The Yankees have filled the one remaining hole on their coaching staff. The team announced Monday morning that it had hired former big league outfielder Brad Wilkerson as the new assistant hitting coach.
The New York Yankees today announced that Brad Wilkerson has been named an assistant hitting coach. pic.twitter.com/BF9kpxeAAx
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 30, 2023
Wilkerson takes over for veteran coach and former Yankees prospect Hensley “Bam-Bam” Muelens, who left to become the Rockies’ hitting coach. He was an assistant at Jacksonville University prior to the Yankees hiring him.
Wilkerson also spent eight years in MLB playing outfield for the Expos/Nationals, Rangers, Mariners, and Blue Jays. He hit 122 home runs and finished with a .790 career OPS and a 105 OPS+. In 2002, playing for Montreal, Wilkerson hit .266 with 20 home runs and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting.
Additionally, Wilkerson is also an Olympic gold medalist who represented Team USA at Sydney in 2000.
So why did the Yankees hire Wilkerson? His being a former player played a big role, for sure. Wilkerson, a lefty bat, actually did a good job of using the whole field as a hitter. His pull rate was only 42.1% for the career, and this approach can potentially help the home run-happy Yankees.
Wilkerson’s college experience at Jacksonville probably helps too. The Yankees have some exciting young hitters in Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez ready to debut soon. Wilkerson was also the varsity baseball coach at Florida’s King’s Academy before Jacksonville. His ability to connect and work with young players should be a boon as this new era of Baby Bombers debuts.
Furthermore, Wilkerson was an old-school player in his day, even with the 25.2% career strikeout rate (K%). He knew how to put the ball in play, often finishing a season with 20 or more doubles before back injuries took over.
Throw in the shift being eliminated, and it sounds like the Yankees know exactly who they’re getting in Wilkerson. If he can unlock something within Aaron Hicks, all the better.
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