Marcus Thames is the 44-year-old New York Yankee’s hitting coach. He is a former left fielder and DH for the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thames is much in the conversation lately due to the Yankees’ lack of hitting this season. Some are calling for his removal as he doesn’t seem to be able to solve the problem.
At the beginning of the season, it appeared that the Yankees had one of the best and most powerful lineups in baseball. This is an era of launch angles and the home run. And the Yankee lineup was loaded with home run hitters. Giancarlo Stanton has hit as many as 59, Aaron Judge 52, Gleyber Torres 38, Gary Sanchez 34, DJ LeMahieu 26, and Brett Gardner 28 in a given season. This year the Yankees have hit just 65 home runs across the Yankees 17 hitters. That is on track to hit about 60 home runs fewer than the 2019 season.
So far the New York Yankees rank fourth-worst in the majors in runs scored per game, 15th in home runs, and 24th in slugging percentage. The Yankees across the board are not hitting except for Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees are 4.5 games behind the East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, and 2.5 games behind the second-place Boston Red Sox. The only reason they are not at the bottom of the division is stellar pitching. But it’s the lack of hitting that is holding them back from advancing in the standings.
Thames has been the Yankee’s hitting coach since the beginning of the 2018 season, previous to that he was the assistant hitting coach. He pretty much breezed through his first three years when the New York Yankees won 100 games in 2019 103 games. But the Yankees began to show hitting inconsistencies in 2020. But in 2021 it seems like that powerful lineup that was supposed to propel the Yankees to the World Series lacks hitting so badly that they are scoring just 3.74 runs a game compared to 5.25 over the previous three years. In most games the score 3 or fewer runs per game.
From the beginning of the season Thames has had his hands full trying to get the team right. So far he has failed to right the ship. It’s not from lack of work, he spends every day and night trying to improve his team’s hitting.
“Look at my eyes, I’ve got bags under them,” Thames said Tuesday before the Yankees-Rays’ game at Yankee Stadium. “I don’t sleep. I tell the guys all the time, ‘I’m in every single pitch (with you) from pitch number one to the last pitch of the game.’ You feel it because you know how hard they’re working and how much preparation they’re doing.”
“Of course, it wears on you a little bit. But that’s what we signed up for. When you sign up to be the hitting coach here in New York, it comes with the territory when guys are struggling. You hear a lot of heat.”
“I know that what this team is capable of and it’s just hard to put a finger on certain things,” Thames said. “We’ll be close (to breaking out) and then we’ll take a step back. We just have to be consistent. I just feel like we can’t put pressure on ourselves. Just go out and play. I told the guys the other day, some days it looks like they’re not having fun. They’ve got to go have fun and let the game slow down a little bit, and then we can get back to where we need to be.”
Manager Aaron Boone and praised Thames for the work he is doing and believes it will turn around. But so far that is not case, they may have to take a different approach or even find a new hitting coach to shake up the team. Thames claims it has nothing to do with analytics saying it’s on him and the hitters.
Nineteen years ago Macus Thames (pronounced Tims) made his major league debut. He has a lifetime batting average of .246 with 115 home runs and 301 runs batted in. His claim to fame is that while with the Detroit Tigers he hit eight home runs in a seven-game stretch from June 11 to 17, 2008, becoming the first Tiger in team history to achieve that feat. During that streak, eight consecutive hits were home runs.
Thames coaching career began in 2013 when he was named hitting coach of the New York Yankees advanced A Tampa Tarpons. In 2014 he was promoted to hitting coach of the double A Trenton Thunder. Before the 2015 season he was considered for the job of assistant hitting coach for the Yankees but he ultimately was named hitting coach for the Yankees triple A Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. In 2016 he he was named the Yankees assistant hitting coach and became the hitting coach in 2018. More recently he was interviewed for the job of Manager of his old team, the Detroit Tigers. That job ultimately went to Tony La Russa.