“He pays attention to detail and he treats each hitter individually,” Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters of hitting coach Kevin Long as they battled to the World Series championship together in 2019.
“A lot of times you get caught up on just trying to teach one specific thing. But every hitter is different. And he understands that and he gets the most out of each hitter.”
“He’s been awesome, he really has,” Martinez said. “The big thing with K-Long is he’s very information — information overload. Very on top of everything, and very studious. Gives players, hitters all the information they need. But yet he makes it fun for the boys. They get together in the cage and he’s got all these little things that he does with them to kind of keep them loose and make it fun for them.”
Under Long’s (and assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler’s) watch, the 2020 Nationals finished the 60-game campaign with a combined .264/.336/.433 line, good for 4th/6th/11th among the 30 MLB teams, with their 103 wRC+ 13th in the majors, a .308 BABIP (9th), an 8.7% BB% (17th), 20.3% K% (tied for 2nd lowest), and 293 runs scored (10th), with the club worth +3.2 fWAR (27th or 3rd lowest) at the end of the season.
The Nationals finished the season tied for last in the NL East, however, and battled through a disappointing follow-up to their World Series title, and Martinez, who signed a long-term extension in the final weeks of the season got a chance to choose his own coaches for the first time and made some moves, first parting ways with pitching coach Paul Menhart (who has subsequently been replaced by Martinez’s old friend veteran pitching coach Jim Hickey).
Multiple reports had both bench-turned-third-base coach Chip Hale and Kevin Long moving on as well.
“I understand that Davey, with his extension came the opportunity to kind of revamp his staff and get guys that he wanted,” Hale told Washington Post reporter Jesse Dougherty when the news broke after he served as Martinez’s bench coach (2018-19) and then third base coach (2020).
Long, who came on days after Martinez was first hired in October/November 2017, had his, “three-year deal” expire MLB.com’s Mark Fiensand wrote on Twitter on October 10th, “and he is expected to pursue other options outside of Washington.”
Not so fast...
Feinsand was first to report tonight that Long is actually returning to the Nationals...
In a bit of a reversal, Kevin Long will return to the Nationals as hitting coach after all. Per source, Long gets a one-year deal to come back to Washington, remaining on Davey Martinez's coaching staff.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) October 22, 2020
The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli wrote on Twitter that she had been, “... told earlier this week the split was amicable and the two sides couldn’t agree on a deal,” after Long’s last deal made him, “... among the highest [paid] hitting coaches in the game.”
No word on numbers beyond the fact that Long’s new deal is a one-year deal.
So, barring further changes, Long (hitting), Hickey (pitching), Bob Henley (first base), Henry Blanco (bullpen), Tim Bogar (bench), and Roessler (asst. hitting) will return as the coaching staff in D.C. in 2021, with the third base job still to be filled.