April 24, 2024

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Why Yankees Aaron Judge Gerrit Cole approves of new analytics in the dugout

Why Yankees Aaron Judge Gerrit Cole approves of new analytics in the dugout

TAMPA, Fla. – The New York Yankees had a communication problem. Amid all the things that went wrong last year that led to a season that general manager Brian Cashman described as a “disaster,” some players felt that the analytics they received from the front office were not presented well. Instead, it may come at the wrong times, in the wrong ways, or from the wrong people. The information was good, the intentions were better, but something was wrong. Even Aaron Judge alluded to it after the final game of the regular season. They needed to be fixed.

Here comes Aaron Lenhardt, who has a Ph.D. from MIT and spent seven years as a physics professor at the University of Michigan.

“It's an important role,” ace Gerrit Cole said.

Lenhardt, who spent the last two seasons as the Yankees' assistant hitting coordinator, will be the newest face in the Yankees' dugout, taking over the role previously held by Zach Fierro. However, Fierro remains an employee of the club and will work in an off-field role.

Manager Aaron Boone said he really likes Leinhardt.

“He's got intelligence, he's got work ethic, he's got good relationships, he's starting to build relationships, and he's done a good job of all of that,” the manager said.

Boone pointed to Lenhardt's coaching background, which should help him better understand how to facilitate communication between the club and the front office. Lenhart served as hitting coach at the lower level of the minor leagues for the Yankees for three seasons and was in the organization for seven total. He also coached at Dawson Community College in Montana.

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On Thursday, owner Hal Steinbrenner said he spoke with Cole recently about how to provide information to players.

“We've added a new guy to the club, a guy here from Tampa who is incredibly experienced and analytics savvy but has also been a coach – a college coach actually,” Steinbrenner said. “Great working with people, great explaining things and teaching things and listening to what the people he's dealing with are saying.” “The judge actually met with him one-on-one there for an hour or two, worked with him and likes him. So he'll be a great addition.”

“There are a lot of questions about the important changes. We are introducing a new person to the club. This is a big change for me.”

After the Yankees lost to the Kansas City Royals to finish 82-80 last season and in fourth place in the American League East, Judge said he would like to see the team focus on some statistics and less on others. He also noted that the team needs a “better process” for communicating analytics to younger players.

“As a player, I do a pretty good job of filtering out what I need to filter out, but I think maybe some of the younger players have kind of gotten into that,” Judge said at the time.

Cole said Lenhardt's combination of analytical knowledge and experience in dealing day-to-day with baseball players will be vital. Cole added that communication between the front office and the club will not only be top-down. Leanhardt will come in handy when players want to relay messages about certain things to the front office.

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“We have a lot of coaches who are experienced in analytics to some degree,” Cole said. “But Aaron (Leinhardt) has a published thesis. It's a different level. But also very aware of the club dynamic and the player dynamic as well.

If Lenhart's students are any indication, he should excel in the Yankees' dugout. His “Rate My Teachers” page received an excellent score.

“He's the main tap that takes advantage of the players,” Cole said. “It's an important piece.”

(Aaron Judge Photo: New York Yankees/Getty Images)