Yankees’ hitting coach Marcus Thames analyzes some of the team’ slow starters

Andres Chavez
Feb 23, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) , hitting coach Marcus Thames, and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere (63) at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, much has been written about the New York Yankees’ offensive struggles to open the 2021 season. They have been well-below average in several departments, including runs scored, wRC+, and WAR. Several of the team’s top hitters have been in prolonged slumps, such as Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and others.

In a conversation with ESPN’s Marly Rivera, Yankees’ hitting coach Marcus Thames offered a few thoughts about some of the club’s coldest stars.

LeMahieu, who won the batting title last year with a .364 average, hasn’t actually been bad if we judge him by the most basic stats. He is hitting .275/.359/.377 with a 114 wRC+, but that’s a far cry from the .364/.421/.590 and 176 wRC+ he slashed in 2020.

“He’s trying to do too much,” Thames said about DJ LeMahieu‘s struggles at the plate to start the season. Part of LeMahieu’s issues is that his infield fly ball percentage (15.4%) is the highest of his career, and his 38.9 hard-hit rate is the lowest of his career at least in the Statcast era (since 2015.)

The Yankees expect more from LeMahieu, Gleyber and Stanton

When asked about Gleyber Torres’ diminished power (he only has two extra-base hits, with no homers), Thames said, “when you are chasing power, you chase pitches.” This problem was evident in the Yankees’ shortstop first at-bat on Thursday against Aaron Civale, but fortunately, he hit three singles after that. For Gleyber, the dingers will come.

Regarding Giancarlo Stanton, ‘and the difference between how he performed last postseason and the start of this season, Thames said that it’s all about his pitch selection,’ according to Rivera.

Stanton has punished some balls here or there, but overall, is slashing a meager .158/.238/.333 while striking out a third of the time. He will need to stop chasing and start looking for his pitch, and only then, the Yankees will have their stellar designated hitter all the way back.