Chris Valaika is the Indians new hitting coach.
The 2022 season will not just be the first for the Cleveland Guardians (formerly Indians) but for new hitting coach Chris Valaika. After spending some time with the Chicago Cubs as an assistant hitting coach, Cleveland decided to give him a shot at turning around the Tribe’s putrid hitting from the last few seasons.
A task that’s nearly impossible for a seasoned coach, let alone a brand new one, but one that Valaika is up for. According to Bleacher Nation (by way of Covering The Corner), Valaika started his coaching career in the minor leagues as a hitting instructor. In 2021 he was brought up by the Cubs to serve as the team’s assistant hitting coach and apparently developed a good report with older guys, who had been struggling a bit before he came on.
If he was able to help turn around several guys on the Cubs roster, then maybe the Guardians/Indians will have hope for 2022. There are clearly some guys who could use it. Some of the players on Cleveland’s roster are nearing the end of the road and are in desperate need of a miracle if they hope to continue their careers past 2022.
Three players Chris Valaika may be able to help
Hitting just .178, and only walking 15 times in 88 games, Austin Hedges is not what he was hoped to be coming over from the Padres. He’s currently 28 years old and if Hedges is ever going to put it all together it’s either now or never.
No one on the Indians struck out as regularly as Bradley Zimmer. He ranked second on the team in total strikes (122) and was the only player to have more than 100 strikeouts in less than 300 at-bats. Zimmer struck out 40.8% of the time. If the team wasn’t so desperate for anyone to hit above .200, I’d recommend sending Zimmer to one of the foreign leagues in exchange for some local delicacies.
If we’re talking about whiffing at the plate, we can’t forget Bobby Bradley, who struck out 40.4% of the time. Like with Zimmer, improving his rate of contact is vital to his career. He’s already 26 years old and isn’t the home run-hitting savant many had pegged him for early in his 2021 call-up. It’s finally do or die for Bradley.