Dave Hudgens was fired as hitting coach of the Mets on Monday. The move was made partially because the Mets needed an immediate fall-guy for their offensive woes, and partially because Hudgens didn’t succeed in his effort to turn the organization’s hitting philosophy into results through the players he was hired to guide.
On his way out, Hudgens addressed two separate topics – the fans (who he says are a guilty party for the offensive woes at home), and Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling (who he says he’s glad he won’t have to listen to anymore).
As far as Hudgens being sensitive to both Hernandez and Darling questioning the Mets hitting approach, that’s a blip – perhaps a moment of anger from a man who just lost his job.
It’s Hudgens blaming the booing fans for poor performance that stood out.
On the subject of the fans and booing, Hudgens said:
I really just think guys tried too hard at home. I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on. It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it. And they’re trying really hard at home.
You can see it in the statistics. The fly-ball rates went up, the swing-and-miss rates went up at home. I think we were first in the league in runs scored on the road, so I think guys were relaxed on the road. They could just go out and play the game, don’t worry about anything. Then at home, they’re trying to do so much. I’ve never seen that work out — especially young players trying to do more than they should be doing. When you look at the numbers inside the numbers, and you see exit velocity rates going down at home, you see fly ball rates going up, you see swing-and-miss rates going up, you see chase rates going up a little bit — although we’re best in the league in not chasing pitches out of the zone — I think those things, it just means guys trying to do too much, trying too hard.
This is not to say that booing anything but lack of effort makes sense and/or peps up the attitude of the recipient, but to blame a patch of booing fans for the almost complete ineptitude of the offense at home is ridiculous.
Hudgens hinted that Granderson (who was booed a few times by a small number of fans) was one of the main recipients of the booing. That certainly hasn’t stopped Granderson from producing lately.
As far as the rest of the club, if they’re so emotionally fragile that booing from fans (directed at them or teammates) leads them to both change their approach at home and/or see their numbers suffer because of pressure, perhaps it’s the players who are the problem.
However, I’ll subscribe to the notion that Hudgens’ excuse for the players is hollow. The fans aren’t to blame here. The players are. Going higher up the chain, Sandy Alderson (and ownership, which has limited his availability to spend) are both to blame for putting a product on the field that is sub-par offensively.