Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson on offensive struggles: ‘I really don’t give a s— where we rank’

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May 11, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts after striking out to end the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Viewing the Yankees with an optimistic lens can’t conceal the reality that the team’s offense has been notably weak of late. Despite pervasive injuries and inconsistencies troubling the roster, the Yankees find themselves lagging significantly in the AL East as of mid-May.

Such a predicament could spell doom for some teams, but the Yankees possess sufficient talent to extricate themselves from this rut.

Nevertheless, rebounding from this dreadful start will demand an extraordinary effort, something that won’t be feasible if the team continues to lose players to injury. The return of Giancarlo Stanton in the coming weeks and hopefully, a peak performance from Aaron Judge, could make a significant difference. However, if these factors fail to rejuvenate the team, General Manager Brian Cashman will face far more substantial issues than the ones he’s currently attempting to resolve.

Many had hoped that Judge could replicate his record-breaking 2022 campaign, but that appears to be a formidable challenge. The 31-year-old outfielder is currently batting .262 with a .352 OBP and six home runs across 29 games.

While these stats are by no means poor, they fall short of reflecting his .311 average, .425 OBP, and 207 wRC+ from the previous year. The season is still young, and Judge could experience a remarkable hot streak, but given his recent hip injury and the team’s apparent lack of confidence, they desperately need a catalyst. In reality, even an outstanding performance from Harrison Bader can’t push the Yankees to the top. They need the entire team to display strong at-bats with superior plate discipline.

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The Yankees’ offense is not stepping up to the plate:

Regrettably, the team’s hitting has been uninspiring at the start of the year, ranking 24th in batting average at .232 and 23rd in on-base percentage at .304.

Hitting coach Dillon Lawson adheres to the philosophy of “hit strikes hard,” but the reality is the Yankees haven’t been doing that effectively. They currently rank 15th in slugging percentage and 18th in OPS. Lawson has stated his indifference towards rankings and his focus on winning games, but the team’s pitching has more than compensated for their minor deficits.

“We care about winning games. I really don’t give a s— where we rank in offensive stats as long as we’re scoring enough runs to win games. We played the No. 1 team (Tampa) and went toe-to-toe with them. Some could argue that we could have gotten swept. Other people could say we should’ve swept them. You know which side I stand on. I’m not concerned. We have to do enough to win games. Where we rank is of no concern of mine, whether it’s one or 30, as long as we win the game.”

Via Chris Kirschner, The Athletic.

Despite a skewed final score on Thursday, the Yankees reached the 6th inning with no runs, and Tampa maintained a slim lead. The Bombers have had numerous opportunities but haven’t succeeded in converting with runners in scoring position.

Overpowering a struggling Oakland Athletics team is satisfactory but masks a far more significant problem. The Yankees struggle against competent pitching. Drew Rasmussen of the Tampa Bay Rays pitched for 7.0 innings on Thursday night, striking out seven batters and allowing only two hits. Impressively, he threw just 76 pitches, reducing his ERA to 2.62 for the year.

Indeed, the Yankees haven’t managed a single run off Rasmussen this year over 12.2 innings, garnering only four hits and striking out 13 times. The last top-tier pitcher the Yankees competed against was Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians nine days ago.

Bieber held out for 8.0 innings, delivering 93 pitches and surrendering two earned runs. Two runs won’t secure any victories for the Yankees, implying that the team requires more proficient hitters and timely output from their high-priced talent.

Indeed, the Yankees can’t perpetually shield themselves with the injury narrative, given that this situation has been evolving for a decade.

At some juncture, Cashman needs his high-profile acquisitions to prove their worth, especially considering his most recent addition, Carlos Rodon, has already been diagnosed with a chronic back issue, rendering his $162 million contract seemingly wasteful.

Yet, the Yankees’ struggles haven’t stemmed from inadequate pitching, but rather from poor roster composition and a deficiency of reliable hitters in high-pressure situations. Lawson’s response appeared defensive rather than constructive as if he was guarding his confidence and strategy.

In truth, a team’s offensive rankings have a direct correlation with run production and game victories, rendering his entire statement contradictory.