Back before the 2015 season, the New York Yankees hired Reggie Willits to join the organization as the baserunning coordinator and outfield instructor. In 2018, he was promoted to the team’s first base coach.
After the 2021 season, he’ll no longer be on manager Aaron Boone’s coaching staff.
On Thursday, it was announced Willits joined third base coach Phil Nevin, hitting coach Marcus Thames and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere among those departing the Yankees.
While the team made it a priority to retain Boone a three-year contract, his staff has been gutted and the front office will have even more on their plate heading into a daunting offseason.
But there is good news about Willits’ departure. While we’re not entirely sure if he was part of the many problems that plagued the Yankees the last few years, at the very least, a shift in direction can only help.
For the last few years, Willits has been the team’s first base coach and outfield instructor … and the team’s baserunning and outfield defense was largely putrid.
Could Reggie Willits’ departure actually help the Yankees?
Since Willits arrived and played a role in influencing the baserunning in different capacities, here’s where the Yankees’ ranked in stolen bases and outs on base:
- 2015 – 25th (below league average) and 2nd (above league average)
- 2016 – 18th (below league average) and 2nd (above league average)
- 2017 – 12th (above league average) and 29th (below league average)
- 2018 – 25th and 16th (both below league average)
- 2019 – 25th (below league average) and 14th (league average)
- 2020 – 14th (below average) and 7th (above average)
- 2021 – 19th and 23rd (both below league average)
It’s all been either bad or inconsistent. Nothing in between. As for the outfield defense? Check out their ranking in Outs Above Average since 2015:
- 2015 – No Data
- 2016 – 11th
- 2017 – 5th
- 2018 – 18th
- 2019 – 10th
- 2020 – 21st
- 2021 – 24th
Inconsistency or regression. A change was needed, wouldn’t you agree?
Again, not sure why it took the Yankees this long to realize there was a problem of sorts, but this is what they do. They wait things out until the situation is no longer tenable and then try to make it look favorable when someone’s contract expires.
Maybe we wouldn’t be looking for four new assistant coaches had a few plugs been pulled when they needed to be.