With Tim Anderson winning a batting title, Jose Abreu hitting 33 home runs and leading the American League with 123 RBI, Eloy Jimenez belting 31 homers and finishing with AL Rookie of the Month honors and Yoan Moncada outperforming them all, former hitting coach Todd Steverson leaves the White Sox with nothing to be ashamed of.
“I walk out with my head held high,” said Steverson, who, along with assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks, was let go this week while all other coaches were retained. “I had six years with the White Sox. That’s a hell of a run as a hitting guy in this league.’’
The Sox said Wednesday that Steverson, Sparks and the club “agreed to part ways” while citing Anderson’s and Abreu’s achievements under their tutelage and presumably saving an explanation for the move when new hires are announced.
“Without getting into semantics, sometimes organizations just need another voice,” Steverson said. “It’s not that I didn’t do my job. It was very clear I did on the level of production and getting the core kids better to be ready to contend. But in baseball, sometimes it gets to the point where it’s time to part ways.”
General manager Rick Hahn cited on-base percentage as an area to improve for a 72-89 team that ranked fifth in batting average but 11th in OBP, last in walks, fourth in strikeouts and 13th in runs in the AL.
“Obviously, the construction of the roster was not historically on-base guys, but in my world, they hit,” Steverson said. “You have to also know how to hit to take walks. With a young core, being hit-first, know what you want to do up there and then gradually be able to take walks.”
Anderson led the majors with a .335 average and walked only 15 times.
“Would I love to see more walks and higher on-base percentages? Absolutely,” Steverson said. “But the way it went down, I’m much more happy that guys hit than just go up there and say, ‘I have to get my OBP better.’ ”
Steverson said he took pride in Anderson adding 95 points to his average, Abreu’s consistency during the six years their careers coincided and where Moncada and Jimenez are in their young careers. He also cited All-Star James McCann and “catalyst” Leury Garcia.
“Eloy is going to be a really, really good hitter for years to come for the White Sox,” Steverson said. “Everybody looks at the homers and the majestic shots, but the man can hit.
“[Moncada] is going to be a beast in the league. He can flat-out rake. The work he put in this offseason, the mental approach and sticking with it was impressive and gratifying.”
Perhaps it served as a hint that the Sox were thinking of a change when Class AAA Charlotte hitting coach Frank Menechino spent parts of September with the club. Steverson had no issue with Menechino, the Marlins’ hitting coach for two seasons and assistant hitting coach for three from 2014 to 2018, being around and keeping watch on former Charlotte players Zack Collins and Danny Mendick.
“I’m not territorial like that,” Steverson said.
“I’m not sure who they want. If it’s Frankie, it’s Frankie. Frankie is a former big-league hitting coach, so if that’s the choice, that’s the choice.”
Steverson, who wants to stay in baseball, exits with no hard feelings, just good ones about his years with the Sox.
“I was able to help these kids reach their potential and more importantly on a personal growth level,” he said. “Credit and blame with that job, it comes with the territory. I was able to help players in a way that can’t be quantified by numbers. Some of the relationships, personal growth you won’t see in an OPS. More of a personal growth with a lot of players was part of the biggest takeaway for me.”