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What should Dillon Lawson’s focus be with each hitter when the lockout ends? (Part 2)

Gallo, Sánchez, and Voit need to bounce back in 2022

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Gary Sánchez, Joey Gallo, and Luke Voit. All three of these players hvae incredibly high ceilings, but also a lot of variance in their potential outcomes. While the previously discussed four players are significantly important to the Yankees short- and medium-term success, these three players are playing for their future in pinstripes, and if they deliver, the ceiling of the team makes an immediate leap. That’s why Dillon Lawson’s communication with those players upon their re-arrival is crucial.

Gary Sánchez

Starting with El Kraken, it’s time for him to find some consistency. It seems like every few weeks, he’s trying a new stance, approach, or both. It’s a lot for a hitter to change what they’re doing all the time. It takes time to get used to or master an adjustment. Whenever a slump came up, Gary made a new change to try and mitigate it. Considering he was always under huge pressure, it’s not surprising that he felt the need to do so.

With a new coach and fresh perspective, this may be Gary’s chance to seek that consistency in approach for what seems like the first time in several years. This isn’t to say it’s all former coach Marcus Thames’ fault. He took some unwarranted heat for several player’s struggles. But in Sánchez’s defense, whatever communication that was going on with him and Thames was not clicking for more than a few weeks at a time.

If I’m Lawson, my focus with Sánchez is on confidence. Sánchez is a gifted player. Whatever stance or approach he has needs to be catered towards him being aggressive. That’s the best version of himself. If Gary has free reign to be aggressive without too much pressure to figure things out so quickly, he will have a better chance to return to the form he needs to continue his career in New York.

Joey Gallo

This is my dream version of Joey Gallo. Keep almost everything the same, but change the pelvic tilt a bit to flatten the approach angle. To say that Gallo has great discipline is an understatement. He has generational feel for the strike zone, and it’s obvious when you watch him play every day. The issue is, sometimes his swing doesn’t allow him to maximize those decisions!

His approach angle is limiting to what he can do at times. If in normal drill work/batting practice he can trend closer to what we see in this video, there is no doubt in my mind he will be better off for it. This is a bit of hyperbole, but to me, Gallo is so strong that no matter what changes he makes to his swing (mainly flattening his approach angle), he will still hit the ball in the > 90th percentiles in terms of exit velocity and scorch plenty of homers. That’s not the case for everybody, but it is for Gallo.

We still don’t know what Gallo’s ceiling is because we’ve never seen the optimized version of his swing, but I guarantee it’s closer to this video than he thinks. Lawson has to be dreaming of a version of Joey Gallo that doesn’t cut off a part of the strike zone. When you see the ball as well as Gallo does, your focus must be on perfecting your swing so you can make most of that eye with consistently damaging hacks.

Luke Voit

This one is tough. Voit seems to have a pretty good idea of where he needs to be to maintain consistent success. I’m fairly confident that with health, Voit will be a 120 wRC+ hitter at the very least. The one thing that is a bit worrisome, is Voit’s plate discipline fluctuation in the last few seasons, and how much it’s impacted his contact rates. Ideally, a hitter’s plate discipline doesn’t change too much year over year, but Voit saw changes in both first pitcher swing percentage and chase percentage.

The one problem with putting too much stock in these numbers is Voit’s weird playing time diet in 2021. His injuries and Anthony Rizzo’s arrival made his time in the starting lineup spotty. That will lead to fluctuations for any player. Voit has to notice this may not change anytime soon. It’s possible the Yankees will either continue to play multiple players at first, or acquire a full time first baseman, making Voit’s outlook bleak. In that position, you have to stick to your plan and wait for your time to come. It’ll be tough for Lawson to connect with Voit because of this, but that’s the life of a hitting coach.

Originally, this analysis was going to address the rest of the lineup, but it feels right to split these three hitters from the rest of the group. They are all similar in the sense that their future with the team isn’t guaranteed, while their impact could be substantial. Dillon Lawson has his hands full with this lineup. I’m not sure there’s ever been a similar situation where so many talented stars are coming off underperformances.