Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers, the man behind the offensive power
We often talk about the men on the baseball field. But what about the men behind the scenes? Who is the Red Sox hitting coach? What has Tim Hyers done?
Boston Red Sox hitting coach, Tim Hyers, plays a big role on the team. As Sporting New’s John McMurray with help from Diamondbacks’ coach Dave Magadan explains, the challenging role of the hitting coach includes working on hitting mechanics, getting players out of slumps, helping players constantly in making adjustments, and teaching players to learn and adopt new hitting techniques and approaches behind the plate. As analytics and technology advances, hitting coaches must become more and more fluid in their coaching approaches.
Hyers is in his second season as the Red Sox hitting coach. In 2018, the Red Sox had a .268 BA, .339 OBP, and a .453 SLG. In 2019, the Sox have a .274 BA, .344 OBP, and a .471 SLG. Before Hyers took over as the hitting coach, the Red Sox had a .258 BA, .329 OBP, and a .407 SLG in 2017. While there’s been player turnover, trades, and new additions to the team that could help explain other reasons for these improvements, Hyers certainly played a role, as the recent increase in offense performance shows.
The 47-year-old was drafted by the Blue Jays in 1990 and made his MLB debut in 1994. He played first base, outfield and as a pinch-hitter. Hayes had a career .217 BA, .298 OBP, and .287 SLG. He spent 2 years with the San Diego Padres (who picked him up on the Rule 5 draft), 1 year with the Detroit Tigers, and 1 year with the Florida Marlins.
After playing, Hyers started his career with the Red Sox as a scout. From 2013-2015 he was a minor league hitting coordinator with the Red Sox. He left Boston for the 2016 and 2017 seasons when a promotion to assistant hitting coach became available with the Dodgers. During those two seasons, the Dodgers offense set franchise records, won Division titles, and NL pennants.
The Dodgers built their organization around research, analytics, and data-driven concepts. Tim’s experience with the Dodgers gave him the access needed to learn new developments in research and analytics. He has a gifted ability to take data and translate it simply. He’s able to explain this information that gives hitters a descriptive picture of the lanes to look for when they’re at the plate.
MassLive’s Christopher Smith describes Tim Hyers as being a “launch angle expert”. Not only is Hyers focused on analytics, but he’s also developed a passion for pitching analytics. Pitchers are all different: they’re individual in their angle, approach, release, and locations. The onus then is really on the hitting coach to help players learn how to adjust their swing paths for each pitcher.
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In a way, Hyers reminds me of New England Patriots Bill Belichick. In The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam, Belichick is described as being a defensive-minded coach who has a strong passion for leading his defenses. Part of what helped give Belichick his great success was his ability to understand, read, and interpret what an offense would do before they did it. Hyers is coaching in a different sport but employs that same mentality to his work daily.
Hyers, as many good coaches, has learned how to adjust his approach to best meet the needs of individual players. He learned that some hitters need ample information and that others need the bare minimums. He found a balance in passing on information along to the players in ways that make sense to them. Above all else, he uses his players to draw out the information that they’ve learned at times allowing players to teach each other.
Hyers questioned how an organization can give a player the information that he needs without overloading the player but giving him enough information to be informed and well-prepared. As he words it,
"“How you do that, I think, is the next wave of coaching. It’s there. Players want to know it. How do you simplify, not get so technical that they lose it by the time they get to the batter’s box? How do you simplify the important things so they can understand and so it can be usable in a game without killing the athleticism, the reactions, and the flow of their natural ability?”"
Hyers is a student of baseball. He loves talking about hitting. He truly feels that this is what he was meant to do. He has already made a positive contribution since joining the Red Sox as a hitting coach. Hopefully, with the struggles of the Red Sox, this season Hyers can help find a way for the Sox to get back on a hot streak.