Hitting coach Don Baylor has left the Arizona Diamondbacks to take the same role with the Los Angeles Angels. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic first reported the move on Wednesday afternoon:
Looks like the Dbacks will be looking for a hitting coach, too. Sources say Don Baylor is headed to the Angels. http://t.co/SEs7gRKjLg— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) October 16, 2013
Shortly after, the Angels confirmed the move, via Twitter:
It's just the latest shakeup in what's been a whirlwind couple of weeks since the regular season ended for the Diamondbacks. Baylor was one of five Arizona assistant coaches asked to return on Oct. 8, the same day the club announced it fired first-base coach Steve Sax and pitching coach Charles Nagy.
Now manager Kirk Gibson has another hole to fill on his coaching staff, though assistant hitting coach Turner Ward could be promoted to the role.
By asking Baylor to return for another season in 2014, it's clear the front office was happy with the job he was doing. This season, Baylor helped guide the Diamondbacks to a fifth-place National League ranking in runs scored (685) and team batting average (.259).
Baylor spent the past three seasons with the Diamondbacks, who went 81-81 each of the past two years following a 94-win playoff campaign in 2011. The longtime MLB veteran put together a 19-year playing career and has held an MLB coaching gig virtually every season since 1990, including two managerial stints.
But now Baylor is headed to the Angels, who possess one of the most talented lineups in baseball. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times points out, Baylor also gets to reunite with general manager Jerry DiPoto:
In 1997-98, Jerry Dipoto was closer for Rockies, then managed by Don Baylor. Dipoto hired Baylor today as #Angels hitting coach.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 16, 2013
“Don enjoyed a distinguished playing career, highlighted by his tenure with the Angels during their first two division championships,” DiPoto said in a statement, via MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. “As a coach, he brings us tremendous expertise in the areas of hitting, communication and presence. It’s nice to have him home.”
The Angels were expected to have one of the most prolific offenses in baseball heading into 2013 after signing Josh Hamilton to a free-agent deal, pairing him with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. But midway through the season, longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was fired as Los Angeles missed the playoffs, finishing sixth in the AL in runs scored (733) and third in AL batting average (.264).
For Baylor, this move makes a lot of sense. Working day in and day out with three great sluggers and others like Mike Trumbo, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar sounds like it has a lot more potential than coming back to a middling Arizona team with a revamped coaching staff.