New York Mets: Chili Davis To Return As Hitting Coach In Person For 2021

New York Mets, Chili Davis

New York Mets hitting coach Chili Davis spent the entire 2020 season on the opposite side country while working remotely. In 2021, Davis plans to return to his post in person and build on their offensive success from last season.

Davis worked remotely during 2020 due to his preexisting condition and wanted to remain safe from COVID-19. He plans to be with the team at the beginning of spring training, whenever it starts. Davis says he hopes to get the vaccine when it becomes available to him so he can be more at ease.

Statistically, the Mets offense was great in 2020 without Davis. They led all of baseball with a .272 batting average and finished in the top five for most offensive categories. The offense struggled with the clutch stats. They batted .245 w/RISP and struggled mightily in the first half of the season. Those numbers resulted in the Mets finishing in the middle of the pack in runs scored.

Davis will return to a very gifted group of hitters, headlined by the newly acquired Francisco Lindor. He joins James McCann, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo, to name a few. Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis were two pupils who benefitted from Davis in 2019 but missed his teachings during 2020. The players love Chili and will thrive with having him back in-person this season.

New York Mets: Chili Davis talks ‘tough’ coaching challenge, team’s offense

New York Mets, Chili Davis

New York Mets hitting coach Chili Davis, 60, has been working remotely during the team’s summer camp due to health risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Davis told reporters on Wednesday that being remote is “tough” (quotes per Mike Puma of the New York Post).

“It’s just really tough to do because I’m used to being around those guys and I’m used to being hands on with them, in contact with them all the time,” Davis said Wednesday. “I know a lot of things are real different there right now as far as how much contact you can make with players. It’s not easy. It’s kind of boring sitting here not doing what I signed up to do. It’s not easy at all.”

Davis said there’s “nothing in this world” that would make him think outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who’s expected to play in his first regular-season game in roughly two years, couldn’t find success this season.

“There is nothing in this world that I would ever believe that Cespedes cannot do on a baseball field,” Davis said. “He’s proven that to me already. He’s a very determined young man. He’s a very proud young man, so I think when he makes up his mind that he’s going to go out to the world and prove what he can do, he’s going to definitely do that. I just hope he stays healthy. If he stays healthy he is going to be a huge benefit to that ballclub.”

Davis feels shortstop Amed Rosario can be a catalyst for the Mets offense.

“If Rosie is hitting ninth, he is a guy that starts that whole lineup again at the back of the lineup,” Davis said. “If he’s on base, now you have Nimmo or [McNeil] or somebody coming up after him. I think they are three good quality leadoff hitters.The obvious choice I think will probably end up being Nimmo or Mac [at leadoff] because of the success they have had.”

Davis had a conversation with first baseman Pete Alonso where he expressed to the 2019 National League Rookie of the Year that he has to keep his approach “as simple as possible.”

“Petey and I had a conversation [Monday], just reminding him the guy who hit 53 home runs last year wasn’t just the guy who finished the year, the second half,” Davis said. “The guy that hit 53 home runs last year was the guy that started from spring training to the All-Star break. I thought he had a few more ups and downs in the second half than in the first half.”

“The one thing we talk about mostly is this year, especially, you can’t match in a 60-game season those numbers you put up last year,” Davis said. “You have got to keep the approach as simple as possible.”

“The second thing I wanted him to understand: ‘Don’t put in your mind that pitchers aren’t going to pitch to you.’ They are.”

The New York Mets open the 2020 season at home against the Atlanta Braves on Friday.

New York Mets: Hitting Coach Chili Davis to Work Remotely

The New York Mets announced their first member to stay away from Citi Field during summer camp. While it is not a player, it is their hitting coach Chili Davis who will not report to Citi Field for full team workouts on Friday.

Davis is a resident of Arizona, a state that has seen their positive COVID-19 cases rise over the last few weeks. While he does not have the virus, Davis is deciding to stay home as a precaution to keep others in the organization safe. Players who reported to Citi Field on Wednesday were also awaiting results of their COVID tests to make sure they were good to go.

Remote Learning

Thankfully technology is at a point where instruction can efficiently work through a phone or computer.  Assistant hitting coach Tom Slater is going to work with the hitters in person during Davis’s absence.

Davis will work much like teachers throughout the country did. He will review hitting footage and conduct Zoom meetings to stay active with the players. It will be as simple as setting up a tripod with an iPad connected directly in the batting cage where Davis can give immediate feedback.

Davis may not be the first one to opt-out as Brodie Van Wagenen still waits for confirmation from the rest of Luis Rojas staff. Rojas will hold a Zoom meeting with his coaches on Thursday to figure out a plan for summer camp.

The New York Mets have built a Tactically Diverse Coaching Staff

New York Mets to interview Carlos Beltran.

The New York Mets have done a phenomenal job of filling their coaching staff with diverse skill sets.

When the New York Mets fired Mickey Callaway fans were desperate for an experienced manager who would know how to lead this team into the future. Instead, the Mets hired Carlos Beltran, a person with no coaching experience whatsoever.

That has some fans scared that Beltran won’t be any better than Callaway. Specifically, they worry about his understanding of in-game tactics and his ability to take control of a locker room, not a leader among his peers but as a boss.

Mets’ fans should feel at ease knowing that the Mets built a strong staff that should help aid Beltran in every weakness he has. They have done a terrific job of bringing in coaches from a variety of different backgrounds, all of whom have different strengths. Some of whom have completely opposite opinions of how to help their players.

Those diverse ideas and strengths should only help the team grow this season. Hopefully, it helps them get where they should have been in 2019, the Playoffs.

The Natural Talent – Carlos Beltran, Manager

Carlos Beltran was considered one of the rising star managerial prospects in baseball for a reason. His natural baseball IQ and his leadership abilities have been on display for years now.

