Whether or not Sean Casey returns as the Yankees' hitting coach for 2024 remains up for debate. Whatever the ex-Red's ambition, he should probably keep in touch with Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, because he seems to have thoughts on how to recapture the slugger's premier form.
Casey, a 6-4, 215-pound lug during his playing days, was never blessed with Stanton's unparalleled strength. Therefore, it stands to reason that Priority No. 1 for Casey is making sure the Yankees DH is maximizing his God-given talents.
The bizarre thing about Stanton is that he's been relegated to DH for protection, yet waddled around the field like a terrified duck towards the end of the 2023 season. Was he deeply injured and compensating for it? Was he running scared? Was he constantly harboring 60% of a soft-tissue issue, and didn't want to aggravate it? Whatever the root cause, keeping him off his feet certainly didn't help him turn back the sands of time.
In previous years, he used to hit far better when stationed in the outfield, a trend that unfortunately reversed itself as his legs weakened in 2023. Last season, he hit .183 with a .645 OPS in 127 PAs while patrolling right, unplayably poor numbers. When he was a full-time DH, the OPS rose to .735, while the average stayed a woeful .199. On the contrary, his OPS was 120 points higher last season when he patrolled the outfield than when he didn't (.848 to .728). Ditto 2021, though he rarely played the field (1.065 OPS in 10 games in left, .968 in 16 games in right, .843 as a DH).
Aaron Judge told The Athletic that he believes keeping Stanton stationary has messed with his approach (“I think if we give him the chance to just keep him in the outfield a little bit longer, keep him moving, that’s the biggest thing."). While Casey didn't echo that sentiment, he did preach getting the "athlete" out of Stanton and removing the careful caution from his swing and stance.
How will Yankees maximize Giancarlo Stanton's talent under Sean Casey?
"Right now, he’s just a little careful with the wide stance, not a huge load. It’s more of a careful swing. I think there’s more of an athlete in there. … If you go back and look at him (in the past), maybe just a little bit more upright, a little more rhythm in his hands, a little more of a dance out there in the box."- Sean Casey, The Athletic
Scoff all you want -- and we'll join you! -- but there were tangible action items there. Upright. Move the hands around. Relax the body. Anything to get the muscles twitching before reacting steps late to a fastball.
Now, if only Casey could figure out how to load him to emphasize going the other way without leaving him susceptible to the breaking ball away ... that would be dynamite. For now, we'll hope that a period away from the game to clear his mind (as Casey suggested) goes a long way toward breaking down the mental barriers that have encased his physicality.