He wasn’t their big league hitting coach, but Todd Steverson had a critical role with the Oakland A’s before the White Sox hired him last month.
As the team’s minor-league hitting coordinator from 2012-13, Steverson had a major impact on the organization because of his hands-on experience with numerous players throughout the farm system. The White Sox appreciated that part of his resume because they sought someone who were important to organizations that general manager Rick Hahn and the front office have come to admire. After they unearthed Steverson from a group of 16-17 candidates, the A’s admit they expect it won’t be easy to find a substitute.
“He’s going to be hard to replace,” Oakland A’s assistant GM Dave Forst said. “He had a huge impact on players throughout the system as long as he was with us. Certainly there’s a void now that needs to be filled.”
Steverson worked at almost every level in his 10 seasons with the A’s. He managed at Triple-A, worked as the roving coordinator and also spent two seasons as the A’s first-base coach on manager Bob Geren’s staff.
The White Sox believe Steverson’s ability to connect with players of all ages and levels should help him work with their hitters. Steverson also believes that experience will serve him well. He also knows while the language may be different there are universal truths to hitting when it comes to mindset.
“I had 75 to 100 hitters under my belt as hitting coordinator,” Steverson said last month. “A struggling player or offense, most of the time its a mindset of how you feel about yourself and go about your day. If you get your confidence as you perform your job and understand it, it’s a lot easier. Struggling through the course of the year becomes mental.”
When the White Sox have matched up with the A’s the past two seasons, manager Robin Ventura often talks about how Oakland’s hitters bring a great approach to the plate. They make pitchers work and seem ready to hit when their pitch arrives. He wants to import some of that to his club, which finished last season with a .302 on-base percentage, it’s lowest since the pitcher’s mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 in 1969.
“They don't go out and sign the top guy every year but yet they are very accomplished at putting together a good offense and approach,” Ventura said. “Todd has been through that through the minor leagues, at the major league level and managing at Triple-A level. You find things you like around the league hopefully you can bring some of that back to your team.”
Though clubs are pleased when their minor-league coaches are promoted to major league positions, the A’s would like nothing more than to bring back Steverson to their organization.
“He was able to touch everyone from first-year guys up to Triple-A,” Forst said. “He spent a year with our big league club. He’s got experience with players at every level. He clearly has a passion for what he’s doing and hitting and I’m sure that will come across. … Todd in the role he had the last two years was a huge part of our system. But you ultimately know that those guys want to be in the majors leagues so I’m happy for him that he got the job.”