The New York Yankees, in a prompt response to their Sunday afternoon loss against the Chicago Cubs, have dismissed their hitting coach, Dillon Lawson. This decision comes as a surprise since there had been no hint of such drastic changes from the organization. However, the team’s offense has been faltering considerably, making it almost necessary to implement changes. Unfortunately, Lawson became the fall guy.
Dismal Performance from Seasoned Players
What is particularly perplexing is the underperformance from some of the Yankees’ traditionally productive players like DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton. LeMahieu, this season, has been a far cry from his usual form, with even his 2022 performance, which was affected by a late-season toe injury, outshining his current statistics. The 34-year-old utilityman has posted a mere .220 average with a .285 OBP this year, which includes seven home runs and 27 RBIs.
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Poor Offensive Metrics: Need for Change
With the Yankees’ offense floundering near the bottom in terms of hits, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage, and virtually every metric concerning runners in scoring position, a shakeup was due. Whether the league has simply decoded the Yankees’ home run-centric strategy or the team has been plagued by bad luck and injuries, the organization had to pin the blame somewhere. Lawson became the fall guy for what could potentially be a much deeper issue.
However, it’s fair to note that Lawson provided some wayward comments to the media. Where you rank directly correlates with offensive production, but he didn’t seem to care about that.
“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.””
Cashman’s Strategy for the New Hitting Coach
General Manager Brian Cashman hinted at recruiting the next hitting coach from outside the organization. The preferred targets could be from teams like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Atlanta Braves, known for their modernized approach that prioritizes on-base percentage, balancing slugging with contact. The Yankees’ previous principle of “hit strikes hard” led to an exponential rise in their strikeout rates and a sharp decline in their walk rates.
Adopting a Balanced Approach
Playing small ball can be an effective strategy to get on base and generate runs. The Yankees have an arsenal of sluggers who could employ their old approach, but they also have a considerable number of contact hitters. Trying to force these diverse styles into a single mold is a flawed strategy. The better approach would be to tailor strategies according to each player’s strength, be it slugging or contact.
As the team moves forward, it will be interesting to see whether they lean towards heavy analytics or favor a former player with a connection to the organization. The position of the Yankees’ hitting coach is highly coveted in baseball, and there should be no shortage of options for the franchise. An announcement of the new appointment can be expected within the next few days.