The New York Yankees usually feature one of the best offenses in baseball, but during the 2021 season, they witnessed several inconsistencies that severely damaged their efficiency.
With analytics taking such a tremendous hold on baseball, the Yankees have all but forgotten the batting average, focusing on home runs instead of contact hitting. Interestingly, the Houston Astros ranked first with a .267 average among their batters, reaching the postseason as a result.
As for home runs, the Yankees ranked 6th with 222 but missed the postseason nonetheless. Of course, factors like depth and pitching play significant roles in success, but the Bombers aren’t planning to change their philosophy on hitting anytime soon.
Recently, management promoted Dillon Lawson to their hitting coach spot from the minor leagues. Lawson has had tremendous success developing young talent and conforming them to the Yankees style of play.
His mantra heading into major-league baseball a simple, “hit strikes hard.”
As long as the Yankee batters are hitting strikes hard, they don’t necessarily care about swinging and missing. However, having a good eye is essential for producing home runs, which is what management is looking for.
“We chose that because we feel that it’s accurate to what really good baseball players do, but that it’s also very easy for players to remember,” Lawson said on Wednesday. “If you peel that back just one layer, it’s not that complicated. When we swing, we want to swing at strikes.
“When we swing at strikes, we’re likely to make more contact. When we make more contact, we’re likely to hit the ball harder. When we make hard contact, we would like to hit it over the infield. Sometimes we would like to hit it over the outfield fence. All of that works.”
Lawson served as the Yankees’ minor-league hitting coordinator for the past three seasons, and with general manager Brian Cashman expected to be aggressive when the lockout ends, he might get a few new shiny toys to play with this upcoming season.
The Yankees have been connected to a myriad of different sluggers, including Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, Carlos Correa, and even Matt Chapman in a prospective deal with the Oakland Athletics.
Cashman only has so much money to spend, though, especially with Aaron Judge’s massive contract coming up in the near future. Lawson is replacing Marcus Thames, whose contract expired in October.
The front office originally brought in Eric Chavez to lead the hitting department, but he eventually got out of Dodge and took the 7 train over to Queens, joining the Mets and their newly situated coaching staff.
Nonetheless, the Yankees have all the faith in the world in Lawson, who has grown from within.