The Braves’ Walker: A good coach got bad results

The former hitting coach meets with the former GM. (Jason Getz/AJC photo)

The former hitting coach meets with the former GM. (Jason Getz/AJC photo)

The former hitting coach meets with the former GM. (Jason Getz/AJC photo)

The former hitting coach is shown speaking with the former GM. (Jason Getz/AJC photo)

Nobody can say Greg Walker doesn’t know hitting. He does. Nor can anyone say he doesn’t know how to coach hitters. He has. But his resignation as the Atlanta Braves’ hitting coach — announced at 6:48 p.m. Tuesday — was confirmation of what we’d known for a while.

A good coach got bad results. Ergo, the coach had to go.

We’ll never know for sure if the Braves would have fired Walker had he not resigned, but it’s hard to imagine them retaining the chief hitting coach — Scott Fletcher is the deputy — of a team that scored fewer runs than 28 of the 29 other big-league clubs. Whatever Walker/Fletcher were doing hadn’t worked.

It wasn’t for lack of effort or expertise. Walker worked hard — most all big-league coaches do — and tried pretty much everything. But a hitting coach is judged on results. The Braves lost 83 games with a pitching staff that compiled the third-lowest ERA in the National League. (Only one of the five NL playoff qualifiers had a lower ERA.)

Speaking of postseason play: In 2005, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series with a lineup that was rightfully lauded for its measured approach. “Professional hitters,” we called those Pale Hose, one of them being Jermaine Dye, the former Brave who drove in the only run — with a two-out eighth-inning single off Brad Lidge — of the Series clincher. Walker was the hitting coach for those champions.

Maybe nobody could have done much with Dan Uggla’s whirlybird follow-through or B.J. Upton’s pronounced stance, but that, sad to say, is the point. In 2014, not much got done. (In 2013, the Braves did lead the league in home runs.) A team of big swingers became a collection of bigger missers. If it was hard for us to watch, imagine how it felt to be Greg Walker.

On a personal level, I’m sorry to see Walker go; he’s a fine fellow who made time for the media even when the media was asking questions he’d rather not have heard. On a practical level, there’s no way he could have stayed.

Reader Comments 1

46 comments
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DollyFrosttav

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RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Walker s an outstanding coach with a team full of hitters who will not listen because they think they know better-despite miserable results.

Someone will snap him up very soon, if he wants to continue to coach.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

For All  who watched a Playoff game last night. did the team who hit the home runs win ?

Does Braves management get it ?  Or do we need more softball type players ?

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well when you don't have much to work with, or no one wants to listen ...then what ?

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Lets see if the Braves REALLY are serious about getting better.




Fredi must go.

GSUMensBBFan
GSUMensBBFan

Hahaha...good coach?  What a joke.  Let's look at Walker's White Sox teams since 2005:


2011 - 2nd in the AL in Strikeouts, 8th in batting average, 11th OPS

2010 - 2nd in the AL in Strikeouts, 5th in batting average, 6th OPS

2009 - 4th in the AL in Strikeouts, 13th in batting average, 11th OPS

2008 - 8th in the AL in Strikeouts, 11th in batting average, 4th OPS

2007 - 11th in the AL in Strikeouts, 14th in batting average, 12th OPS

2006 - 9th in the AL in Strikeouts, 5th in batting average, 3rd OPS

2005 - 9th in the AL in Strikeouts, 11th in batting average, 8th OPS



 

 

 


FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

Typical. You spend a whole season defending Wren (a GM with a growing history of notably awful roster decisions) but when a guy with an actual record of successes gets scapegoated for not being able to turn fecal matter into gold, you say "I’m sorry to see Walker go; he’s a fine fellow who made time for the media even when the media was asking questions he’d rather not have heard. On a practical level, there’s no way he could have stayed."


Maybe the hitters were crap because they weren't hydrated enough. Let's force the water boy to resign! Maybe the color scheme in the locker room is subconsciously causing the hitters to be too relaxed at the plate. Let's can the decorator! Could the laundry detergent be making the hitters too soft? Off with the equipment managers head! They're nice folks and all, but better they go than have to deal with the fact that the team is stocked with uncoachably lousy hitters.


You know, like when it was Pendleton's fault that Francoeur and McClouth couldn't hit the broadside of a barn.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

The divisional "championship" streak of 14 ended in 2005.

Since then the Braves have won the NL EAST just once - in 2013, and that was by default in an already weak division.

The Braves have not been relevant in MLB for nearly a decade primarily due to John Schuerholz looting the farm system for J.D. Drew and Mark Teixeira; AND Frank Wren's budget busting acquisitions of Lowe, Kawakami, McLouth, Uggla and BJ - all colossal failures.

It will take a magician to undue a decade of  poor decisions by Braves' management.



Ficklefan
Ficklefan

The ritual slaughter of the scapegoat. And with both Walker and Wren gone, now all will be well. That is where this could go (God forbid), and we could once again be watching Fredi send BJ up to bat in the ninth inning of still winnable games after he has already struck out twice and grounded into a double play. 


