The greatest power hitter of all time, Barry Bonds, has a tentative plan in place to work with the Miami Marlins as a hitting coach. According to insiders, the Marlins have offered Bonds the job, and he plans to accept, but it just hasn’t been finalized. As such, the deal is far from official at this point, but it would be a big move on both sides. The Marlins have struggled over the last several years with hitting. Last year, as a whole, the team hit .260. The most consistent team in MLB was the Detroit Tigers at .270, which seems to put the Marlins in good company, but if you look at the worst team in all of MLB, the Marlins weren’t that far ahead, either. The San Diego Padres as a unit hit .243. Interestingly, a team can be quite successful with a poor batting average. The New York Mets, who went to the 2015 World Series, had the third worst batting average in all of the majors with a collective average of .244.
Bonds’ worth, then, would come not in improving batting averages dramatically, but in increasing power. His rise from a decent homerun hitter with the Pittsburgh Pirates to the best power hitter of all time by the end of his career with the San Francisco Giants was purely because he could hit the ball hard more consistently. Putting aside any allegations of performance enhancing drugs, hitting a major league fastball is difficult. Hitting it well with consistency is even harder, yet Bond kept improving at this throughout his career. The Marlins had the second worst number in all of MLB when it came to homeruns last season with just 120. The best team—the Toronto Blue Jays—had almost twice this with 232. There is a definite need here, and Bonds could bring a unique view to the job and boost numbers. There’s a lot of room for improvement, to be sure.
Being a good coach is very different from being a good player, though, and that’s why this is such a big move for Bonds. He is now moving to a very different career within the sport he once dominated. It’s a bold move by any measure, and there’s a good chance that he will not fare well. Look at all of the former stars that flopped on the other side of the game. Matt Williams is one of the more recent stories. He went from a great hitter at the end of his career to being fired recently as the manager of the Washington Nationals. The Nationals have a ton of talent on their team, but with the implosion of the team midseason, he was canned. Again, being a good player does not equal being a good coach or manager.
That’s why top Miami players like Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour will not and should not have their daily fantasy value spike preseason. There’s potential that they could improve their numbers from last year—27 homers and 23 homers for the 2015 season, respectively—but there’s an equally decent chance that their numbers could drop. Bonds might be of help, but there’s no guarantee that this will happen. It’s a gutsy move by the Marlins, but there’s far more to gain than there is to lose for Miami in this situation. Seeing how these players, and others on the team that have potential to improve, perform in preseason could be a good way to gauge whether improvements have been made or not. It might be tough to tell because of the limited at bats, but if a huge difference is made, it could become apparent even this early.