Professional baseball teams are run by a contingent of experts, each having a specific role in the organization. Next to the team manager, a bench coach in MLB performs the most crucial functions in a team’s day-to-day activities.
What is a bench coach in baseball? A bench coach is part of the coaching staff that directly assists the manager in decision-making procedures. He acts as the manager’s right-hand man and is second in command in the team hierarchy.
Bench Coach vs Manager
A typical MLB team will have a team or field manager and coaching staff.
- Manager – The manager is the equivalent of a head coach. He is the key decision-maker for the entire squad and is responsible for organizing training schedules, drafting player line-ups, and formulating in-game strategies.
- Coaches – Directly under the manager is a group of coaches. In most cases, there will be a pitching coach, a bullpen coach, a hitting coach, and a bench coach. Some teams will even have base coaches, such as first-base and third-base coaches.
- Bench coach – All of these titles are self-explanatory, except probably that of the bench coach. No, a bench coach doesn’t just sit on the bench at the dugout and give advice to players during a game. A bench coach does way more than that. So what does a baseball bench coach do?
The Importance of a Bench Coach in Baseball and His Job
Perhaps the best description of a bench coach is that of being the Man Friday and right hand of the team manager. You’ll often see them seated side by side during a game. That’s most likely the reason why the bench coach is sometimes referred to as a bench manager or assistant manager.
If there’s someone who has the undivided attention of the manager as the game transpires, it is the bench coach.
Both the manager and bench coach discuss game tactics and strategies to implement, depending on how the team is faring in the match.
- A bench coach brings along long years of experience studying and observing opponent tactics. As a result, he knows all the strengths and weaknesses of every player on the team, including that which they’re up against.
- A bench coach works directly with the manager to map out the most effective infielder placement based on the batting lineup of the opposing team. He constantly checks player statistics to implement the best offensive and defensive strategies as the game progresses. And he does so in an instant.
- Bench coach duties extend beyond game season into spring training. After conferring with the manager on what needs to be addressed, the bench coach practically does all the leg work in implementing and supervising daily training procedures.
- A bench coach also acts as the middleman between the manager and players. Managers have a plethora of stuff to deal with and can’t be around all the time. The bench coach steps in to take on his role, and most are known to be better communicators than the manager himself.
- Finally, a bench coach assumes the role of the manager in case the latter is ejected, suspended, or can’t make it to the game. Managers can be removed from a game because of unruly conduct, such as getting into heated arguments with the umpire.
What is the Average Bench Coach Salary in Major League Baseball?
On average, MLB bench coaches receive anywhere between $150,000 to $250,000 per season. This is slightly lower than pitching coaches, who may receive up to $350,000 or even more.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do base coaches make in MLB?
Base coaches are paid lower than bench and pitching coaches. Third-base coaches earn around $130,000 to $140,000, while first-base coaches get between $100,000 to $110,000 per season. Bullpen coaches, on the other hand, are paid the lowest among the coaching staff.
Does a bench coach eventually become a baseball manager?
Yes. It is possible for a bench coach to become a manager, such as Matt Quatraro at the Kansas City Royals or Pedro Grifol managing the Chicago White Sox.
Bench coaches are among the best candidates for future managers on the field. Because they work closely with the manager, they are exposed to the ins and outs of running the entire team during the game season and spring training.
It’s also not uncommon for former players or managers to become bench coaches. For example, baseball great Yogi Berra was a bench coach for the New York Yankees in 1976. On the other hand, Don Mattingly, the bench coach Blue Jays pick for 2023, is the latest former player-manager to become one.
When did MLB baseball teams start having a bench coach in their coaching staff?
While many sources on the internet state that the first bench coach appeared as early as the 1900s, it only became standard practice to have one in the 1990s.
If someone comes up to you and asks, “What is a bench coach in baseball?” you now know that he’s not just some guy sitting in the dugout and coaching players on the bench. Rather, a bench coach is a silent worker who, together with the manager, is behind the strategic success of a baseball team.
Every bench coach deserves more accolades and distinction than they’re currently getting. Feel free to share this article with baseball enthusiasts, so they’ll know the importance of the bench coach in a baseball team.
Read more: Reasons why baseball coaches wear uniforms.
A powerful swing and the ball is flying across the field, just one hit, and we might never forget the thrill it brings. I do not know about you, but I never do. Every baseball game is the chance to compete with others and cooperate with your teammate. It is among my biggest passions.