and on base percentage. He was known for his focus on hitting for power, which wasn’t a good recipe for success for these young Padre hitters. Many of the young and inexperienced hitters for San Diego struggled to get on base this past year such as Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, and Austin Hedges to name a few, as this team finished last in the majors in on base percentage.

Stairs will be coaching the young Padre hitters to focus on hitting for average and drawing walks, while focusing less on the long ball. The Padres have plenty of offensive firepower on their roster with Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe in the lineup, but both players must learn to hit for a higher average with fewer strikeouts. The current Padres offense has plenty of home run hitters, and that part of their offense will come as they improve. With Stairs making the team’s new focus to get on base and score more runs, it will be exciting in 2018.

Along with that, Matt Stairs will be bringing several years of baseball experience with him in his return to San Diego. He has a World Series ring with the Phillies from 2008 and is seasoned as a pinch hitter late in the game. Again, look for him to transition the Padres’ young offensive attack to draw more walks, strikeout less, and score more runs in 2018. This approach is ideal for these young hitters as they transition their way into the major leagues.

I believe this was a smart move for the Padres moving forward and that Zinter just wasn’t the face the team needed to lead the offense during the rebuild. Even if Stairs only sticks around in San Diego for just one season, his presence and leadership on the team should bring tremendous improvements for the Padres’ offense next year. Ownership took minimal time finding a new hitting coach this fall as they envision Stairs as the new voice that was needed on this team.

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