The Pittsburgh Pirates are trending toward another top Draft pick for the season year in a row. Someone had to answer for it.
Rick Eckstein was hired as the Pittsburgh Pirates hitting coach during the 2018-2019 offseason. The previous regime hired Eckstein, but he was one of the only key members of the coaching staff to remain with the team after the 2019 overhaul. It was a bit of a surprise, but he also only had one year of work to go on. Also, he was considered to be an up-and-coming hitting coach who stressed some of the newer parts that are more focused on for hitting.
Eckstein did not find a lot of success with developing the Pittsburgh Pirates hitters. Individually the team has seen Kevin Newman, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and even Gregory Polanco regress substantially. Hayes was the early favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year, and after an early-season injury, he has not found that stroke we saw when first coming up. The same can be said for Newman, who has really struggled the last two seasons and it’s been mainly because he hasn’t been lifting the ball.
The same can be said for Ke’Bryan Hayes, who historically is a groundball hitter, but hitting, even more, this year. So obviously Eckstein was not making progress with some of their younger hitters. But even veterans like Gregory Polanco regressed even more last few years. Also, Hoy Park, who was a young player and came here and immediately hit looked like a completely different player within a week.
All this has led the Pittsburgh Pirates to have the worst OPS in Baseball, the least amount of home runs, and a bottom-five ranking in batting average. Things were not expected to be good, but at the same time, fans thought they would see some of these players take steps forward. Instead, the offense took another step back and someone has to answer for that. In this case, the Pittsburgh Pirates fired their hitting coach Rick Eckstein
"The Pirates announced Monday that they’ve fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein. An interim replacement was not named, though assistant hitting coach Christian Marrero is remaining with the club."
The club has not and apparently will not replace Eckstein this season. They will instead continue on with the position vacant. Along with Marrero, Derek Shelton could take on more of the hitting responsibilities being a former hitting coach himself. After all, if things do not start to move in the right direction Shelton himself will be on the Hot Seat. So this could give him a chance to have a more hands-on approach down the stretch.