Will Yankees hiring two hitting coaches improve their offense?
By MARQUEL INGRAM
College Contributor Network
The change was necessary. Former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long seemed to have lost his hitters and it was obvious by the lack of production.
And because of 2014, long-time general manager Brian Cashman did something that the organization has never done. He employed two hitting coaches -- Jeff Pentland as hitting coach, with Alan Cockrell backing him up as an assistant.
Before taking the Yankees' hitting coach position, Pentland was the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2011 season. Last season he was the Miami Marlins' hitting coordinator.
As for Pentland's assistant, Cockrell was drafted in the 1984 MLB draft and made a few appearances as a pitcher for the 1996 Colorado Rockies.
These days many teams employ two coaches, so it is not a groundbreaking hire. Not to mention the organization purportedly wanted to have two coaches for the past few seasons.
But the blatant question here is, will this work for the former Bronx Bombers?
The simple answer is, it couldn't hurt.
After all, the Yankees' offense last year was nothing short of pungent garbage. Its 633 runs scored ranked a dismal 20th in Major League Baseball, while batting average (.245/20th), on-base percentage (.307/23rd) and slugging percentage (.380/17th) all landed New York in the bottom half of the league.
To belabor the point, the aforementioned 633 runs was the lowest output since 1990, when the team was perennially a non-factor in the American League East.
One can blame the woeful hitting statistics -- and for that matter, the woeful pitching stats -- on the copious amount of injuries the team sustained: newly signed free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran each served considerable time on the disabled list.
Aside from the free agent signings, players like the (now-retired) Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Brett Gardner all suffered from the injury bug, thereby marring their ability to produce at the plate.
Doesn't exactly take a Connie Mack or a Casey Stengel to realize how terrible of an offensive season it was for the 2014 Yankees, nor would it to deduce they did not play well enough to make it to the postseason.
Excluding the Yankees, 23 teams now have two hitting coaches on their respective coaching staffs.
Of that group, the team that tallied the highest total of runs last season was the Angels with 773, which was tops in the major leagues.
The lowest scoring team was the San Diego Padres with 535, dead last in the entire league.
While the team with the most runs in the league that only used one hitting coach was the Rockies (third), the squad with the fewest runs scored was -- you guessed it -- the New York "Bankees," uh I mean Yankees!
These stats don't really say much considering the disparity in ratio between teams that have two hitting instructors and those with one, but a new approach might ignite the offense.
For the 2011 Dodgers, Pentland was able to squeeze out 641 runs.
I know, not much more than the 2014 Yankees total output, but I believe the Yankees' lineup, when healthy, is better than what Pentland had to work with three seasons ago.
A former pitcher as an assistant could also be beneficial to not only the players, but to the head hitting coach -- Cockrell can add knowledge to what pitchers may want to do to specific hitters based past seasons, and help focus those hitters better their weaknesses.
Also what may help is players staying healthy and avoiding the DL.
The names mentioned earlier -- Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran, etc. -- marched onto the baseball diamond each day with nagging injuries.
They are all capable of bounce back seasons, especially Ellsbury, who hit only .271 last season after hitting well over .300 in 2013.
So can Pentland and Cockrell turn around the offense in 2015?
Why not? The squad can only do better than last season.
Marquel Ingram is an aspiring sports writer from Rutgers University. He loves the Colts, Yankees and the Mavericks. Follow him on Twitter: @marquel_ingram