Dillon Lawson got through 1.5 years as the New York Yankees hitting coach and the organization determined to make an in-season coaching change for the first time under general manager Brian Cashman dating back to 1998.
Lawson was hired after the dismissal of Marcus Thames following the disappointing 2021 season, and it was a tale of two halves. The Bombers were far and away the best team in the majors before the 2022 All-Star break, with their overwhelming offense and elite pitching.
But then they got hit with injuries. And unforeseen regressions. And everything that epitomized the first half disappeared in the second half. They still finished the year with the fourth-best OPS in the sport (.751), while leading MLB with 254 homers and 620 walks, but a lot of that was propped up by Aaron Judge's historic MVP campaign ... and he has his own "hitting guru" he consults with.
So this year, when the offense was still underwhelming with Judge and an absolute atrocity without him, it was a lot easier to raise questions about Lawson's effectiveness. With or without injuries, a sub-.300 OBP at the midway point is unacceptable. You simply cannot be as bad as the Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals.
Is Lawson fully to blame? Probably not. This has been the case since 2020. But he certainly didn't move the needle, especially with the guys he needed to affect most. But more importantly, who's to blame for Lawson's rapid ascension? This man was "responsible" for revamping the Yankees' hitting approach in the minor leagues and was highly-touted as an addition after the coaching staff overhaul less than two years ago. Now he's jobless.
Who's to blame for the rise and fall of Dillon Lawson with the Yankees?
Lawson was the definition of a scapegoat. The Yankees' problems run far deeper than their hitting coach. The roster construction is the chief problem. The defense is bad. The fundamentals are bad. The energy is bad. The situational/timely hitting is bad. The ability to rise to the occasion is bad.
Additionally, Lawson was the fifth hitting coach the Yankees have hired in the last 10 years. He joined the organization in 2019 after coming over from the Houston Astros, where he was their Single-A hitting coach. After three years, he was in the big-league dugout standing alongside some of the game's biggest names and most talented players.
It's no surprise the Astros sold us fool's gold, but it's the Yankees' fault for not sniffing it out. How does somebody go from "savior" to "unemployable" in just 18 months? The Yankees seem to unnecessarily vet every single hire and take far too long with their very much ineffective processes, yet Lawson, a 38-year-old with only minor-league experience, jumped the line with almost zero opposition (when you realize how quickly the decision was made)?
Not only that, but when a report surfaced suggesting the Yankees tried to land Casey in the offseason to replace Lawson, it revealed just how long the team knew they had made a mistake with the hire since they apparently weren't satisfied with Lawson's work after a statistically rewarding season, all things considered.
The focus may now shift to Aaron Boone, who's now going on four years of disappointment with various assistants. Somewhere, the messaging is not getting through. There seems to be an incessant breakdown in communication that ultimately affects this team's performance on the daily.
But again, how much better is this team, with, say, Kevin Cash at the helm? Terry Francona? Dusty Baker? Dave Roberts? Brucy Bochy? Do you really think they're 10 games better with the "right" manager? Or are they short too much talent around Judge and Gerrit Cole? Or are the wrong pieces stuffed into the wrong places? Or is the wrong philosophy being disseminated from the top down?
We'll never know the answer, but we do know this: the offense's struggles aren't Lawson's fault. It's the fault of the decision-making processes that eventually determined Lawson would be the solution to a problem that's persisted for far too long.