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Joe Maddon disgusted with today's all-or-nothing approach to hitting: 'There are too many holes'

Chicago Tribune — By Mark Gonzales Chicago Tribune

Aug. 13-- PHILADELPHIA-Cubs manager Joe Maddon gave two Philadelphia writers an appetizer when they asked about hitting coach John Mallee, who was fired Tuesday by the Phillies less than two seasons after the Cubs released him.

"Every hitting coach I've known in the recent past was dedicated, hard-working, cares about his players more than he cares about himself," Maddon said. "A lot of times you have a good sense of humor, which I think is important.

"I love John Mallee, and I think he's an outstanding hitting coach. That's all."

Despite Mallee's popularity with Cubs hitters and the fact the team won the 2016 World Series in his second season, he was dismissed after the 2017 season. The Cubs dumped Mallee, a proponent of launch angle, and hired Chili Davis to emphasize situational hitting.

According to multiple sources, several players immediately tuned out Davis and opted for their personal approach, going that route even as the offense deteriorated in the second half.

The topic of hitting is personal to Maddon, a former minor league hitting instructor who has been more hands-on this season at the request of his bosses.

So when a Philadelphia reporter asked whether there are now too many hitting philosophies, resulting in confused batters, Maddon provided plenty of meat to chew on.

"Just to go Twitter and search 'hitting guru,' " Maddon said. "And find out all these different people making money these days. They're making it too complicated, and it's really sad. I grew up as a hitting coach, and I taught hitting a certain way. And I still think it's germane to the way you should hit today.

"It's really being morphed into an area that's non-sustainable. There are too many holes in the methods that are being profligated right now. It just doesn't work that way."

For the record, Maddon endorsed Cubs first-year hitting coach Anthony Iapoce and assistant Terrmel Sledge. But Maddon expressed his displeasure at some of the trends being taught elsewhere at a price.

"I've seen some of the videos that they're selling online, that parents are paying for," Maddon said. "Wow. They're just promoting the strikeout. That's all they're doing."

The Cubs entered play Tuesday night with 186 home runs-within reach of their franchise record 235 homers in 2014. But Maddon had an interesting prediction in the midst of this home-run-crazed season.

"Once the ball is deadened again, you're going to see a dramatic decline in home runs," Maddon said. "Just based on equipment change. And what you're seeing right now is very hard for hitters."

Maddon said he is baffled when he sees batters who have only twice as many RBIs as homers.

"All that (tells) me is that they don't know how to drive in runs with a single," Maddon said. "It's an all-or-nothing approach. And that's being advocated."

That all-or-nothing approach has major league hitters on pace to shatter the single-season home run record while setting a strikeouts record for the 12th straight year.

Meanwhile, Mallee's firing was felt deeply by slugger Kris Bryant, who FaceTimed his former hitting coach one day before he was fired.

"He really stood out to me, how much he cared for you as a player," Bryant said. "As a person, he just wanted everyone to succeed. I'll always remember him as one of my favorite coaches of all time.

"I just think he had a very good way of bringing the best out of you. When you're not feeling good, he knew exactly what to tell you right back, locked in, even if you looked like crap, He would always tell you 'you're right there. Your swings are good.' He just knew what each guy needed as a player, and that's a great quality as a coach. When a coach can figure out what you need as a player, whether it's to be pushed or coddled. He was that kind of guy. And I appreciate that about him."

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