Pirates Name Jeff Branson the New Hitting Coach

The Pittsburgh Pirates have named Jeff Branson their new hitting coach, per a team press release. They have also added Jeff Livesey to the Major League staff as a coach.

Branson was the assistant hitting coach last year, working with Jay Bell. The hitting coach position became available when Bell joined the Cincinnati Reds as a bench coach. Prior to the 2013 season, Branson had spent 12 years in the Pirates’ organization, including serving as the hitting coach for Indianapolis from 2009-2012.

Livesey has spent the last three seasons working as the Minor League Hitting Coordinator for the Pirates. He has spent 11 seasons total in the Pirates’ minor league system. It’s likely that Livesey is replacing Branson as the assistant hitting coach.

  • To make an analogy, professional golfers like Tiger Woods regularly employ high priced private coaches to analyze and correct their swings. In fact Tiger completely rebuilt his swing after a number of successful years on the tour. So things can get out of whack for even the most elite and accomplished athletes.

    I think the Pirates need to employ a better skilled base stealing coach, at least for Spring training clinics if not for the full year. Their speedier players look inadequately trained when trying to steal, and the caught stealing rates are higher than they should be given their raw speed. This has to be chalked up to inadequate technique. In Cutch’s case I think this results in a lack of confidence and he simply doesn’t attempt as many steals as he should. Both he and Marte have the speed tools to steal 50 + bases per year if their lead taking, pitch to the plate recognition and first three steps improved. In Marte’s case he needs better recognition abilities to choose the best pitches to run on. With Polance and Hanson soon to arrive base stealing could become on of the Pirates greatest strategic advantages. They should become the best base stealing team in MLB.

  • What impact do hitting coaches really have? I feel like pitching coaches can make all the difference in the world with their slight adjustments but hitters sort of are what they are after a while. Not to discount this update at all. I just feel that often people rip the hitting coaches when the hitters don’t change their colors it seems. Just my opinion.

    • I think he has to be able to make suggestions to hitters if they are struggling. He, in conjunction with the video coordinator, need to see what adjustments need to be made or revert back to a previous habits. Corrected me if I’m wrong, but I thought the bunting improved this year over last. Does Jay Bell deserve credit?

    • You learn hitting from a young age as you progress in life from one level to another. Once you get to the majors you are considered an accomplished hitter to a very high degree. You need a hitting coach for the very simple reason that anyone can develop bad habits for a myriad of reason. You need a hitting coach for the same reason you need a pitching coach.