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What is a Quality Control Coach?

Mike Aldrete takes over the job, which was once held by Mark Kotsay

Los Angeles Angels vs Oakland Athletics
Mike Aldrete
Set Number: X163728 TK1

The Oakland A’s shuffled their coaching staff for 2022, under first-year manager Mark Kotsay. A couple new names joined the group, while a few familiar faces moved to different roles.

Among the holdovers, Mike Aldrete is sticking around for his eighth year on the staff, and he’s switching from first base coach to a job called “Quality Control coach.”

Sweet! But hold on though. What’s a Quality Control coach?

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this title used in Oakland. Kotsay held the position from 2018-20, though it remained vacant in 2021.

It’s also not a new term in sports overall. In the NFL, teams have a QCC who helps them prepare for games by studying film of upcoming opponents. It’s an “entry-level position” in football, considered something of an apprenticeship for new coaches looking to gain experience and climb up the ladder.

The baseball version appears to follow a similar concept. The Blue Jays hired a Quality Control coach in 2017, Derek Shelton, and the National Post described the job like this at the time:

The QC coach is an advance planner who tries to ensure quality output with quality input. That appears to involve helping players prepare for games and addresses the need for front offices to have the work of their burgeoning analytics departments implemented properly by the players and coaches.

[The QCC] will be the conduit for the advanced scouting, whether it comes from human scouts or the analytics department. He said he will work with the coaching staff on consuming that information and will also have a role to play in delivering it to the players.

“As you well know, the game has changed where there’s a lot of information coming in from different areas, and I think part of my role will be getting that information, breaking it down, so it’s more suitable for the players, so it’s … very poignant to the individual player,” [said Shelton in an interview with Sportsnet 590].

More recently, and more locally, A’s insider Martin Gallegos offered this breakdown earlier in January:

It’s similar to a bench coach in that it’s a right-hand man to the manager. A lot of pregame prep work by delivering data and other information to the players. Sometimes involved with the guys in the video room on challenge decisions. Kotsay had that role before last year.

The duties appear to be in the same ballpark as the football version, serving as something of an advance scout and data liaison. The baseball job might be a bit higher up the chain than entry-level, as Shelton had been an MLB hitting coach for more than a decade already, and Kotsay had previously served as Oakland’s bench coach, but Quality Control did lead to bigger things for both of them — Shelton now manages the Pirates, and Kotsay just took over the A’s dugout.

As for Aldrete, he’s also not new to the coaching ranks. This will be his 18th season in the majors in various roles, eight of them here in Oakland, plus some more work in the minors. He got his start with the Mariners in 2004 under Bob Melvin, then followed Melvin to the D’Backs, then went to the Cardinals for a while (and won a ring in 2011), and finally reunited with Melvin in the Bay Area, where he’s staying now even though Melvin has left for San Diego. His resume:

  • 2004: Mariners, 1B coach
  • 2005-06: D’Backs, hitting coach
  • 2008-11: Cardinals, assistant hitting coach
  • 2012-14: Cardinals, bench coach
  • 2015: A’s, bench coach
  • 2016-17: A’s, 1B coach and outfield coach
  • 2018-19: A’s, assistant hitting coach
  • 2020-21: A’s, 1B coach
  • 2022: A’s, quality control coach

On top of that experience, he played a decade in the majors. He debuted with the Giants in 1986 and spent several years as a solid lefty bench bat with them and later the Expos, getting on base at the plate and playing mostly first base and corner outfield on defense. In 1993 he joined the A’s, chipping in an above-average batting line over three summers (in 231 games):

  • Aldrete, OAK: .260/.344/.407, 104 wRC+, 18 HR, 11.4% BB, 16.1% Ks

He also briefly played for the Padres, Angels, Yankees, and Cleveland, and posted a 105 wRC+ in around 2,500 career plate appearances over 930 games. He won a ring with New York in 1996, though he was retired on a groundout in his lone pinch-hitting appearance in the World Series.

That’s quite a lot of quality! Definitely not entry-level. In fact, he’s the oldest he’s the least young he’s the most heavily age-equipped coach on Oakland’s staff, turning 61 on Saturday. (Happy birthday!)

As a neat bonus, Aldrete is a local California product, who was born in Carmel, went to high school in Monterey, and played college ball at Stanford, before going on to play three years apiece for both Bay Area teams in the majors. His son Michael Aldrete was drafted by the Cardinals in 2012 and played two seasons in their farm system, and his nephew Carter Aldrete was drafted by the Giants in 2019 and played 2021 with their High-A affiliate as an infielder.

That whole package makes him an excellent presence to keep for rookie skipper Kotsay’s new staff, and his wide breadth of experience makes him a sensible pick for a sorta second bench coach job. He’s been in the majors forever, as a player and in a few different coaching roles, and he’s plenty familiar with Oakland’s organization after so much time here. And in true A’s fashion, he’s shown versatility, as this is his fifth different title in eight years after bench, 1B, outfield, and assistant hitting.

Welcome back, Aldrete! Athletics Nation looks forward to watching you control some quality in 2022.