Despite the overriding mantra of ‘get the pitching’ dominating the offseason work of the 2018-2019 Cincinnati Reds, the addition of hitting coach Turner Ward to new manager David Bell’s staff was seen as something of a coup. After all, Ward had been the hitting coach for a pair of Los Angeles Dodgers clubs who had absolutely pounded baseballs, and came with quite the solid reputation.
After just one season, however, the Reds aren’t bringing Ward back. The club announced the news on Twitter earlier on Tuesday.
#Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams today announced that hitting coach Turner Ward will not return to manager David Bell's coaching staff in 2020.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) October 1, 2019
Reds hitters ranked 25th in all MLB in wRC+ in 2019, while also ranking in the bottom third in both OBP and wOBA. They also smacked just the 14th most dingers in baseball despite playing their home games in one of the more notorious parks for crushing homers in the game.
The 2019 season also saw some quirks with the team’s hitting approach, ones that will be interesting to follow now that Ward won’t continue his tenure with the team. Joey Votto famously abandoned his crouch stance and choking up on the bat mid-year, instead adopting a more upright approach that, in small sample, yielded improved results. Tucker Barnhart also similarly adopted a more upright approach, and also discussed recently his decision to give up hitting from the right-side. Nick Senzel, too, spent a period of time tinkering with his batting stance late in the season.
It’s also a bit of an odd scenario for the Reds when you factor in the gigantic trade they made last winter with the Dodgers to bring in the likes of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer, too, considering that Ward came into the Reds hands with a reputation for working well with Puig, in particular. Now, only Farmer remains from that series of transactions, while the 2019 Dodgers just posted the single best team offense in all of the National League without that group.
Looks like the Reds certainly do not appear satisfied with simply not losing 90 games in 2019, and if this is the kind of move that we see this early in the offseason, perhaps there actually will be some big-time fireworks to look forward to this winter.