Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson’s plan to fix offense


Dillon Lawson’s mantra is “hit strikes onerous,” but the Yankees’ new hitting coach is aware of his process requires some deeper digging.

Or actually just a few deeper-hit balls.

In a Zoom information convention Wednesday, his first time talking with the media since he landed this gig, the 36-year-old Lawson revealed the important thing to fixing the offense, which underperformed at a surprising degree in 2021 and compelled the Yankees to dismiss their longtime hitting coach Marcus Thames.

“Once we swing, we wish to swing at strikes,” Lawson stated. “Once we swing at strikes, we’re prone to make extra contact. Once we make extra contact, we’re prone to hit the ball tougher. Once we make onerous contact, if we are able to, we want to hit it over the infield.

“That might be the subsequent layer to easily ‘Hit strikes onerous.’ ”

The 2021 Yankees ranked tenth within the American League with 4.39 runs per recreation regardless of tying the Purple Sox and Twins for the second-best common exit velocity, 89.9 miles per hour (thanks, Baseball Savant). That disparity could be attributed to their proclivity for hitting the ball on the bottom. Their 44.2 p.c ground-ball charge positioned them sixth within the AL, versus eleventh in each fly balls (25.5 p.c) and line drives (23.2). The most important offender amongst regulars? DJ LeMahieu, who hit floor balls 52 p.c of the time when he made contact.

New Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson needs batters to “hit strikes onerous.”
New York Yankees

The principles of Rob Manfred’s lockout forestall Lawson from discussing particular person gamers on the Yankees’ 40-man roster. As an alternative, he spoke usually of the 2021 ground-ball preponderance.

“It’s undoubtedly one thing that we’ll concentrate on, however whether or not it was a difficulty final yr or not, it might nonetheless be a spotlight of ours, as a result of we predict it’s simply going to result in extra success,” he stated. “When you’ve guys that may hit the ball the best way that we do, hitting it over the infield goes to permit for higher outcomes.”

Yankees
Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson speaks throughout a digital press convention on Jan. 26, 2022.
New York Yankees

Whereas serving because the Yankees’ minor league hitting coordinator from 2019 by means of final season, Lawson helped the children rating runs (5.12 runs per recreation, fourth amongst all 30 organizations) whereas slugging (a .404 slugging share, fourth) and getting on base (a .339 on-base share, sixth). In 2021, the Yankees’ collective .253 batting common within the minors put them seventh general.

“Certainly one of our objectives on the minor league degree is to indicate that you would be able to hit for energy and likewise not strike out,” Lawson stated. “Over the course of three years, I feel we’ve made a reasonably good case of with the ability to assist hitters hit for extra energy with out sacrificing contact grade.”

Now he’ll attempt to do the identical on the massive league degree, the place the 2021 Yankees’ woeful .237 batting common positioned them thirteenth within the AL. Lawson stated the Yankees are interviewing replacements for Eric Chavez, who accepted the workforce’s prime assistant job solely to go away to be the Mets’ lead hitting coach (a state of affairs the Yankees knew to be in play). He added that, Chavez’s intensive main league expertise however, that sort of seasoning is “not a very powerful factor” for whoever comes subsequent.

Whereas Lawson can’t talk with any of his main league hitters because of the lockout, he expressed religion that his time within the group already provides him a degree of familiarity with almost everybody. He additionally labored with a number of the hitters in Tampa, on the membership’s minor league complicated, earlier than the lockout started on Dec. 2, he stated. Second baseman Gleyber Torres is among the many Yankees who stay in Tampa.

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