Don’t let the age or the boyish charm of Michael Brdar fool you. The 28-year old Detroit Tigers hitting coach is already considered a brilliant baseball mind by many close to the game. When Detroit Tigers’ President of Baseball Operations, Scott Harris, took over, he made it a priority to bring Brdar on board, plucking him from the Padres.
Brdar was an infielder for the University of Michigan baseball team in 2017. After graduation, he returned to the Wolverines as an assistant coach in 2018 and 2019 alongside current Tigers pitching Coach, Chris Fetter. He is returning to Michigan with high expectations, but Tigers fans should be excited that he’s the one leading the hitting turnaround.
A bit on (Michael) Brdar
Michael Brdar quickly ascended the coaching ranks after a brief Minor League playing career. At 28 years old, he’s younger than several of the players he’ll be coaching.
During his college days at the University of Michigan, Brdar was a force to be reckoned with at shortstop. He committed just three errors in his senior season and finished with an impressive .969 career fielding percentage. Brdar was named to the All-Big Ten Conference First Team as a senior and earned an ABCA/Rawlings All-Mideast Region second team selection. This came after posting a .310 batting average. He led the Wolverines with 75 hits on the year.
His senior leadership at the plate and in the middle infield helped guide the Wolverines to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.
After college, Brdar was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 36th round of the 2017 draft. His playing career, unfortunately, lasted just one season in the minor leagues. He returned to Michigan as the director of program development in 2018 and a volunteer assistant coach in 2019, again teaming up with Fetter and strengthening their relationship.
The San Francisco Giants, with Scott Harris serving as the general manager, hired Brdar in December 2019 as their assistant hitting coordinator in the minor leagues. One year later, Brdar was promoted to hitting coordinator. Harris became the Tigers’ president of baseball operations in September 2022.
Brdar took his next step in coaching in November 2021. The Padres hired him as their major league hitting coach at age 27.
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After his first talk with the Giants’ minor league hitting coordinator, Padres manager Bob Melvin knew he had found the coach they needed. “I knew 20 minutes into his interview that I had a pretty good sense I was going to hire him,” Melvin said in December. “He blew me away.” The Padres’ offense featured Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim, Jurickson Profar, and Will Myers. Additionally, with trade deadline acquisitions Juan Soto and Brandon Drury, Brdar was tasked with developing stars.
“One of the reasons that we interviewed (Michael Brdar),” Melvin said, “was to see what was going on over there. How they match up, how they’re prepared for pitchers, how they’re prepared for a start or how the guys coming off the bench prepared for a reliever and . . . he was well versed in that.”
During his only year there, Brdar helped the Padres reach the postseason for the first time since 2006. San Diego beat the Dodgers in the National League Division Series and advanced the NL Championship Series. They ended up losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS. In 2022, the Padres ranked eighth in on-base percentage (.318), sixth in walk rate (9.3%), and ninth in strikeout rate (21.5%). They finished sixth in chase rate (30.4%) and fifth in contact rate (78.0%).
The most important stat that Brdar brings from San Diego to Detroit is that the Padres had one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the majors. This dovetails with Tigers new president of baseball operations Scott Harris’ focus on “controlling the strike zone.”
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Brdar’s experience as a player and coach, as well as his familiarity with Harris’ philosophy, bring value to the Tigers’. He brings a fresh perspective and new ideas to the table. Additionally, his role in building a true hitting department will be crucial in turning the team around. He is expected to help the Tigers’ hitters to control the strike zone, which is a key factor to increase their run production.
New Hitting Staff Brings Diversity and Experience
“We’ve worked really hard…on trying to assemble a group that…can really make our players better,” said Scott Harris. Brdar and his coaching team are working to revitalize the Detroit Tigers’ offense, which ranked last in the league in terms of run production. To achieve this, they will be prioritizing the development of strike zone control, in alignment with Scott Harris’ philosophy.
This expansion of the coaching staff is the first in the Tigers’ history. However, it’s similar to the staffs that the San Francisco Giants put together under manager Gabe Kapler and Harris. Moreover, Manager A.J. Hinch believes that the specialties within the coaching staff is crucial for reaching every player in the clubhouse. “I do believe in trying to find various backgrounds, various specialties. I like [staffs where] some played, some didn’t play, some are on the analytical side, some are on the more traditional side…the balance of a staff needs to have a lot of different voices to come from different ways [to reach players],” Hinch said.
Here’s a look at the new members of the Tigers’ hitting staff:
- James Rowson joins the Tigers staff as an assistant hitting coach. This comes after spending the last three seasons as the Miami Marlins’ bench coach under then-manager Don Mattingly. Rowson served as the Minnesota Twins’ hitting coach from 2017-2019. During this time, his Minnesota lineup ranked among the Major League leaders in RBIs and runs scored. They also set an MLB record for home runs in 2019. He served as the Chicago Cubs’ hitting coach in 2012 after two three-year stints with the New York Yankees’. With two decades of experience coaching professional baseball, Rowson brings a wealth of experience to the Tigers.
- Keith Beauregard joins the staff as a third hitting coach. This comes after spending the last four years in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system. The 39-year-old played collegiately at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. He then played independent ball before getting into coaching a decade ago. He’s the latest Tigers hire from the Dodgers’ player development system.
New Perspective and Fresh Approach: The Tigers’ Management’s Vision for the Future
This offseason, the Tigers also announced the addition of former University of Iowa pitching coach Robin Lund. He will work as an assistant pitching coach under Fetter. Lund, a former kinesiology professor, brings a unique perspective to the coaching staff. The Tigers’ management believes that this diverse and experienced team of coaches will bring a fresh perspective. The goal is that a fresh perspective helps take the team to the next level.
Michael Brdar is a young and talented coach who has already made a name for himself in the baseball community. His wealth of knowledge and ability to connect with young players make him a valuable asset to the Detroit Tigers. With a focus on controlling the strike zone, and his dedication to the team’s success, Brdar is poised to make a big impact on the Detroit Tigers’ offense.
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