Tracy Ringolsby, Baseball America
December 7, 2005
DALLAS--If you want to know what makes Rudy Jaramillo
a great coach, you donít go to Rudy Jaramillo; you go to
Or better yet, go to the record book and look up his
Since Jaramillo took over as the Rangers batting
coach for the 1995 season, Rangers hitters have
accounted for four of the American League's 11 MVP award
winners. They have 16 Silver Slugger awards, three home
run titles, two RBI championships and a batting title.
In 2005, the Rangers came within four homers of the
all-time team record for a season.
Since Jaramillo took over, the Rangers are one of
three teams in baseball to rank in the top five in the
three major offensive categories: They are first in
homers, fifth in runs and fifth in average.
The numbers speak for themselves. What the numbers
say with blunt, raw data, the hitters say in much more
"Whenever I do something at the plate, I donít feel
so much that I did it, but that 'we' did it," said
shortstop Michael Young, the 2005 AL batting champ. "He
is the best and most loyal coach Iíve ever been around.
He has an innate ability to know what makes players go."
long line of accomplishments by his players--and his
players' steadfast belief in his approach--is what makes
Jaramillo Baseball Americaís first Major League Coach of
the Year. The accomplishments arenít what make him a
great coach, though. Itís his methods, which are simple,
plain and genuine as the man preaching them.
"Itís a big honor to be recognized this way,"
Jaramillo said. "But the most important part is the
players. Iíve been blessed to be around great athletes
and I just try to help them get the most out of
In many ways, Jaramilloís philosophy on coaching is
the same as his philosophy on life.
Work hard. Speak clearly and in plain language (and
he can speak clearly in two languages). Be loyal.
Believe in others as much as you would in yourself. Be
willing to take chances on the underdogs.
It helped propel Jaramillo, now 55, out of Dallasí
tough Oak Cliff neighborhood and onto the University of
Texas baseball team. The work ethic, more than pure
talent, got him a four-year minor league stint in the
His belief in himself--and the underdog--led him to
talk his way into a coaching job at the very bottom rung
of the Rangersí farm system, where the pay was
miniscule. In 1983, it didnít matter: Rudy Jaramillo was
coaching hitting. Heís never stopped.
Heís about to begin his 12th consecutive season
guiding Rangers hitters, tying him for fourth among all
major league coaches for consecutive service to one
team. Heís survived an ownership change, two GM switches
and, amazingly, heís now working for his third different
manager with the Rangers.
The reason heís stuck through all that change is that
he loves hitting, lives to teach it and he gets results.
Even now, during the winter, the highest-paid hitting
instructor in the game takes private lessons with
Dallas-area kids. He produced a DVD on his approach to
hitting. Heís willing to talk about it to anyone at
anytime. And the amazing thing is he talks it in such
simple terms anybody can understand it.
"He doesnít try to cookie-cut your swing," said
Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira, who has seen his
season home run totals progress from 26 to 38 to 43 in
his three seasons with Jaramillo. "He learns your swing
and adapts his philosophies to your swing. At this
point, Rudy knows my swing better than I do.
"Whenever something is not right, heís able to adjust
me mentally and physically very quickly because
everything is so easy to understand."
There is truth to that statement. Jaramilloís career
is full of success projects who have anything but a
He was squatty Jeff Bagwellís first major league
hitting instructor in Houston and Bagwell often says
Jaramillo paved the way for him to become a major power
threat. When he left Houston after four seasons and
returned to the Rangers, he inherited Mickey Tettletonís
quirky close-to-the-body swing and the mystery that was
the unlocked power in Lee Stevensí bat. Both resurrected
their careers with the Rangers.
He also got moody Juan Gonzalez to produce numbers
like he never produced before or after. And Ivan
Rodriguez morphed from a catcher with lightning in his
arm to a hitter with thunder in his bat.
And there are plenty of other more recent success
stories, including Gary Matthews Jr., Rod Barajas and
David Dellucci. All three were considered marginal
offensive players at best with other clubs, but have
risen to new heights with Jaramillo.
Jaramillo has developed five keys to help hitters,
whether they are 9 or 25: rhythm; see the ball; separate
your hands; stay square; shift weight. Essentially it
comes down to two key components: Separation and
recognition. Or in even simpler terms: See the ball, hit
"All it is about is timing and improving your odds,"
Jaramillo said. "If you put the work in and develop the
muscle memory, you donít have to think up there. You are
in a good position to hit whatever is thrown. You work
hard and when the game begins, itís there for you."
By preaching proper separation of the upper and lower
body, Jaramillo gets hitters in a better hitting
position earlier. It keeps them from lunging for balls
and it gives them a fraction of a second more to
recognize the pitch. An extra fraction of a second in
the big leagues can make all the difference between
fouling a ball off or driving it into the gaps.
Perhaps the best example of how well the approach
works is Young. In 2001, he was coming off a rookie year
in which he dazzled with his glove at second base, but
otherwise didnít impress incoming GM John Hart. He hit
just .249 and struck out every 4.24 at-bats.
While manager Jerry Narron and Jaramillo insisted
Young would develop into an adequate or better hitter,
Hart was unimpressed. But the manager and coach won the
battle and Young has been improving ever since. He
jumped to .262 in 2002, to .306 in 2003 and to .313 in
2004. Last season, he became the first Ranger since
Julio Franco in 1991 to capture the batting title. He
hit .331 with a league best (and Ranger record) 221
hits. It was his third consecutive 200-hit season.
"Having Rudy in my corner was huge," Young said. "As
much as I believed in myself and thought I had
confidence, knowing that he believed in me too really
helped. He always told me what I could do.
"Now itís to the point of being second nature. But
heís still the first guy I see in the clubhouse every
day and we go over my approach. Weíre so much on the
same page; itís a lot of help."
Itís not just that they are on the same page
philosophically. The philosophy, combined with the
talent, has turned Michael Young into one of the most
complete hitters in the AL.
Heís the just the latest example of a player who has
maximized his talent while working with Jaramillo. But
the list is pages long.
Those successes, more than any honors, are what make
Jaramillo the best coach in the major leagues.
is posted here, in its entirety on www.rudyjaramillo.com
with approval from Baseball America.
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