Yankees’ new hitting coach is emphasizing situational hitting in team practices

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Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was a brutal season for the New York Yankees on the offensive side of the ball, scoring the sixth-fewest runs in baseball (673), which could be seen as the biggest reason that they underperformed. With runners in scoring position, the Yankees finished with the third-worst wRC+ (86) and second-worst batting average (.227), ranking only ahead of the Oakland Athletics in that category. It seemed that the Yankees lost confidence in their approach and plan at the plate, and when they fired Dillion Lawson and brought in Sean Casey, that identity didn’t seem to come back.

James Rowson was brought in to mesh the modern approach of a game that has emphasized great swing decisions and quality of contact while also speaking the language that veterans have spoken for years. Communication has been a consistent theme for the Yankees, and Greg Joyce of the New York Post unveiled an emphasis that Rowson is placing on situational hitting.

James Rowson Wants the Yankees to Be Prepared for Hitting Situations

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Tigers assistant hitting coach James Rowson watches a play during the fifth inning against Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park in Detroit on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Aaron Judge made it clear after the 2023 season that the New York Yankees would need to be better at communicating with the players, and a flurry of reports would come out about their issues in that regard. James Rowson is supposed to be a huge difference-maker for the Yankees’ position players on that front, and various players on the team have come out and raved about the difference he’s made. In an article by Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, DJ LeMahieu gave a quote about how the two “speak the same language”, a massive improvement from last year.

Furthermore, the Yankees’ captain would rave about how James Rowson understands the data side of hitting while also blending in the perspective of a hitter in the batter’s box.

“He gets the side of the analytics and the swing mechanics, the biomechanics of your swing, but he also understands game planning and being in the box, and what it means to stand in the box when you’re really facing 98 mph with some sink and a nasty slider.”

– Aaron Judge

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MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Mar 6, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) catches a fly ball during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

James Rowson wants to place an emphasis on scoring runs for the Yankees and having the hitters prepared for situations that have a game-defining impact. If the Yankees want to get to the promised land this upcoming season, they’ll have to come through in those high-leverage moments, and having an identity on offense would certainly go a long way. This is a team full of new faces and young players, and having a tight-knit group that can not only score runs, but continue to trust in their process when things are going poorly is key to their success this season.

The Yankees also hired Aaron Leanhardt to be their Major League Analyst and help relay data-heavy concepts to the players in a way they can understand. His background in coaching while also having a doctorate that he earned at MIT makes him the perfect blend of baseball savvy and analytically driven, and this blend of new voices should optimize a lineup looking to live up to the Bronx Bomber title. It’s a pivotal year for the Yankees, but it seems that their new voices are already making an impact.

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