The White Sox will have a new hitting coach in 2020.
The team announced Wednesday that it parted ways with Todd Steverson, who was the team's hitting coach for the past six seasons, adding that assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks will not have his contract renewed for the 2020 season, either. The rest of the coaching staff will return.
Steverson's departure comes after a 2019 season that saw several of the team's young, core players break out offensively. Tim Anderson went from a .240 hitter in 2018 to the big league batting champ, with a .335 average by season's end. Yoan Moncada went from 217 strikeouts as part of a disappointing 2018 season to the team's best all-around hitter. Eloy Jimenez hit 31 home runs as a rookie. And the always consistent Jose Abreu led the American League with 123 RBIs.
But those individual performances didn't stop the White Sox from struggling offensively as a team. Among AL teams, only the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals scored fewer runs. The Tigers, Royals and Baltimore Orioles were the only AL teams with a lower OPS than the White Sox. The Tigers, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners were the only AL teams who struck out more than the White Sox. The team ranked 25th in the major leagues in home runs and dead last in the bigs in walks.
"One the one hand, you expect talented players to perform well on the big league level. On the other hand, you can't take things for granted and guys need instruction and adjustments and occasionally some good luck to help get them to fulfill their potential," general manager Rick Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference last week, asked about the disparity between some of the individual accomplishments and the team's combined hitting numbers. "Overall, we've struggled in a few categories that we want to get better in, and we know we have to get better in. But when you look at some of the individual top performers, you have to be pleased with their progress and feel really good about where TA and Yoan are right now and where Eloy is, even."
In complimenting the staff — all but two of which will be back next season — Hahn might have hinted at a potential change in focus. He applauded their efforts from a player-development standpoint, but with the White Sox looking ready to shift from rebuilding mode to contending mode in 2020, perhaps the player-development skill isn't as much of a priority as it has been in recent seasons, or perhaps the White Sox will look for someone with a different skill set altogether.
"Certainly when we assembled this staff, we wanted it to be filled with guys with roots in player development so that they were able to teach our young players and hold them accountable and set standards," Hahn said. "And we're certainly very pleased with how that's unfolded."
Well, now we know that the White Sox will have a new hitting coach moving forward.
A potential candidate to fill Steverson's shoes might be Frank Menechino, who was hired away from the Miami Marlins organization last season and served as the hitting coach at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Menechino joined the White Sox at the big league level once Charlotte's season was over. He was present at Charlotte for the excellent Triple-A performances of top-ranked prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, two players who figure to reach the major leagues in the early portion of the 2020 campaign.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.