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Atlanta Braves Want Next Hitting Coach To Help Jason Heyward

The MLB offseason isn't really in full swing yet, but's Mark Bowman has an interesting tweet about the Atlanta Braves' search for a hitting coach to replace Larry Parrish, and how it relates to Braves star Jason Heyward.

#Braves likely to hire hitting coach candidate who best sells them on their ability to help Heyward.

Heyward is widely considered one of baseball's most talented young players, but he regressed from his stellar 2010 rookie season in 2011, losing 50 points of his batting average (.277 to .227) in his sophomore slump. That's worrisome, but Heyward was injured and limited as a result for stretches in 2011, and saw his batting average on balls in play sharply decline; it's not a huge surprise to see his average fall because of that.

But the Braves' main concern might be his plate discipline: in 2011, he struck out almost exactly as often as he did in 2010 on a percentage basis, but he drew 40 fewer walks, and lost almost 80 points of on base percentage (.393 to .319). If that's a result of diminution of the patience and selectiveness that were among the more transcendent skills in Heyward's tantalizing repertoire, the Braves would do well to remedy that decline as soon as possible.

Rebuilding that patience or tweaking Heyward's approach might be the thing necessary to get Heyward back on the road to superstardom. And for the Braves, deciding to cater to one of the few players in baseball who could be the cornerstone of an organization for a decade or more could be a decision that pays dividends.

For more on the Braves and Heyward, head to Talking Chop.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.