If Braves’ Pendleton got blame before, he better get credit now

Terry Pendleton is going to get blame when things go south, he needs to get some credit now that things are going well.

Terry Pendleton deserves some credit for the Braves turning into one of the better hitting clubs in the National League. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

So does this mean Terry Pendleton isn’t so bad?

(Sarcasm.)

After going 6-5 on what could have been a crushing 11-game road trip, the Braves are 14-5 since a 6-4 loss to Florida – Kenshin Kawakami shockingly was the losing pitcher – and 29-13 (.690) since a nine-game losing streak.

Nobody figured they were that bad at 8-14. Some probably wonder if they’re really this good at 10 games over .500 in mid-June.

But I just wanted to bring something to your attention. Despite still getting little production from their expected primary run producers – Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Yunel Escobar – the Braves have been climbing in National League statistical categories.

They rank No. 1 in walks (.295), No. 1 in on-base percentage (.352), No. 2 in doubles (124), No. 2 in runs (.327), No. 4 in batting with runners in scoring position (.277), No. 5 in total hits (.565) and No. 6 in batting average (.262). All in all, that’s pretty good for a lineup most of us wanted to blow up in April.

Which leads me back to Pendleton.

During this 14-5 stretch, the Braves are scoring 5.58 runs per game. That’s a full run more than the previous 45 (4.58).

Hitting and pitching coaches get way too much credit and blame. Pendleton wasn’t the reason Jeff Francoeur nose-dived in Atlanta. Similarlly, Pendleton is not the reason Martin Prado has turned into a .332 hitter. Coaches can help only so much in terms of pointing out flaws and making suggestions. Players either adjust or they don’t.

When Leo Mazzone left the Braves for Baltimore, it was comical the way some fans believed the Braves were suddenly going down like Pompeii, as if Mazzone created the greatness that was Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

What happened when Mazzone went to the pitching-poor Orioles? Suddenly, he stunk. All those people who whined when he left the Braves suddenly went mute.

Funny. The same thing is now happening with Pendleton’s critics. We’ve gone from screams to crickets.

If Pendleton is going to get the blame for Nate McLouth, he needs to get some credit for Troy Glaus, Eric Hinske and Omar Infante.

Can’t have it both ways, folks.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

Instant re-blog

Larry Drew’s first issue: What to do with Joe Johnson?

How’s this scenario: Mike Woodson as LeBron’s next coach?

Larry Drew may not excite you but he could just work out

Academics? Right. College administrators are selling out

181 comments Add your comment

kappellmeister

June 14th, 2010
10:44 am

THANK YOU, Jeff. This was a long time coming! Now if everyone will just lay off Chipper…

mountain_jim

June 14th, 2010
10:51 am

But don’t give him Bobby’s job after this season.

Dr. Phil

June 14th, 2010
10:52 am

At least Mazzone was fun to watch in the dugout. I don’t know about Pendleton. I think that he is average at best, but certainly a better batting coach than Larry Jones.

Dumbo

June 14th, 2010
10:53 am

All right…..I apologize Pendleton isn’t as bad as I wrote…but he’s dang close, look what he’s done to Kamikaze just trying to teach him how to bunt…..Bonsai!

Ted M

June 14th, 2010
10:56 am

Heyward current slump is all Pendleton’s fault. I’m kidding, but it was so bad earlier that even if it wasn’t Pendleton’s fault sometimes a fresh voice helps. It happens all the time in sports, that’s just life in MLB.

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

June 14th, 2010
10:56 am

Jeff, I’m going to disagree with you. The batters that are carrying the Braves are either veterans (Glaus, Hinske) or too new to have been messed up by Pendleton yet (Heyward). You noted that the long time Braves are all struggling (Jones, McCann, Escobar) and Pendleton hasn’t been able to do anything to fix them so far. While I have nothing against Pendleton, it has been apparent for awhile that he is not a good hitting coach and I really hope he doesn’t become manager after Bobby retires.

All I'm Saying...

June 14th, 2010
11:02 am

Totally agree with you, Schultz, and thanks for writing this blog post.

All last year, I kept reading on this blog how Chipper had his dad as his hitting coach, that Kelly Johnson was getting no help from TP, that Francoeur’s problems were due to Pendleton, that Francoeur and Andruw Jones before him always sought out someone else to fix their swings, etc. blah-blah-blah which collectively meant that TP was a lousy hitting coach.

Then, suddenly last year, when Prado was finally awarded the job, Francoeur was traded, and LaRoche supplanted Crotchety Kotchman and the Braves started hitting like nobody’s business, no one wanted to give TP any credit.

