clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yankees fire hitting coach Dillon Lawson after dismal first half

New York has been the worst offense in baseball since Aaron Judge went down at the start of June, and after another uninspired loss, Brian Cashman had seen enough.

Dillon Lawson of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait during media day at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 22, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With another loss on Sunday — their fourth in their last five games — and another uninspired performance at the plate, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman decided he had to make a move. Almost immediately after Sunday’s game wrapped, reports began to surface that the team was planning to fire embattled hitting coach Dillon Lawson. It didn’t take long for those reports to be confirmed:

Cashman later released a statement explaining the decision:

It has been well documented that I have been reluctant in the past to make changes to our coaching staff in the middle of a season. I am a big believer that successes and failures are collective efforts. However, I ultimately felt that a change was needed and that a new voice overseeing our hitting operations would give us the best chance to perform closer to our capabilities as we move forward into the second half of our season.

I want thank Dillon for all his efforts. He has a bright baseball mind that will continue to lead to a long and fruitful baseball career.”

If anything, most Yankees fans will probably find this move long overdue. New York has been among the worst offenses in the entire sport since Aaron Judge went down with a toe injury, with the fourth-lowest wRC+ in baseball since the start of June — ahead of only the Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates, not the best company to be keeping.

As Cashman noted, in-season coaching changes aren’t his preference. Indeed, this marks the first time since he became GM in 1998 that the Yankees have fired a coach during a season. But with the 2023 season rapidly slipping away, it was clear that something had to change, and, well, you can’t fire the players. There’s no word yet on who might replace Lawson; assistant hitting coaches Casey Dykes and Brad Wilkerson appear to be staying on, and either could be a candidate to take over the lead role on at least an interim basis.

A former catcher at Transylvania University, Lawson transitioned to coaching immediately upon graduating in 2007, working his way from the college ranks to the Minors. In 2018, the Yankees named him as their Minor League hitting coordinator, promoting him to the big-league job ahead of the 2021 season. New York ranked just 19th in runs scored that year, and while they rebounded to second in 2022, they faded after a hot start — and totally disappeared in an embarrassing ALCS sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros.

In Lawson’s defense, the roster didn’t do him a ton of favors. Much to Yankees’ fans chagrin, Cashman hasn’t done a ton to add firepower to his lineup in recent years, resigning Judge over the winter but otherwise being content to more or less run things back with an aging and injury-prone core (Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, Harrison Bader) surrounded by replacement-level role players (Josh Donaldson, the since-released Aaron Hicks, Jose Trevino). You can certainly understand why the team decided to let go of Lawson, but don’t be surprised if a coaching change doesn’t magically turn things around.