Major league baseball coaches are, relative to those around them, underpaid and misunderstood. Hitting coaches, especially. They are the most convenient employees to scapegoat in all of sports, and picking on them feels cruel.

In the case of the Twins and the Disappearing Bats, though, there isn't much mystery. David Popkins is the Twins hitting coach. The Twins have spent big money on two position-playing stars, in Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa. Both are flailing, and the team ranks 24th in baseball in runs scored.

The Twins are even worse when measured with the eye test. I've never seen a team take more called third strikes on pitches down the middle, an indication that they either have a faulty plan or are guessing at a time in the at-bat when they should be digging in and making contact.

The Twins have ranked near the top of the game in ERA all season, yet are below .500 at the All-Star break. Twins hitters have already taken to holding players-only hitting meetings. It's clear that Popkins' job is in jeopardy. Is it constructive to replace him now?

Well, the New York Yankees, who rank below the Twins in runs scored, fired their hitting coach this weekend.

However they accomplish change, the Twins need to take a different approach at the plate the rest of the season. They all know what they need to do: Set up to hit the ball with authority to the opposite field. Their best hitters are doing just that.

Strangely, their best hitters, among their regulars, currently are rookie second baseman Edouard Julien, injured rookie third baseman Royce Lewis, and journeyman utility player Donovan Solano.

What do they have in common? All three are willing and able to drive the ball to the opposite field.

With the grand exception of the exceptional Harmon Killebrew, every great hitter in Twins history masterfully used the whole field, and hit to the opposite field to break themselves out of slumps. That was the approach of Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Chuck Knoblauch, Paul Molitor and Kirby Puckett.

In conversations with many of them over the years, they've repeated the same hitting verities: You break out of a slump by keeping your hands back, letting the ball "travel" farther before starting your swing. "Trust your hands" and try to rifle line drives either at the pitcher's head or to the opposite field.

Doing so simplifies and corrects faulty mechanics, makes hitting tough pitching somewhat easier and relaxing the body. What we've seen from the 2023 Twins team is too many players trying to pull the ball 500 feet, and swinging and missing by two feet.

If healthy, Lewis will be a star because he's talented and he knows how to hit tough pitching. When Puckett and Molitor weren't smashing line drives, they were hitting bloop or ground-ball singles that kept them out of extended slumps.

"My dad always told me, 'Right field, right field, right field," Lewis said. "He hammered that into my brain every day, and every time I get a hit that way, I feel better about myself and my game. It is like a sign for me that, OK, you know what, I've not been getting a bunch of hits, but when I go to right field, even if it's an out, I'm seeing the ball deeper and I have that much more time in the zone to catch up to it.

"If I catch it in front, it might be a home run. If I catch it late, it's a single to right field. That approach gives me more leeway and space and time to be a better hitter."

Lewis wasn't criticizing Twins coaches or his teammates, just relating his philosophy.

Buxton and Correa should be teaching Lewis how to hit in the majors. Right now, they should be the ones taking notes.