Thursday, February 9, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #48 Clint Hurdle

I first became aware of current Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle in 1977. He is tangentially related to a family friend that knew I collected baseball cards, and she gave me a black & white minor league card of Clint when he played with the Waterloo Royals.

The next spring he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a "can't miss" prospect. From the March 20, 1978 edition:

The very mention of Hurdle's name causes heads to bow and heartbeats to quicken. General Manager Joe Burke calls him "one of the top prospects I've seen in the 17 years I've been in the major leagues." John Schuerholz, the director of scouting and player development, says, "I bubble inside when I think about his potential." Batting instructor Charlie Lau, the maestro behind George Brett's bat, considers Hurdle "the best hitting prospect I've ever seen in our organization." Manager Whitey Herzog rates him "the best player in the minors last year." Even Mayberry concedes, "He has the makings of a great player."

Well of course, he missed.... Derailed by a series of injuries... he never came close to the lofty projections. Although he did hit over .400 in the 1980 World Series against the Phillies. What he did do is go on to become an excellent coach, managing the Colorado Rockies for many years, leading them to the NL Pennant in 2007 and as a hitting coach, he helped the 2010 Texas Rangers to the American League Pennant.

His "positive at bat" approach with teaching players is becoming very popular. The concept is simple: Clint Hurdle teaches there are 8 different ways to have a productive AB and he believes that is his team can get 17 positive ABs per game, their chances of winning dramatically improve.

What makes a productive AB?
  1. hit
  2. walk
  3. sac bunt
  4. sac fly
  5. hit by pitch / catchers interference
  6. move lead runner up w/an out
  7. move lead runner up w/an error
  8. making the pitcher throw at least 8 pitches
I am always interested in learning new things with this game, and with the upcoming season approaching, I plan on testing this "positive AB" philosophy.


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