2. Reggie Willits, First Base Coach/OF Instructor
If one base coach goes, the other one has to as well, right? Reggie Willits, an outfield/base running coach in the Yankees organization since 2015, has coached first base since 2018, too.
While Nevin gets the lion’s share of the blame for getting a league-leading number of runners chopped down at the plate, Willits’ base running work wasn’t exactly fruitful, either. New York made 50 outs on the bases in total, ranking eighth in MLB — although … maybe ranking eighth after overcoming a league-worst number of outs at home … is actually good?
No. No it’s not. Not getting fooled again here. Eye test.
Additionally, we can’t exactly laud Willits’ work as an outfield instructor, either, though in his defense he was certainly given an odd crop of crammed-in players to work with. Clint Frazier, who turned into a Gold Glove finalist in 2020, was banged up to begin 2021 and never recovered his old form. Joey Gallo, a Gold Glove right fielder, was crammed into left, where he predictably struggled. Aaron Judge played center sometimes, though we’re not sure why. Something tells us Willits didn’t really prepare for that all offseason.
And then there’s Giancarlo Stanton, who looked … legitimately very good in his return to the field! For this, we have to give Willits some credit. For the other backslides and base running issues, we can’t give him a pass. If one corner goes, so does the other. Tough business.