From "hit strikes hard" to "I don't give a sh-t," it's been quite a year and a half for New York Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson, wouldn't you say? It's yet another situation where fans can't help but wonder what this organization is doing or why they're saying what they're saying.
How did hitting the strikes hard work out for the Yankees in 2022? Pretty good, we guess, after the Bombers finished the season with the fourth-best OPS in the league. But they almost collapsed due to a lack of offense in the month of August, then fell victim to the unit going completely silent in the ALCS against the Houston Astros.
Now, with an underwhelming six weeks of 2023 in the books, Lawson isn't entirely about "hitting strikes hard." This time, via Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (subscription required) it's "hitting is really hard."
Jokes aside, fans likely understand where Lawson is coming from. Right now, it's a waiting game. The Yankees need to get healthy and maintain some sort of consistency with their lineup. They were dealt the worst hand of all having the most injuries in the league.
But that's not really an excuse to write off offensive production and minimizing it, like Lawson's recent commentary seemed to do.
Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson has puzzling quote about offensive woes
"We care about winning games. I really don’t give a s— where we rank in offensive stats as long as we’re scoring enough runs to win games. We played the No. 1 team (Tampa) and went toe-to-toe with them. Some could argue that we could have gotten swept. Other people could say we should’ve swept them. You know which side I stand on. I’m not concerned. We have to do enough to win games. Where we rank is of no concern of mine, whether it’s one or 30, as long as we win the game.”"- Dillon Lawson via The Athletic
OK! But the problem has been not scoring enough runs to win games. The team's 28-run surge during the recent three-game series with the Athletics only bumped them up to 13th in MLB for runs scored. Not bad, but also not great.
Considering the circumstances with injuries? It's actually pretty good. But the Yankees didn't shake up the coaching staff and add Lawson after the 2021 season in order to "score enough runs to win games." They did it so they could maximize the potential on the roster and maintain a top-five offense in the league. The goal is to have an unrelenting offense -- not one that languishes, as the coaching staff hopes the job gets done on a night-by-night basis.
To be honest, we weren't even thinking about Lawson until this moment. Didn't think he was part of the problem. Fans were mostly zoning in on Aaron Boone's questionable managerial decisions and, once again, Brian Cashman's roster construction.
But if there's any sort of attitude in the dugout that's absolving the Yankees' offense from being one of the worst in the league, regardless of the injury situation, then perhaps we'll acknowledge that as part of the bigger picture issues.