Kevin Long was a hot name when a number of managerial openings popped open recently.
That made perfect sense.
Long, the highly-successful hitting coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, completed a stellar season. Without Long, it’s likely that the Phillies wouldn’t have advanced to the World Series.
The 55-year-old California-native previously won World Series titles with the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals. He nearly captured a third after the Phillies came up two wins short against the Houston Astros.
Not long after the World Series, the Phillies agreed to a two-year contract extension with Long to remain as their hitting coach.
Long finished his first season with the Phillies after successful stints with the Yankees (2007-14), New York Mets (2015-17) and Nationals (2018-21).
While the Phillies certainly had their issues with strikeouts, there was also improvement across the board.
Kyle Schwarber, for instance, ripped a career-high 46 home runs and knocked in 94 runs.
When Joe Girardi was fired and Rob Thomson took over, Long was a steadying influence on the hitters.
And that development shone through over the course of the season as the Phillies advanced to the World Series for the first time since 2009.
For more proof, look at a player like Edmundo Sosa. When Sosa was acquired by the Phillies, he was struggling mightily at the plate.
Sosa hit .189 in 53 games with the St. Louis Cardinals.
He hit .315 in 25 games with the Phillies.
Quite a difference.
“He’s positive,” Sosa said of Long to the Philadelphia Inquirer in September. “Always positive. We have fun. St. Louis was fun too. We all worked hard, but that’s in the past. I feel that we’re on the same page here. And we’re working together well.
“The hitting coach in St. Louis [Jeff Albert] helped me a lot in my career, but I feel like what I’m working on with Kevin is working super well. So I have to keep following his workouts, his drills and what he stresses the most: to believe in the routine that he’s got for me.”
The routine clearly worked.
Now that the players are comfortable with Long, look for more improvement in 2023 and beyond, especially with Trea Turner on the way to solidify the top of the lineup.
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