If Long's work with Granderson is successful, Curtis may be the latest addition to the Yankee hitting coach's already impressive resume. I can't recall any hitting coach, never mind one in recent memory, who is given as much credit as Kevin Long.
Long's highest profile patient is Nick Swisher. During this past offseason Swisher worked with Long to get a new swing. Swisher closed his stance, and stopped most of his movement in the box. The end result is a different hitter. In 2009 Swisher hit .249/.371/.496, which was excellent, but his 2010 line of .296/.367/.526 is better. Swisher is less disciplined than he was last year, but his average is improved and his wOBA has gone from .375 to .385, a career high.
Kevin Long's other major success story is Robinson Cano. Cano is currently batting .324/.384/.553, good for a .396 wOBA. While Cano has hit for a higher average in the past, he's never gotten on base this much or hit for so much power. Long has worked with him the past two offseasons to improve his patience at the plate. While the change isn't evident to my eyes, Cano also credits Long with limiting his movement in the box, a common recommendation from the Yankee hitting coach.
The players routinely call Long a genius. They certainly know better than I do, but the ultimate test may be yet to come. If Curtis Granderson's new swing helps him end on a high note then Long may cement his status as the best hitting coach in the game. Long, however, has upped the ante. In the post game interview of his three home run-game Saturday, Alex Rodriguez said that he and Kevin Long may have fixed a problem in A-Rod's hips. The results were certainly there that night. All three of Alex's homers came on fastballs, a pitch he has struggled to punish this year.