Earlier this season, it was the same old song and dance in that it was all TP’s fault and he needed to be let go.

Get with the program people, a hitting coach can give tips but it is up the player to listen and to use them. Franceour is not a student of the game and hits like a football player: swing hard at whatever’s moving in case you make contact. Prado is a student of the game, knows what it means to be selective and take pitches during an at bat, and is confident that he can still get a hit even with two strikes. That habit has spread and that’s why our guys are doing so well as a team.

And as long as TP is paying attention when our guys are at the plate, helps our hitters to scout pitchers, makes sure they are videotaped when in a hot streak so they can take a look at themselves when their bats inevitably go cold, and helps our guys keep their confidence up (because you are going to fail at the plate in baseball and failing 7 times out of 10 will still get you into the Hall of Fame), then TP is doing his job and that’s all anyone can ask.

LET’S GO BRAVES!

PiersonBrave

June 14th, 2010
11:10 am

kappellmeister & mountain_jim : co-sign those points. Go Braves.

PMC

June 14th, 2010
11:10 am

I said before, I’m not sure how much difference a hitting coach makes overall for a team. I’m still not sure.

I know he’s probably the guy who makes suggestions and shows them tape but the problem with the Braves hitters the last several years was philosophy and patience. This year they are much more diciplined… but that credit mostly goes to Frank Wren for getting rid of the free swingers.

So in conclusion. I still don’t know what TP does… but if it’s working man Keep it up!

P-Man

June 14th, 2010
11:13 am

Great blog! Too many people look for something to complain about. Let’s just enjoy the game, win or lose! Do I want to win every game? Sure! But if we did, what’s the fun in that? If you have to win every game, challenge a 4-year-old to a video game!

Hank

June 14th, 2010
11:16 am

Dumbo says KK can’t bunt because of Pendelton well maybe but, he has made a hell of a bunter out of Ross. The best bunter is our backup catcher. Wow. Maybe he should get more PT and McCan’t should stop hanging out with Chipper. McClOUT is absolutely pitiful. Can Hudson play Center when he ain’t pitching?

Pendelton was an excellent hitter who hit the ball where it was pitched. Take note Chipper, McCan’t, McClOUT. Prado seems to be an apt pupil who likes having his bags loaded for him.

Blame the hitter for 99.999 percent of their failures and the Coach for what is left.

Mike Jay

June 14th, 2010
11:19 am

Wren hater….

Chipper is old, Mcann is having eye issues again and Escobar is a basket case. Please explain what those have to do with a batting coach?

Dumbo

June 14th, 2010
11:21 am

Hank….I may not be all that fond of Pendleton (still recall his little league meltdown about ptchers not throwing at batters)…but as for Mcant, McOut & Slipper; even he couldn’t screw them up much more that they already are.

Shaun

June 14th, 2010
11:27 am

Since the start of the 2002 season (when Pendleton became hitting coach), the Braves have scored more runs than every NL team except Philadelphia and Colorado.

Pendleton almost certainly doesn’t deserve all the credit for that. But if one thinks he deserves most of the blame when the Braves struggle offensively, why does one ignore the Braves’ overall offensive performance since he took over as hitting coach?

Don

June 14th, 2010
11:28 am

I don’t understand Mr. Schultz. Credit for what??
McLouth is hitting far below where he was hitting when he came to the Braves and far below his career aveage.
Heyward is significantly declining as a hitter since he first came up.
Melky has been hitting significantly below where he was hitting before he came to the Braves and below his career average.
Chipper is hitting significantly below his carrer average this years and where he was hitting when his Dad was helping him.
Same story on McCann.
Escobar’s hitting has significantly declined.
I don’t understand what you are talking about.

Shaun

June 14th, 2010
11:30 am

Dumbo, did you know the Braves have made outs less often than any team in the National League? (As evident by their out-avoidance percentage, also known as on-base percentage.)

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

F-105 Thunderchief

June 14th, 2010
11:32 am

I think people paid little attention to Pendleton until Francoer’s much publicized work with the Texas hitting coach. That’s when he seemed to acquire the target. It’s ironic that Frenchy continued to crash even after that Texas tutelage.

Mike Jay

June 14th, 2010
11:32 am

Don said “Heyward is significantly declining as a hitter since he first came up.”

Errr. Hmmm. You should probably give him at least a full season before you can declare anything about Heyward. Nobody knows what kind of hitter he will be at this point.

Shaun

June 14th, 2010
11:34 am

Don, shouldn’t Pendleton get too much credit when the Braves score runs just like he gets too much blame when they struggle?

The Braves are the third-best offensive team since the start of 2002, when Pendleton took over. Why not praise Pendleton for that?

