It appears that major league front offices are taking Thursday as their opportunity to announce new coaching hires, as the Reds have announced the installment of Alan Zinter as the club’s new hitting coach and the promotion of Donnie Ecker to an assistant hitting coach and director of hitting role.
This announcement won’t carry the same impact of the managerial hires reported around the game today, but Zinter’s hire could still prove crucial for a club looking to get over the hump in 2020. A former hitting coach with the Padres, Zinter has been working in player development for the last two years in the Giants organization. Turner Ward, the club’s former hitting instructor, was relieved of duty earlier this month after one season in Cincy.
Zinter will inherit from Ward one of the game’s bottom-half offenses. The club’s 2019 cumulative 87 wRC+ figure–which accounts for park factors–placed Cincinnati 26th among major league teams last year. Though they did unlock a massive breakout from Eugenio Suarez and a nice half-season from Aristides Aquino, the Reds coaching staff received disappointing seasons from the since-departed Yasiel Puig and cornerstone Joey Votto. If hitting is the archetype of the inexact sciences, then Zinter and Ecker will be tasked with undertaking some bold experiments in 2020 to tap into the potential of a largely stagnant group of Reds hitters.