Jason Heyward, left congratulates Cubs teammate Kyle Schwarber.

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Bernstein: Anthony Iapoce's In A Great Spot

Regardless of any hitting coach's advice, the Cubs are due for a bounce-back in 2019.

Dan Bernstein
October 16, 2018 - 2:44 pm

(670 The Score) ​Big league hitting coaches may matter and they may not, sometimes both at the same time. If you were to randomly redistribute all 30 across baseball, the results would likely balance out as some players on each roster make marginal improvements, some have marginal drop-offs and everybody else remains pretty much the same.

Even if we accept that premise, however, they still continue to get too much credit for success and blame for failure.

It was the latter for Chili Davis after a flaccid offensive performance for the Cubs in 2018 was ultimately pinned enough on him by Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who launched Davis after the end-of-season exit interviews, with sources telling 670 The Score that at least six significant players expressed dissatisfaction with either the methods or philosophies of the instruction they received. Because they're the customers in this relationship, a move was necessitated.

So in comes old friend Anthony Iapoce, one of those who shepherded much of this group as the overseer of the Cubs' minor league hitting program from 2013-'15. He had been the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers and arrives at just the right time -- certainly for him and potentially for the Cubs.

Think of this from his perspective and through the lens of how we evaluate the job that gets done. Here Iapoce was in an uncertain spot after the Rangers' firing of Jeff Banister, told that he was allowed to entertain offers while in professional limbo before a new manager was found. Now instead of twisting in the wind, he gets to join a contender with a lineup ripe for a dead-cat bounce.

Simple regression to players being themselves is likely to be in order even if Epstein named a potted plant to the position, and we'd be reading columns entitled "Jimmy the Juniper Tree Connecting With Cubs' Young Stars" that discuss how comfortable everybody is. It's another way of saying the role of not being Chili Davis is one that anyone other than Davis could fill.

But let's say Iapoce is also good on his own merits and can be the quasi-therapist that gets Ian Happ, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber in just the right head space. He inherits veteran self-starters in Ben Zobrist, Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward and an ascending Javier Baez, and he also will benefit from a version of Kris Bryant that's recovered from a debilitating shoulder injury and seemingly ready to snap back to MVP form.

Launch angle is good, and it's coming back to the Cubs, and there's every reason to believe that it will be reflected in their run creation after a 2018 season that was probably an anomaly that had so many players underperform their talent and established expectations. With our judgments of the quality of his work made after the fact, this sets up really well for Anthony Iapoce, who's quite likely to either be or appear to be a big success.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​​​​​​​