Or why not take the correct view that coaches and managers can’t possibly make as huge a difference as many seem to think?

Remember all those folks who thought Roger McDowell deserved to be fired…that is until the Braves got some quality pitchers.

Shaun

June 14th, 2010
11:36 am

Don, Glaus has significantly improved as a hitter. Does that mean Pendleton deserves credit?

Mitchell

June 14th, 2010
11:39 am

Sure, he does deserve some credit. Just like he deserved to be criticized for the team’s abysmal performance at the plate in April.

Give a guy that much leeway, in such a low-pressure environment and eventually he’ll start looking like he knows what he’s doing.

I’m not saying he doesn’t, I’m just saying that for very long stretches over several seasons the Braves offensive has been woeful. Even after they got hot towards the end of last year, they still couldn’t even steal a late inning run.

A lot of places he wouldn’t have lasted this long. Would those team’s be right to fire him? Perhaps not but it’s a results oriented business.

It’s nice to finally get some good results. I hope we can make the most of it.

Dumbo

June 14th, 2010
11:41 am

Shaun…uh….you still only get 27 outs per game right?

matt r

June 14th, 2010
11:42 am

To be fair to Leo, he had a pretty good track record of taking some of the random guys that came in here and turning them productive. Chicken salad out of chicken…

cadilac

June 14th, 2010
11:49 am

what is his salary; when known then we can decide if the braves are getting enough bang for the buck.

Herschel Talker

June 14th, 2010
11:52 am

Schultzie:

Fair enough. But can we continue to blame him for McLouth’s train wreck of a season?

HT

Don

June 14th, 2010
11:55 am

When Heyward came up, he had a very mature approch to hitting – was very patient, was very selective, was hitting the ball where pitched – to all fields.
Now he is not nearly as patient or selective, is overswinging, swinging at bad pitches, and is trying to pull everything (or at least significantly more.
However, I do agree that this MAY NOT be Pendleton’s fault. The problem probably rests more with Bobby Cox – when he started giving him advice and told him to be more aggressie (and who knows what else.) Since then his hitting has significantly declined.
And I was not saying that Pendleton was necessiarly at fault for most of our regulars hitting significantly worse than they did last season or below their career averages — Just that you could not be giving him praise when this situation existed.

Brave1

June 14th, 2010
12:02 pm

I credit Pendelton for hanging his arms over the railing.
Other than that, he doesn’t deserve credit or blame. He’s a non-factor.

Reid Adair

June 14th, 2010
12:03 pm

I don’t think Terry Pendleton is to blame for Nate McLouth or Melky Cabrera; neither of them were great hitters before they came to Atlanta (despite what Frank Wren would have us believe).

I believe he does deserve some credit for the offensive turnaround since the losing streak as well.

Ralph

June 14th, 2010
12:04 pm

So why don’t we just get rid of the hitting coach position if they can’t fix anything and don’t cause anything, save a couple bucks to give to Glause.

tt44

June 14th, 2010
12:05 pm

all I can say is I am LONG TME BRAVES FAN AND WILL CONTIUE TO BE…I was frustrated with the entire team, hitting, fielding, execution etc…And I was definitely boo’ing! I am sorry! I live and die with the Braves, Falcons and Bulldawgs! Go Braves!

Mark

June 14th, 2010
12:09 pm

Credit for what? Troy Glaus? Prado?They are the reason why we’ve been winning. Heyward hasn’t done anything the past 20 games. Neither has chipper or mccann. Nate and melky have been terrible. Yunel. Stinks. Infante’s had some good at bats. But it’s those two above that have carried us. And that has nothing to do with TP. But when 5-6 of your starters are having well below avg years, that does.

tt44

June 14th, 2010
12:09 pm

AS FOR HEYWARD, HE NEEDS STICK WITH WHAT GOT HIM TO THE BIG DANCE! YA TAKE HERSCHEL WALKER WITH THE BULLDOGS TRAINING IN THE WEIGHT ROOM “IF IT AINT BROKE DONT FIX IT!”

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2010
12:23 pm

Thanks Kappelmeister.

Jake

June 14th, 2010
12:23 pm

Sorry, Schultz, that dog won’t hunt: I’m not fed up with Wren, but I agree with Fed Up With Wren — Pendleton deserves none of the credit, Glaus and Hinske are not his students and Prado finally got a chance to play after TP and Cox’s prolonged infatuation with Kelly Johnson. On the other hand, Jones and McCann aren’t hitting, Escobar has improved but is under-performing and McLouth is a one-man disaster area. And need we bring up Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur? The hope is that Heyward’s swoon is due to his thumb problem (and why, by the way, isn’t he being rested/rehabbed?), but he’s certainly not hitting for power and those 4- and 5-strikeout nights are hardly reassuring. TP is part of the problem.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2010
12:23 pm

Mtn Jim — I’m still favoring Fredi Gonzalez for that job.

