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Cubs hire Rob Deer as assistant hitting coach

Nov 26, 2012, 1:50 PM EDT


Chicago is the latest team to join the trend of multiple hitting coaches, as the Cubs have hired Rob Deer to assist primary hitting coach James Rowson. Deer has been a hitting instructor in the Padres’ farm system and was teammates with Cubs manager Dale Sveum on the Brewers.

News of hitting and pitching coaches being hired is inevitably met with jokes about how that person wasn’t very good as a player and Deer is an easy target for that type of thinking (if you don’t believe me, just search his name on Twitter). He hit .220 during an 11-year career, led the league in strikeouts four times, and was the poster boy for all-or-nothing hitters in the 1980s.

Of course, those jokes conveniently ignore the fact that a) very few Hall of Fame-caliber players go into coaching when they retire, and b) most of the best, longest-tenured coaches across baseball had underwhelming playing careers.

In other words, the fact that Rob Deer hit .220 and struck out a ton means next to nothing about his coaching ability. If anything, Deer’s playing career was longer and better than the majority of hitting and pitching coaches. He smacked 230 homers and posted a .766 OPS that was solidly above average.

  1. proudlycanadian - Nov 26, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Dear is also familiar with being in the headlights.

    • historiophiliac - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      See previous story about the Nolan Ryan cookbook.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      OOPS: Deer

  2. temporarilyexiled - Nov 26, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Dave Kingman next?

    • shynessismyelguapo - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:03 PM

      There is one key differece: Kingman couldn’t draw a walk to save his life.

      Deer hit 16 points lower over the course of his career, yet posted an OBP 24 points higher.

      Kingman posted an OBP below .300 a whopping 6 times, culminating in his bizarre final season, in which he hit 35 home runs and posted an OPS *below* .700.

      • genericcommenter - Nov 26, 2012 at 4:29 PM

        You are commenting on a site on which commenters regularly call someone with a .288 OBP a “guy who gets on base” and guys who hit hit 20-30 HRs with OBPs in the .360s and up “guys who only hit home runs and strike out all the time.”

        That said, good luck getting through to them.

    • contraryguy - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      Kingman never went into coaching that I can recall. Pete Incaviglia, maybe?

  3. pinkfloydprism - Nov 26, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    I never agreed with it, but I guess it fits here… those who can’t, teach.

    • historiophiliac - Nov 26, 2012 at 1:59 PM


  4. bobulated - Nov 26, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    “Swing as hard as you can, either hitting homer (rarely) or striking out (mostly)” coach was too long to put in the press release.

  5. historiophiliac - Nov 26, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Hey, those who can’t, teach — right?

    • 18thstreet - Nov 26, 2012 at 3:45 PM

      The people who like to say this — do any of you know any teachers? I mean, any at all? My daughter’s in kindergarten right now, and I adore her teacher. My mom was a teacher. My aunt was a teacher.

      I have no idea who came up with this slogan, but it’s a huge insult. It’s also not true.

      • sparty0n - Nov 26, 2012 at 4:52 PM

        I don’t think that comment is derived from elementary teachers. I think it is directed more at the college level….. which now that I think about it, is pretty accurate.

    • historiophiliac - Nov 26, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      I was just being a smart ass. I teach as well. (not kindergarten, thank god)

      • cur68 - Nov 26, 2012 at 7:58 PM

        Teach kindergarten do you? Well, you must feel right at home around here some days then.

      • historiophiliac - Nov 26, 2012 at 8:34 PM


    • philliesblow - Nov 26, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      And those who can’t teach, administrate.

  6. DJ MC - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    I agree with you completely, Aaron, about judging the quality of a coaching hire. Rob Deer was one of my favorite players as a kid when I was getting into the sport (he struck out a lot, just like me!).

    I still have to say it, though: Rob Deer as a hitting coach? Seriously? Him? Isn’t that like hiring Anthony Young as your pitching coach or Ron Gant as your third-base coach?

  7. pearsonw - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    The jokes also ignore the fact that batting average is a fairly terrible way to measure a hitter, especially a big slugger, that Rob Deer walked in nearly 13% of his career plate appearances, and had an OBP over 100 points higher than his career batting average and hit a lot of home runs, and that thanks to those walks and home runs, was an above-average hitter for his career (110 wRC+) despite all the Ks and low average. Seems odd to call a 12-year major league career in which a guy was an above-average hitter “underwhelming.”

  8. shynessismyelguapo - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Deer wasn’t actually a horrible player. He had power, could draw some walks…

    His career OPS+ was higher than that of Miguel Tejada, Adam Jones, Carl Crawford, Jose Reyes…Granted, those guys have other things they bring to the table, but they are generally regarded as pretty good hitters throughout the course of their career.

    He was no great shakes, but he was an above average hitter for much of his career and is not nearly as awful as the comments on here make him seem to be.

    Oh, and his 109 OPS+ is much higher than that of Milt Thompson, who served as the hitting coach for the best offensive team in baseball.

    • shynessismyelguapo - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      Oh, and his OPS+ is ahead of….

      ….wait for it….

      Michael Young.

      So, next time your friend says he should be MVP, just remind him that he’s a worse hitter than Rob Deer.

  9. Gordon - Nov 26, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    He’ll be the James Lipton of hitting.

  10. losangelesfan - Nov 26, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Deer? Hitting instructor? Who’s next? Steve Trachsel as pitching coach?

    • shynessismyelguapo - Nov 26, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      Astute point. What would a guy who started 417 games at the big league level know about pitching?

      • losangelesfan - Nov 26, 2012 at 5:27 PM

        Trachsel stunk. The ’99 Cubs gave up the most runs in team history for a single season. He went 8-18 with an ERA over 5.5 But, I guess if you think Deer is the best choice for hitting coach, why not make Trachsel pitching coach? They’re both awful.

      • shynessismyelguapo - Nov 27, 2012 at 9:31 AM

        Hey, LA Angels fan…would you concider Dave Duncan a good pitching coach?
        I mean, he’s so highly regarded that some major news outlets (NY Post, ESPN) have written that he should be in the Hall of Fame.

        …and he pitched zero innings in his career. He was such an awful pitcher that he was a catcher!

        Also consider Leo Mazzone, another well regarded pitching coach who never made it to the majors.

  11. uwsptke - Nov 26, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Hopefully they sign Russell Branyan as a pet project for Deer. That would be all sorts of awesome. Both are true disciples of the Three True Outcomes (3TO) – Walk, Strikeout or Homerun.

  12. cowboysoldiertx - Nov 26, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    I have coached youth sports for 5 years, and across basketball, soccer and football teams have only ever lost twice! In baseball over 3 years my teams won 12 games combined. I was always way better growing up at baseball than the other sports. But I can teach the other sports better than I played. Get what i am saying?

  13. coryfor3 - Nov 26, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    Yeah- as a Cubs fan I want Rob Deer’s philosophy on hitting used. Knock it out of the park or go sit down. I guess Adam Dunn isn’t available yet.

  14. willclarkgameface - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    I love this. It’s as if the Cubs had a hard time hitting .220 on their own. Go Cubbies!

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