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Phil Plantier is a hitting coach? Really?

Oct 31, 2011, 1:17 PM EDT

Phil Plantier

In case you missed it, the Padres announced over the weekend that they had hired Phil Plantier as their new hitting coach, replacing Randy Ready. It was a pretty meteoric rise for a guy who was coaching at Point Loma Nazarene University three years ago. Plantier was the Mariners’ minor league hitting coordinator in 2010 and the hitting coach for high-A Lake Elsinore in the Padres’ chain to start the 2011 season.

But while that’s interesting enough, the more notable fact is that the Padres are hiring Phil Plantier as their hitting coach. This is a guy who competed with catchers to see who could squat lower when he was at the plate. It’s like he was sitting on an imaginary chair two feet off the ground.

Plantier was my favorite player in the early-90s. When he burst onto the scene with the Red Sox in 1991, the New Hampshire native created a minor sensation in New England. Living in Maine at the time, I met him and got his autograph at a card show. I had a Plantier t-shirt that I adored.

(Even today, Plantier’s page in the Rotoworld database is my Internet Explorer home page. I wanted a player page that was completely empty, making it quicker to load, and since Plantier has been out of baseball since 1998, it doesn’t get any emptier than that. I have no idea why he wasn’t purged from the database a decade ago.)

Plantier was also really, really good, if only for a brief spell. As a 22-year-old rookie, Plantier hit .331/.420/.615 with 11 homers in 53 games in 1991. That was before the offensive explosion that followed, and Plantier’s slugging percentage and OPS would have led the AL at those rates.

Plantier, though, had a rough go of it in 1992, hitting .246/.332/.361 with seven homers in 349 at-bats. The Red Sox opted to trade him to the Padres for middle reliever Jose Melendez after that season. It was probably the first baseball trade that I absolutely loathed. Melendez proved completely worthless to Boston, getting hurt and throwing just 19 innings in two seasons before his career came to an end.

Meanwhile, Plantier busted out in San Diego, hitting .240/.335/.509 with 34 homers and 100 RBI in 138 games. He finished seventh in the NL in homers and ninth in RBI.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much it for him. Injuries limited Plantier to 96 games the next season, and he hit just .220/.302/.440. He became a journeyman afterwards, playing for Houston, Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis again. Something of a “Moneyball player” before Moneyball, he ended his career with a .243/.332/.439 line and 91 homers in 1,883 at-bats. But Plantier was more a victim of injuries than of managers not appreciating him because of his low average.

Now the guy with the funky stance who struggled to hit better than .250 is going to try to teach others to hit. And I’m finding myself rooting for him again.

  1. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    It’s becoming more and more bizarre that so many guys I watched play are now coaching.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:35 PM

      I love baseball for stuff like this.

      I was planning a vacation to Charleston (SC) and saw that Buddy Biancalana was coaching the Single A club there. I was beside myself with joy, and I’m not even a Royals fan.

      That my then-girlfriend (now wife) didn’t walk out right then and there was reason enough to propose. I don’t know why I waited so long to propose.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:35 PM

      I love baseball for stuff like this.

      I was planning a vacation to Charleston (SC) and saw that Buddy Biancalana was coaching the Single A club there. I was beside myself with joy, and I’m not even a Royals fan.

      That my then-girlfriend (now wife) didn’t walk out right then and there was reason enough to propose. I don’t know why I waited so long.

    • cjpo3 - Aug 11, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Anyone who laughs at Phil Plantier as a batting coach needs to talk to poor Jim D’Orazio. D’Orazio was a pitcher who spent most of his time in the minor leagues, but played in the majors very briefly for the Angels when Phil was with the Red Sox, and for the Brewers when Phil was with the Padres. In three games (two with the Angels, one with the Brewers), D’Orazio gave up eight hits to Phil in all eight times he faced him: two singles, two doubles, two single home runs, a two run homer, and a grand slam! On all three occasions did Phil make D’Orazio the losing pitcher, and for the two occasions that D’Orazio was sent back to the minors, it was immediately after the games in which Phil cleaned his clock. Years later, D’Orazio admitted in an interview: “He (Phil) just had my number”, and went so far to say that “he (Phil) pretty much killed my career, though I can’t blame anybody but myself.” I really do not think any player has completely dominated another player in baseball like that, as Phil Plantier did to the unfortunate Jim D’Orazio.

  2. burnsy - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    Will this possibly raise the value of his 19 rookie cards I own?

  3. StottsEra - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    i remember trading back and forth his rookie card about 14 times

  4. educatedfools - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Plantier was my favorite player growing up too. I wrote a post on his career earlier this year: http://sexybostonsports.blogspot.com/2011/04/back-to-future-with-phil-plantier.html

  5. havlicekstoletheball - Oct 31, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    If Bob McAdoo can be an assistant coach in the NBA, then Plantier can be a major league hitting coach.

    Plantier did have a sweet swing, and he exploded into the ball. Unfortunately, all too often he exploded above or below the ball, and his sweet swing didn’t prevent it from reaching the catcher.

    Makes you wonder, though, whether we will see Jose Offerman (Awfulman) as a fielding coach, or teaching an anger management seminar with Carl Everett.

    • philliesblow - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:16 PM

      or CC Sabathia as conditioning coach

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 31, 2011 at 8:13 PM

      I thought it was big Z who was doing the anger management gig?

  6. gregwanson - Oct 31, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    You use Internet exporer??

  7. icanspeel - Oct 31, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Padres are also going with 2 hitting coaches this year.. not sure having 10 hitting coaches would help the current Padres team hit.

  8. mgflolox - Oct 31, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Look out MLB, “The Crapper” is back!!!

  9. rwjk - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    i saw the picture and the headline for this article and i lol’ed all over myself

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