The Wad

June 14th, 2010
12:25 pm

FedUpWithWren….You want to bury Pendleton(as did I until after May) for the problems of Jones McCann and Escobar. Let us break this down together.

Jones is the typical example of a veteran player staying one or two years past his prime. His reflexes won`t let him catch up to what his mind and eyes are still able to see. His fielding is worse than it has ever been so that unless the ball is hit right between his legs he has little chance of making a play.

McCann has had eye problems for the better part fo a year and a half now. He seems to go in 6 week cycles with his ability to see and recognize pitches. This has caused him to swing at pitches he never thought of swinging at in the first three years of All-Star caliber playing. Unless some Dr gets it right soon with him we may see a brilliant career come to a screaching halt in the next couple of years.

Escobar is the quentessential moody Latino player who mostly brings on his own problems and stews in them for weeks at a time. During that period he goes into a dive and his bat follows suit in lack of production. Fantastic talent but very immature as far as we fans can detect. He never seems to be happy with being a millionare in the greatest country on the planet and playing a kids game for a living.

Sorry but none of these are situations that a batting coach has ability to change or responsibilty to do so. You`re an idiot…..

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2010
12:25 pm

Fed Up With Wren –You conveniently left out Prado in your analysis.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2010
12:26 pm

All I’m Saying is — Thanks for the comments. I’m sure TP is used to this by now.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2010
12:27 pm

Hank … Blaming the hitting coach for a pitcher’s bunting problems. Now that’s funny.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2010
12:27 pm

Mike Jay — That was a nice summation there.

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2010
12:30 pm

Don — McLouth is an average player who is now a head case. Heyward is a ROOKIE who is going to go through ups and downs. Melky? Seriously? He’s an average player. Chipper’s on a significant physical decline. McCann struggling and, as noted, has eye issues. Escobar, as noted, head case. Did that cover it? And now let’s talk about the good players?

Jeff Schultz

June 14th, 2010
12:31 pm

Matt R — Yeah, I didn’t mean to throw Leo so completely under the bus. Obviously he was one of the better pitching coaches in the league. But you can’t do squat without talent — that’s the point.

Dumbo

June 14th, 2010
12:35 pm

JS I resent the credit of Hank for my comments on TP and KK’s bunting!
My feelings are hurt and I shall leave and never return!!!! I mean it!

Shaun

June 14th, 2010
12:35 pm

Can anyone criticizing Pendleton explain why we should ignore the fact that the Braves have scored more runs than every NL team except Philadelphia and Colorado over the course of Pendleton’s tenure?

Again, not saying that’s primarily because of Pendleton but if he deserves a great deal of blame, why doesn’t he deserve a great deal of credit for his overall performance as a hitting coach?

I’ve yet to get a good answer and I’ve asked that question a million times where there are lots of Pendleton critics.

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 14th, 2010
12:40 pm

Just as long Jeff it doesn’t elevate TP as replacement for Bobby.

I’ll take Gonzo or Eddie P. to be the next Skipper.

willy

June 14th, 2010
12:42 pm

You miss again, Schultz. The Braves are approaching each at bat the way Pendleton did – working the count, moving runners over, and doing all the little things. If you want to discuss his effect on the batters, you should look at how they get their results, not just the final numbers.

As for Mazzone, I read in this very paper about how his methods were actually vetoed in Baltimore. People in Baltimore believed as you do, that the coaching wasn’t nearly as important as the talent. If the talent doesn’t buy in, it isn’t.

I really wish you’d think about things a little more before you just spout something off of the top of your head. It’s lazy.

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 14th, 2010
12:43 pm

Esco a head case? Or does he just have bad hair days?

Ted M

June 14th, 2010
12:43 pm

What’s goin’ on w/Christian LeMay’s hearing?

Bill

June 14th, 2010
12:46 pm

I agree on Fredi Gonzalez…he!! no to TP for Mgr.
I don’t believe TP has done any major thing to get credit for improvement. Chipper, Nate and couple more still not hitting. Glaus was already a good hitter just had to get back in grove. Eric has always hit. TP’s done more harm than good.(Frenchy etc)
Leo is as good as they get, It would have took a miracle from God to improve Balt. pitching Staff.
Jeff I respect your opinion just diagree. More important problems we face today. Bless The USA.