The Philadelphia Phillies have hired Joe Dillon as their hitting coach on Thursday, as first reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury.
Dillon comes via the Phillies’ NL East-rival, the Washington Nationals, where he spent two seasons bringing a new-age approach to the team’s offense as an assistant under hitting coach Kevin Long.
Long’s recommendations to new Phillies manager Joe Girardi — the two worked together with the New York Yankees — is believed to play a key role in this hiring, which completes Girardi’s staff.
Long has gone on record saying that Dillon is “the best assistant in baseball.”
Dillon’s presence within Washington’s clubhouse helped the Nationals finish sixth in offense in 2019 while averaging 5.39 runs per game.
Most notably, however, he was a part of a team that won a World Series title last month, defeating the Houston Astros in seven games.
The 44-year-old has worked with some of the game’s best hitters while in Washington.
He helped Juan Soto develop into a premier young hitter, coming off a sophomore campaign in which he slashed .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs and 110 RBI.
Anthony Rendon also had a career year under Long and Dillon in 2019 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 126 RBI and 44 doubles. He finished third in the NL MVP voting.
Dillon will also have an opportunity to reunite with Bryce Harper as the two worked together during the 2018 season.
During his playing days, Dillon spent 12 years in professional baseball, including four in the majors with the Marlins, Brewers, and Rays.
Before joining the Nationals, he was the organization’s triple-A hitting coach before spending two years as the Marlins’ minor-league hitting coordinator.
The hiring of Dillon is further evidence that the Phillies are investing in analytically-driven coaching.
Dillon has put stress on getting his batters to put the ball in the air and work on their launch angle in the process.
That bodes well within a baseball landscape that saw home runs hit at a record pace in 2019.
However, the Phillies hit just 215 home runs in a season that saw 6,776 round-trippers hit. That had them ranked 22nd in the majors while the offense averaged 4.78 runs per game — just below the league average.
Those are subpar numbers for a lineup that boasts the likes of Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and JT Realmuto in a hitter-friendly ballpark such as Citizens Bank.
It led to the firing of hitting coach John Mallee in August. The Phillies finished the season with former manager Charlie Manuel at the hitting-coach position.