It started with the Yankees where Beltran took on a veteran leadership role and helped mentor the Yankees young players, like fellow outfielder Aaron Judge who made his debut at the end of 2016.

Beltran continued that role in Houston with the Astros where the players referred to him as another coach in the building. Carlos Correa in particular, loved Carlos Beltran and believed that he would be a fantastic manager one day.

Beltran spent the last two years with the Yankees and learned the craft from a front office and coach role. While there he learned analytics and he developed his skills as an evaluator and communicator. For example, he helped James Paxton stop tipping pitches and fix his mechanics.

This is all to say that Beltran is a natural fit as a manager. His natural connection and understanding of the game makes him a perfect fit for this young New York Mets’ team.

The Communicator – Hensley Meulens, Bench Coach

Hensley Meulens is known for his communication skills. He has been praised for it every place he has been in his career. A large reason for that is the effort Meulens goes to making himself available to speak to his players. He is the only coach in all of baseball who can speak five languages, English, Japanese, Spanish, Papiamento, and Dutch.

Being able to speak to players in their native tongue goes a long way for them. It helps build trust and a connection between the players and the staff.

Meulens will likely take the role of the clubhouse communicator for Beltran early on. Beltran still has to learn how to communicate as a boss, not as a peer or mentor. It’s a different kind of communication. Something that Meulens has experience with.

He was the Giants bench coach for two years and was the Netherlands manager for the World Baseball Classic in 2013 and 2017. He has the experience and knowledge that Beltran will need on how to run a clubhouse.

Bringing in Meulens to fill that role is a strong choice for the Mets and their coaching staff. It should make Beltran’s transition to manager easier from a clubhouse leader standpoint.

The Old-School Hitter – Chili Davis, Hitting Coach

Chili Davis will be returning to the Mets in 2020. After a successful run with the team in 2019, the Mets were able to reach a multi-year agreement with Davis.

This should be a good thing. Something about his approach seemed to resonate with the Mets last season as many players had career years, like Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, and JD Davis.

Davis comes with an old-school approach. He dislikes the launch angle swing and he preaches putting the ball in play. For Davis a single is better than a walk. He thinks putting the ball on the ground is a sound strategy, and he wants his player to hit the other way as much as possible.

It’s an antiquated thought process, but one that seems to have resonated with the Mets. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened either. While with the Cubs Davis made a strong connection with Javy Baez who had an MVP caliber season, however his message didn’t mesh with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant so Davis was fired.

With the league so focused on analytics it could be nice to have a guy who is focused on finding ways to beat analytical pitchers and shifting, rather than try to out-smart them with numbers.

The Analytic Pitcher – Jeremy Hefner, Pitching Coach

Jeremy Hefner is returning to the New York Mets, and he brings his analytic approach with him. Jeremy Hefner was considered a rising star for his unbelievable understand and implementation of analytics. With the Twins, Hefner did a fantastic job of translating analytics into real strategies for their pitchers.

It led to elite results. The Twins went from a bottom-five team in the AL in pitching WAR in 2018 to a top-5 in the AL in pitching WAR in 2019. A lot of that has to do with Hefner and his ability to help his pitchers game plan around hitters.

For example, the Twins found a way to beat Pete Alonso in 2019. Alonso hit just .188/.316/.750 against the Twins. They couldn’t keep Alonso from hitting the ball loud when he hit it, but they counteracted that by making it so he only got three hits in two series. They shut down Jeff McNeil as well in 2019. McNeil hit .235/.278/.294 against the Twins.

The Mets may have won the season series against the Twins 3-1, but the Twins shut down the Mets’ big hitters. They forced everyone else in the lineup to beat them. That’s what Hefner brings to the table. The ability to help his pitchers figure out how to attack the most dangerous hitters in the opponents’ lineups and shut them down.

For a guy like Noah Syndergaard who has dominant stuff  but lacks in the mental parts of pitching, a guy like Hefner should be ideal. He can help Syndergaard build a gameplan and help him  attack batters in a smarter fashion.

Adding one of the leading analytic coaches in all of baseball is certainly a way to help your team in 2020. It should also help the New York Mets franchise in general catch up to the rest of the league in analytics. Something they have lacked for years.

New York Mets: Chili Davis Returning as Hitting Coach

The New York Mets have secured their first member of new manager Carlos Beltran’s coaching staff. They are retaining Chili Davis as hitting coach on a multi-year deal. Davis is a holdover from the Mickey Callaway regime and was a key part of the Mets offensive successes in 2019.

Davis was also the favorite to land the hitting coach position for the Philadelphia Phillies under Joe Girardi. Throughout the offseason, Davis said he wanted to remain in New York, but wanted a multi-year deal. The Mets and Davis were able to agree on a two-year deal to keep him with the Mets.

Davis Influence

Davis helped guide an offense which finished second in the National League in wRC+ (104) and fifth with 242 home runs. He was not alone as he had Tom Slater as his assistant hitting coach as well. The Mets will bring back Slater on a two-year deal to secure Beltran’s hitting coaches.

Their influence also played a major role for young hitters like Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis and Amed Rosario. All three players had good to amazing seasons and bought into the idea of using the entire field. Michael Conforto and Wilson Ramos were two other members of the Mets offense who had solid seasons under Davis.

Davis’ expertise as a hitter has translated well to his coaching ability. He hit .274 with 350 home runs over his 19 years in the big leagues and was a feared DH in the prime of his career. All the players in the clubhouse respected and gravitated towards him.

With Davis and Slater back in their roles, the Mets only have two key positions left to fill. Jeremy Hefner is rumored to be the favorite for Mets pitching coach, while names like Fredi Gonzalez and Ron Wotus have been rumored for the bench coach position.