Yankees new hitting coach James Rowson beat out 2 candidates with crucial endorsement

All you really need is one guy to believe in you.
New York Mets v Miami Marlins
New York Mets v Miami Marlins / Mark Brown/GettyImages

It appears the Yankees will go external for their next hitting coach hire, but only on the surface.

In reality, James Rowson, fresh off a stint as the Tigers' assistant hitting coach, some time in Miami as Don Mattingly's bench coach, and a successful tenure leading the Twins' offense from 2017-19 (he left for the Miami gig), was most prominently a Yankee first. Rowson played in the system, then had two separate stints as New York's minor-league hitting coordinator (2008-2011, 2014-2016).

During the latter tenure, he developed a close relationship with Aaron Judge, who was in his crucial development stages at that point in time. He and Judge didn't just pass like ships in the night; according to Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, they remain close. That seems like a crucial endorsement that might've pushed Rowson over the edge, especially because of how much is known about Judge's traditional reliance on hitting coaches from outside New York's locker room.

Rowson's work with the 2019 Bomba Squad in Minnesota probably helped, too, but the Judge nugget distinguished his resumé from other candidates who were interviewed: Tim Laker of the Dodgers and Mariners, and Eric Chavez, who once upon a time was a Yankees coach for five minutes until he bolted.

Yankees hitting coach James Rowson thrived on connection with players with 2017-19 Twins

Rowson's hire would represent a complete philosophy change; according to Kuty's writing, he's against the obsession with launch angle and doesn't believe any element of a successful hitter's swing should be sacrificed in favor of getting the ball in the air. Home runs win ballgames the quickest; that much is undisputed. But several Yankees, in recent years, have seemed to chase uppercuts against their natural instincts. Ideally, Rowson will work with each individual on what suits them best (cough, Anthony Volpe) rather than implementing a blanket policy on pop flies.

Rowson is known internally as "J-Ro," though hopefully that nickname won't be a gateway to Alex Rodriguez joining the coaching staff, too.

Unfortunately, everything encouraging about the Rowson fit -- his emphasis on communication and insistence on varied plans for different hitters -- might've been undone by Hal Steinbrenner claiming Aaron Boone wants to bunt more in 2024 and beyond. You win some with the culture fits, you lose some with the time machine to the Astroturf Era, we guess.