Monday, January 24, 2022

Dillon Lawson’s Yankees hitting philosophy: Hit strikes hard

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The Yankees were particularly quiet in the first month of the season, adding almost nothing to their Premier League roster.

However, the team is busy filling the coaching staff – especially the offensive side.

Dillon Lawson has risen from coordinator of minor league strikes to Yankee strike coaching. He will be joined by two new assistant coaches: Eric Chavez (who played for the Yankees and worked in the front office under CEO Brian Cashman) and Casey Dykes (Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barr’s shot last season).

So the Yankees are familiar with the new additions that will replace Marcus Thames and PJ Pilittere.

Their minor league branches have performed well throughout the system, and players, including two of the Yankees ’best prospects – Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza – are well developed.

New head coach Dillon Lawson (center) is accused of bringing Gary Sanchez (left) and Glaiber Torres back on the road.

But once the MLB blockade is over, the Yankees will face a variety of challenges on a much wider scale, and Lawson’s training methods will be tested in several areas.

Lawson’s strike philosophy has long been a “hard hit”, so it’s not hard to see that he will at least be in the spotlight as he continues to work with the Yankees strikers.

Some of the most desperate players of the 2021 season have struggled in this area.

According to Fangraphs, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Gary Sanches and Joey Gallo all had a hard hit rate last season.

Torres took another step back in the trend of his career. After deploying .871 OPS in 2019, it registered only .724 OPS in 2020 and dropped to .697 last season.

Among the technical advances the Yankees made in their small league system under Lawson’s control was the measurement of exit speed during collision practice, so it is clear that the measurement would be of greater importance at the major league level.

According to Fangraphs, Torres is down 25.8 percent from 34.3 careers in 2021.

LeMahieu had his worst season with the Yankees since signing a six-year, $ 90 million deal last January, limping to .714 OPS, his lowest level since 2014 with the Rockies. In 2021, LeMahieu’s 27.4 percent hard-hit ratio was lower than his career number (31.3) and much lower than his first two seasons with the Yankees (40 and 35 percent).

New York Yankees' No. 26 DJ LeMahieu leans on the dugout grid
DJ LeMahieu was one of the Yankees who fought hard on the plate in 2021.

Then there’s Sanches, who has spent a lot of time impressing the Yankees in the mainstream. Although he recovered somewhat from the terrible depression of 2020 in 2021, and his OPS rose from .618 to .730, there was no reason for the organization to return to the level of all the stars he had achieved during his career.

In 2021, his hard-hit coefficient was only 30.9 (37.3 for his career).

Gallo, who wants to spend his first full season as a Yankee, wants to shake up his ugly debut in the Bronx. His hard hit (when combined with Rangers and Yankees) was 37.8 percent in 2021, down 44.8 percent from his career mark.

When the MLB and the Players Association sign a new collective agreement and the blockade ends, the Yankees will make many roster decisions.

If all four of the struggling players remain, Lawson’s work will begin here.

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