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Rays Name Derek Shelton As New Hitting Coach

Operation fix B.J. Upton has a new general. The Rays announced 39 year-old Derek Shelton will be the teams new hitting coach. Shelton spent the past five seasons in the same position with the Cleveland Indians.

We've been over the quanitfying of positional coaches and really there is no way to do so, but just some numbers that won't appear in the press release below. From 2006-2009, the four full seasons that Shelton was hitting coach, the Indians averaged 86 sacrifice hits; the Rays had 70 in 2009. A normal Shelton coached lineup strikes out around 19% of the time and walks around 9%. This is pretty much in line with what the Rays have done recently. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how Shelton handles the lineup of free swingers.

Here is the press release from the Rays...

ST. PETERSBURG, FL-The Tampa Bay Rays have named Derek Shelton major league hitting coach.  Shelton, 39, spent the last five seasons as hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians.

"Derek has proven himself to be one of the better minds in baseball when it comes to hitting," Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said.  "He brings a fresh voice that can help our talented core of hitters reach new heights.  His attention to detail and ability to communicate will be great additions to our group."

"I believe he is the kind of coach who can create a hitting program that will benefit the organization both at the minor league and major league levels," said Rays Manager Joe Maddon. "In our conversations, I found that we share the same philosophy on a number of different areas.   He was very clear and concise on his intentions and in the end it was an easy decision."

Shelton was named the Indians hitting coach on June 4, 2005, at the age of 34, replacing Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.  He remained in that role through the end of 2009.  Over his tenure the Indians ranked fifth in the major leagues in runs scored, seventh in batting avg., third in on-base pct., sixth in slugging pct., second in doubles and 10th in home runs.  In each of his first four seasons (2005-08), the Indians offense ranked eighth or higher in the majors in runs scored.  In 2009 they finished 12th.

Shelton spent seven years with the Indians, also serving as hitting coordinator from 2003-05.  Prior to that, he spent six seasons coaching in the New York Yankees organization.  He began his coaching career with the GCL Yankees (Rookie) in 1997 and earned promotions to Tampa (A) in 1998 and Norwich (AA) in 1999.  He then managed three years for the GCL Yankees (2000-01) and Staten Island (Short-Season A; 2002), leading his clubs to first-place finishes in 2000 and 2001 and league championships in 2001 and 2002.

A former catcher, Shelton played two years (1992-93) in the Yankees organization before an elbow injury ended his career.  He graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in criminal justice.  He resides in Tampa with his wife, Alison, and two children, Jackson and Isabella. 

He becomes the sixth hitting coach in club history and the youngest. He follows Steve Henderson (1998, 2006-09), Leon Roberts (1999-2000), Wade Boggs (2001), Milt May (2002) and Lee Elia (2003-05).

 Good luck and welcome Derek Shelton