Feb 24, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals hitting coach Pedro Grifol poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Grifol is the Royals Future Scapegoat


When a team is not performing on offense, one of the first targets for fan ire is the hitting coach. A being that is generally forgotten about when a team is hitting, the hitting coach becomes a convenient scapegoat when an offense is performing below expectations. Given the Royals dismal offensive production this season, it seems inevitable that Pedro Grifol will become the team’s next sacrificial lamb when they decide it is time to shake things up.

Yet, how much should the hitting coach be blamed? Since the beginning of the 2012 season, the Royals have seen Kevin Seitzer, Andre David, Jack Maloof, George Brett (albeit temporarily) and Grifol at the position. Meanwhile, the Royals offense has been less productive each season, decreasing from an average of 4.17 runs per game in 2012 to 4.00 in 2013 to a mere 3.73 this season. Any semblance of power has completely vanished, as the Royals are on pace to hit a whopping 62 home runs this year. Is this really the fault of the hitting coaches?

While the people in the position have changed, majority of the players on the Royals have not. Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer are still considered key components of the lineup. Gordon has performed well, yet none of these players have produced as expected this season. Mike Moustakas has been a mess, and was sent to Omaha. Yet, for those failures, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar are producing at what would be a career best rate if the season was to end today. How is it that Pedro Grifol is making progress with Cain and Escobar, but not the others in the lineup?

Maybe, just maybe, it is not the fault of the hitting coach. Even though the general approach may be the same, having five different voices in just over two seasons critiquing one’s hitting technique has to be confusing. Having a hitting coach who could provide something resembling stability to the role by lasting longer than a season may go a long way to improving the Royals offensive production over the long term.

Instead, Grifol is likely to be blamed for the Royals lack of production. This does make sense in a vacuum; however, how much longer can the hitting coach be the fall guy? How much longer will it take before the Royals realize that the problem may not actually be the hitting coach, but the players themselves? How much longer until actual wholesale changes are made, instead of a cosmetic fix that changes absolutely nothing?

With the Royals lineup producing at such an astonishingly poor level, Pedro Grifol is likely to see the axe swing down in his direction. Yet, the lack of offensive production is also indicative of a systematic problem with being able to develop players and construct a roster. Meanwhile Dayton Moore, the architect of this roster, seems to be relatively exempt from blame.

The end is likely coming for Pedro Grifol in the somewhat near future. However, getting rid of Grifol will not really change anything. The Royals need legitimate changes, not just cosmetic ones to appease the masses. Getting rid of the hitting coach would not be enough.

Tags: Kansas City Royals Pedro Grifol

  • jimfetterolf

    All hitting styles do not fit all hitters. An approach and swing that works for fast push hitters won’t get homers from Alex, Eric, and Billy. And hitting coaches do more than just fine-tune swings, they also do homework on the match ups, develop an approach, and fine tune it during a game. Seitzer was good at that, kept meticulous stats and was able to spot adjustments during a game. Since then the Royals seem unprepared, they get fooled too much. Since you got the Williams’ book I’m probably preaching to the choir.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    To a lot of people, it’s not just Grifol that is seen as the problem. Yes, I am one that thinks he needs to go. But I also believe that it’s time to blow up that franchise. Moore needs to be let go, Yost needs to be let go, Grifol needs to be let go… I think the only coach that should feel any sense of comfort is the pitching coach. But it’s time for a complete make over. The 8 year plan was ridiculous to begin with. Why is it we have to wait 8 years before we see a contender? San Fan cleaned house and now they have won the World Series twice. The fact of the matter is, everyone is sitting comfortable when they should be 100% freaking out.

    Now the point of everyone should be freaking out should go to the players as well. The fact that we don’t have anyone in the minors giving anyone a run for their money is pathetic. Competition makes everyone better. The fact that we don’t have anyone at any position that can give anyone a run for their money should be a concern. The fact that we don’t have a pitcher in the minors who will be starting within the next 2-3 years is a problem. That doesn’t fall on the players, that falls on the management. I hate looking back at previous drafts because it makes everything totally irrelivent, but imagine the players we could have had. We have been in the top 5 to many times to count, but we only have 2 non pitchers on our big league roster that we drafted. Thats awful.

    New GM, new manager, new feel to the team. It’s not one person, it’s the franchise.

    • jimfetterolf

      Possible but a bit early. If they’re out of it at the ASB, trade Shields and Gordon for prospects. After the season is the better time to clean house, there will be other managers and GMs available and with over $25m of contracts off the books there will be financial flexibility.

      Of course, I think it’s an over reaction to want to scuttle the ship because Ventura got a sore arm and Duffy just didn’t have it.

  • Seth

    When almostthe whole team is hitting poorly, it has to start with the hitting coach. This is a young team who is looking at their hitting coach to help them get better. Thats’s why he’s the hitting coach. Grifol seems to be somone who can help one maybe two hitters at any given time. Last year, he and George Brett focused on Hosmer, in the off season he focused on Moustakas. The season begins, then you have a team full of potential who is hitting poorly. Baseball operations goes in the order of the food chain, it starts with the bottom which is the hitting or pitching coach. Grifol has not had a consistant hitter since he has been with the Royals. Ned Yost develops players. Maybe he doesn’t have what it takes to get them to the next level, but find me a better manager that has help that position with the Royals in the last 20 years, Dayton Moore has made moves that brought in talent rather than players like Reggie Sanders, Jose Guillen, and so on who turned out to be a bust.

  • moretrouble

    Nice article … and timely. I hope Grifol isn’t made into a scapegoat. I’d like to point out that Dayton made some nice deals over the winter and the club isn’t showing the results yet. Once Valencia and Infante are in the line-up every day, I think fans will see the offense pick up the pace.

  • Ryan Caltrider

    Dayton has found his scapegoat!

  • jessanders

    Wow…

    Your predictive powers astound me.

    • Dave Hill

      Every once in a while, I can figure these things out. Even I’m shocked at the timing of the post and the announcement.