That only lip service will be paid to the level of change that is necessary to turn this team around is the big concern among the non-Pollyanna fans who want this team to play up to its talent and abilities. Particularly now that the fans are investor-co-owners having agreed to provide the Braves with a brand new free stadium. 


Yes, if only Walker could have actually gone up to the plate and stood next to each Brave during their at bats and coach them and say things like "You only get three strikes, so it is not a good habit to watch the first pitch sail by no matter what, or you end up with only two strikes left before your at bat has even started." 


Or perhaps, "You need to settle in and keep your balance while at the plate. Swinging so hard (and missing, of course, with such and out of control swing) that you stumble across the plate, barely able to keep your footing will not result in any hits. 


Or perhaps, "You are behind in the count again, as usual because you watch good pitches go by and swing at crap. The pitcher (all pitchers in the NL) know this. So, mentally prepare yourself not to swing at the next pitch, which is going to bounce in the dirt in front of home plate. I know it will be hard to resist - so much harder than to resist that fast ball right down the middle of the plate - but you have to resist." 


Or perhaps, "You need to stand still and concentrate and wait for your pitch. You are not up here to demonstrate Samurai sword movement techniques with your bat while waiting for a pitch. And this is not dance class.You are not going to hit the ball if you persist in doing the left foot samba before the ball is thrown." 


And perhaps most effective. "We have men on second and third. We just need a hit to win, just a single. Wait for one you can punch over the heads of the infielders, and it is over.  You really don't need to hit it out of here.  If you try that, every pitch you get will be out of the zone, and you will, yes, strike out . . . again." 


But Walker could not do that. He had to try to get them to remember those things at the plate. But there was no reason for them to remember or to adjust. Because Walker had a boss. And whatever they did at the plate was fine with the boss.  That is where things need to change more than any where else. 

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Typical 'corporate Braves' move. Happens all the time in the corporate business world where lower level positions get fired to pay the price for incompetence by CEO's and VP's who not only keep their jobs but typically get raises. Until the head of the Braves snake- Scheurputz - is chopped off, this organization will remain the perennial postseason loser it's always been since 1996.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Last night it was good  to see two good teams playing real baseball... Braves should take notes and that was not the  "Braves  way" they were playing. Braves took the wrong two back when... Moore & Yost make Wren &  Fredi look sick and JS for his stupid decisions. 

Walker was man enough to take blame for his part in Braves death.  Something Fredi will never do or Braves management will not do. I respect Walker more than Fredi  any day of the year.

Walker is gone now so place your blame where it belongs on FREDI and Management...ajc needs to do thd same instead of kissing FG's rear.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Last night Kansas City had 15 hits (no home runs !), scored 9 runs, drove in 4 runs with 2 out, and had 7 stolen bases !

Schuerholz & Hart: TAKE NOTE !



ronaldtallon
ronaldtallon

Frank and Fredi are at fault here, along with the bums in the lineup. A lot of good coaches have failed with bad players.  

TheBigWally
TheBigWally

Didn't the "pale hose" also chase him off a few years later?

butchcat
butchcat

Can't you say the same about Fredi....  Good manager got bad results?  When a team goes into a tailspin in Sept there is NO ONE else to blame but the manager.  To his credit Fredi has just one less WS than his mentor and supporter, Bobby Cox.

thewalkingdude
thewalkingdude

Revisionist history - the Sox were in the middle, to lower end in the American league when it came to batting average, obp, slugging pct.  They hit a bunch of home runs, and the pitching was superb; that's why they won it all.  


By all accounts, Walker is a great guy, but as a hitting coach, I don't know - there are too many players that under performed during his tenure with both teams.  

NathanChapman
NathanChapman

Uninspired baseball. That's the term I've heard used by several pundits so far describing this season in Atlanta. On a young team, that falls on the coaches. No other way to shake it down. There was a clear lack of leadership, starting at the GM, to the Manager, to the coaching staff. No one was able to steer the rudder and keep the team moving forward in a push to the playoffs. I keep hearing that this is the second time this has happened under FG's tenure as manager, but let's be honest, to varying degrees, this has happened, EVERY year during his tenure. The team has not finished on a strong note (and no, that doesn't necessarily have to mean a WS victory) in any of the seasons he has managed the Braves, including the 96 win season of a year ago. I really hope that a new GM is hired from outside the organization who chooses to develop his own coaching staff, including a new manager, someone more in the younger Jim Leyland mold (Brett Butler tops my list), and takes the team in the direction that has worked for clubs in recent years in the post-PED era of baseball, i.e. situational baseball that manufactures runs when called upon. Regardless, I would like to see a manager and coaching staff who visibly react to problems that take place on the field instead of woebegone has-been's and never-was's who spend way too much time talking about what they DIDN'T do...

DWinDec1
DWinDec1

Ahh, the hitting coach. Either he can make a difference or he can't. If he can, then Greg Walker is to blame for a horrible season and he should be fired. If he can't make a difference, then what's the point of having one, so go ahead and fire him.


