CHICAGO -- The White Sox will name Todd Steverson as their new hitting coach after the conclusion of the World Series, a Major League source confirmed on Friday. The White Sox declined comment on the impending hire.
Steverson, who turns 42 on Nov. 15, previously served as Oakland's first-base coach and was a manager and hitting coach in their farm system. The past two seasons, he has served as Oakland's Minor League hitting coordinator. Steverson replaces Jeff Manto, who was relieved of his duties by the White Sox at the end of the 2013 season following two seasons as hitting coach.
In a past interview with the Modesto Bee, Steverson talked about his aggressive philosophy for hitters at the plate.
"You don't want passive hitters. You want people that do know the strike zone and are able to put a good swing on a ball in the strike zone. That's still the philosophy, to swing at strikes," Steverson said. "There's a difference between being on the offense and being on the defense when you are in the box.
"I want all my hitters to be on the offense when they stand in there. And that includes when you get your pitch -- when you get the ball across the plate as a strike -- give it what you got. You don't want to leave home plate saying, 'I could have, should have, would have' or whatever like that. You only get four [at-bats] a day, or how many you get in a week or a month, so you have to go out there and give it all you got every time. Under-control aggression is a good way to put it."
The White Sox finished as the only American League team with fewer than 600 runs scored (598) during a 99-loss season in 2013. They finished 14th in the AL with a .302 on-base percentage and last with 411 walks. The White Sox also sat 14th in OPS and last in OPS+, leaving Steverson with a challenging job ahead, including the molding of young hitters such as Avisail Garcia, Josh Phegley, Conor Gillaspie, Dayan Viciedo and Marcus Semien, to name a few.
That list of youthful talent soon will feature Cuban free agent Jose Abreu, who has agreed to a six-year, $68 million deal with the White Sox.
Working in free passes and getting on base goes hand-in-hand with the take-charge approach espoused by Steverson in that same interview.
"With the 'Moneyball era,' a lot of that philosophy got misunderstood. We just want our hitters to swing at and hit strikes and be able to take walks when they are given to you," Steverson said. "Obviously, high on-base percentage throughout the lineup turns into runs, which turns into wins, if you want to work with that formula.
"At the same time, we were getting our walks in the organization, but we weren't scoring many runs behind it, which means we needed to not only walk and get our on-base percentage up, but we also needed to learn how to drive guys in when need be and not be passive in certain situations where you have to be aggressive. Sometimes you may have to go out of the zone, understanding what a pitcher is trying to do to you.
"Really, the philosophy is wrapped around the knowledge of the game and what a pitcher has to do to be successful," Steverson said. "And once we understand what he has to do to be successful, we can combat that."
Steverson played professionally for seven seasons, including two seasons in the Majors with Detroit (1995) and San Diego ('96). He put together a .256 batting average with two home runs and six RBIs in 31 games, including 30 with the Tigers and one with the Padres. He joined the A's in 2004 as hitting coach for their short-season Class A Vancouver affiliate and was named manager at Class A Stockton in '05, when he guided the Ports to a 78-62 record and playoff appearance.
In 2008, Steverson won the Pacific Coast League championship as manager of Triple-A Sacramento. He began his coaching career in the Cardinals farm system and spent five seasons with Potomac (1999, 2001-02), Peoria ('00) and Palm Beach ('03), all Class A affiliates.