The Subtlety of Toby Harrah

In late June, the Tigers organizational hitting instructor, Toby Harrah, joined the team when they visited his home state to play a three game series against the Texas Rangers. When they left for Tampa on the 28th of June, Harrah jumped on the departing plane and he hasn’t left.

In fact, as Jason Beck explained in his blog back on June 27th, Harrah will be with the Tigers for the rest of the year, assisting hitting coach Lloyd McClendon on a number of issues, but mostly, you know, hitting stuff.

“He’s just going to kind of tag along up here for a while and just take a look at some guys,” manager Jim Leyland said after Wednesday’s loss. “We’ve had so many guys struggling, it’s nice to have another helping hand.”

Scott Miller of profiled the trend of teams adding coaches for hitting in a story earlier this month. The Braves, Cardinals and Padres reportedly use two hitting coaches, while other teams have added assistants to help out.

A large part of the trend involves workload. Between extra hitting in indoor cages, early batting practice for hitters working on adjustments, plus video analysis, the job has involved and grown.

“A lot of teams have gone to that now,” Leyland said. “This is really nothing new. I don’t know how long Toby’s going to be here. I think he’ll probably come and go a little bit, but he’s going to be around. A lot of teams have done this. I know Tony La Russa did this with the Cardinals. They had two guys over there to kind of help out, because when you get more than one or two guys struggling, it’s a pretty big job for one guy.”

So, no, this isn’t a knock on Lloyd McClendon, Lord knows the impact he’s had on Austin Jackson, which I know I shouldn’t have to mention but will since I myself have criticized McClendon earlier this year.

But the addition of Harrah can only help in the day and age where analyzing hitting through video and the like is akin to eating your morning Wheaties.

And so far, it has.

Since he has been with the Tigers they have gone 8-3 and have scored 59 runs (that’s 5.3 runs per game, people!)

Now, I’m not saying that it’s because of Harrah. That’s stupid. It’s 11 games, which is the smallest of small sample sizes, if you like to use that term, but it’s worth mentioning that because before Harrah arrived the team was 36-39 and had scored 328 runs, or 4.3 runs per game.

A lot of the Tigers recent success can be accredited to the month of July, to an offense that has finally found a gear that works, to the pitiful Tampa Bay offense, and the horrifying pitching of Minnesota and Kansas City.

But if there is a baseline to work off of, Harrah is it.

- for Harrah’s stats, click here

- for a nice paragraph written about him, click here

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