I realize this is being very flip about a man's career, and the Braves problems were not going to be solved in the batting cages.


In 2013 the Braves led the majors in home runs, and that was their undoing in 2014. Nobody in the whole damned lineup was interested in singles.

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

Fran Wren got Greg Walker fired, it was his poor line up construction in acquiring all these free swinging strike out prone players.

Falcons63
Falcons63

I don't think you have to be a great hitter to be a great hitting coach. 

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

If you get bad results, you're a bad coach. 


Those 2005 White Sox were 11th out of 14 AL teams in OBP and 9th out of 14 AL teams in runs scored. They won despite Walker, not because of him.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

That's like hating to fire a money manager that loses all your money! The results could not have been any worse. He has to be accountable for a major aspect of the hitting woes. Just ask Jordan Shaffer if you're not sure.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Do we really have to hear more about the loser Braves?


Guess the Falcons aren't really that much of a joy to blog about, either?

te29wr
te29wr

You can't teach someone if they will not make changes  How many times did you  see a Braves batter not try to move a runner over, or bunt for gosh sakes....most were trying to be a hero.. Someone like C Jones can make them change or be replaced.

Calel
Calel

I understand your sentiment, MB, but not even one "project" or good result to mention from any of the Braves hitters he dealt with?--not one? That's not good. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Does it really make any difference who the Braves' hitting coach is ?


These overpaid primadonnas knew how to hit before they got here. Once in a Braves' uniform something bad happens.

seminoleking
seminoleking

walker wasnt a good hitting coach. look at how he changed what they COULD do, hit homers, and tried to make them what they werent. the case study is simmons. last year, simmons provided pop at the bottom of the order. you getting that amount of production at the BOTTOM of your order was a GREAT thing. walker had to mess with simmons head and look at the results. took TWO years before SOMEONE figured out that  bj upton needed to go to a wide open stance, but too late in the game for it to matter this year. lastly, its like none of the hitters had a consistent approach because walker took away what they COULD do. put pendleton back as hitting coach and  figure out how to get the middle of the lineup to show more consistency ( bj upton wasnt the full blame for this garbage hitting crew).

DrPhill
DrPhill

Walker was trying to do the impossible with the unwilling. BJ, Justin, Uggla, Freeman. There was no discipline on this team, and that's on Fredi. If Fredi is retained, we will be posting the same comments next September. It will take someone like Piniella to get the attention of this crowd.

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

Walker knew a termination was in his near future or he wouldn't have resigned to begin with.  I might be more inclined to believe Walker was a good coach who got bad results if the exact same thing hadn't happened in Chicago right before he got here.  When he was hired by the White Sox, Walker inherited not a good, but great hitting team and by the time he left, had turned them into complete $h!+ and they were an absolute offensive nightmare much like this current Braves team is.  The 2005 WS team wasn't a great hitting team with a great approach because Walker had anything to do with their hitting.  It was more because the majority of the same players he inherited were still there and still had the same good offensive approach they had before he arrived.

Walker did the Braves a huge favor by finally stepping down.  He was a better choice than Larry Parrish, but not by much.  Maybe the front office will finally open their eyes and put a stop to hiring hitting coaches who were mediocre hitters and players during their own playing careers. 

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

If I were Fredi, unless I was guaranteed that B J Upton has played his last game in Atlanta I would take my alleged good baseball name to other pastures and resign.

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

Imagine what Luke Appling would think about that Gumby stance of B J Upton.

Cardfans
Cardfans

@GSUMensBBFan Excellent post.  I said this when they hired Walker.  Why hire someone without a track record of success?  Why not go after a guy that was top 3 in team batting average or top 3 OPS?  No, let's go after the guy that had his team top 3 in strikeouts.  Yeah that makes sense...

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@SaveAmericaFromItself Agree. It'll take a magician (or at least one who knows how to value baseball skills instead of just athleticism) and several, several years. Lots of people seem to think that this team will somehow be a lot better next season; it'll be marginally better at best. You *may* be able to see a noticeable turnaround in the organization by the time they move into the new Mall in 2017, but it likely will take longer to really fix things. And that's only if they don't hire another Wren clone who is more worried about his own headlines than the health of the organization. 

58Supersports
58Supersports

@HUDDYS1FAN  So true but he resigned...  All the trash talk on walker= I'd love to see anyone of u do any better with Uggla, BJ, CJ, etc on this team.  The Problem now is FREDI.. he needs to go.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@NajehDavenpoop  You a nut case, good players make great coaches.. You can't make chicken salad out of chicken s*it.. didn't your mom tell you that growing up. How many games have you ever coached.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I'm already waiting patiently for the Hawks - now that all the bigots and racists have been moved out of the way!

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Cardfans 

Okay, Frank. Who's in the postseason and who is not?

Working the pitch count, getting on base and running the opposition into the ground is the way to go. Think Whitey Herzog.