Do the Yankees Hit TOO MANY Home Runs??

With the frightening and awesome propensity the Yankees have shown for escorting baseballs off of the field of play this year, I can’t help but wonder if this could actually be construed as a BAD thing.  Home runs = runs scored = cheering fans = excitement and exultation, so how could they possibly be bad?  Am I just a miserable bastard who must always find a negative, even in an apparently unmitigated positive?  Well, yes, but that’s entirely beside the point (perhaps not entirely, but let’s not quibble about details, hmmm?).  My half-a$$ed theory is pretty simple and goes thusly: basically, there are two reasons that longballs could conceivably be construed as harmful to the ultimate success of the ballclub:

  1. You rarely want to go up to the plate looking to hit a home run.  It can screw up your swing, mess up your timing, make you become pull-happy, and mess up your overall approach, encouraging hitters to look for a certain pitch to jack out of the yard instead of staying back and hitting the ball where it’s pitched.
  2. There are many who believe that the surest route to a championship is through littleball over longball.  When it comes down to the big games, it may be easier to scratch out three runs through walks, bloopers, infield hits, sacrifices, steals, and bunts rather than trying to hit one out against a pitcher that’s never going to give you that meatball you’re waiting for.

I don’t think the first hypothesis holds much weight in terms of the 2009 Yankees.  They’ve been pretty remarkably consistent in terms of scoring runs and hitting homers all year.  Yes, some guys have gone into droughts, but no more so than in any other season.

The second theory, however, is interesting.  I have certainly felt at some times during the championship drought, that the Pinstripers have struggled to score runs in big spots.  Are they overly reliant on the big fly, and are they, therefore, going to struggle again in the playoffs?  I figured that, since they haven’t won since 2000, I’d take a look at how successful the top home run hitting teams have fared in that time period.

  • 2001: The top 5 HR teams in 2001 were (in order): Texas, San Francisco, the White Sox, Colorado, and Cleveland… ugh.  Tough start, huh.  Cleveland, the fifth ranked team, was the only team on that list to even make the playoffs and they decided not to stick around very long.  The champs – Arizona was 8th in homers that year.
  • 2002: Texas, Yankees, White Sox, Oakland, Cubs – yuck.  Some playoff teams here, but the Angels took the crown after finishing 21st in hr’s for the regular season… hmmm
  • 2003: Texas, Atlanta, Boston, Yankees, White Sox.  Coming up dry again, the Marlins and their 19th best homer rate win it all.
  • 2004: White Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Texas, Boston.  The Red Sox win it all, so it’s not exactly a death sentence being in the top 5.
  • 2005: Texas, Yankees, Cincinatti, Cleveland, White Sox.  White Sox win it all.  Clearly, the solution to a championship is to stop hitting ding-dongs until we fall to 5th place in homers.
  • 2006: White Sox, Atlanta, Cincinatti, Phillies, Yankees.  So much for my 5th place theory.  The Cardinals take it down, going 12th place in the regular season home run derby.
  • 2007: Milwaukee, Phillies, Cincy, Yankees, Marlins – blech.  Boston, only slugging 166 hrs in the regular season (good for 18th place) but takes it all down with relative ease.
  • 2008: White Sox, Phillies, Marlins, Tigers, Brewers. Yaaay, a 2nd ranked homer team wins it all – proving it’s not death to be in the top 4.

I don’t see much correlation either way here.  Sometimes, really good home run hitting teams win it all.  Most of the time, they do not.  If anything, it just shows that you win championships with pitching, not with hitting.  Teams like the D-Backs, Marlins, Red Sox (of 2007) and the Cardinals all won because they got lights-out performances by their top starters.

The Yanks will certainly not be as productive in the post-season as have been this year.  The tougher competition will yield fewer mistakes and fewer runs, but this team seems to thrive against the best pitchers so far this season, utilizing the long ball to rack up runs against Beckett, Buehrle, Halladay, Washburn (how did he get in the top 10 in ERA?), Millwood (see Washburn, above), though admittedly struggling versus Lester, Lackey, Verlander, and Jackson.

What do you guys think?  Are the Yanks too reliant on the long ball?  By the way, the last team to lead the majors in home runs during the regular season and win the crown: the 1984 Detroit Tigers: 25 years ago… hmmm

10 thoughts on “Do the Yankees Hit TOO MANY Home Runs??

  1. The other Chris H

    So Girardi bunts and he is the worst manager in the world and doesn’t realize the AL isn’t small ball league and now the Yankees hit too many HRs and the best way to win a championship is through small ball? To the point of the thread I say it isn’t a bad idea… It may be if we were the Cubs but I really don’t think our team goes up looking for Hrs besides the rare occasion from Arod and Cano and hey Arod can look for a HR anytime he wants he has been doing so his whole career. For the most part this team is built with good hitters who just happen to have effective uppercut swings that elevate balls and with that comes HRs, Damon and Tex are perfect examples of this, patient hitters who get all the singes and doubles they want but they have a swing that really initiates a lot of HR balls.

  2. 1954-Cleveland won the HR numbers…lost the WS, big time!
    The Yanks for the last few years depended on the long ball to win games and didn’t advance much at all. They went up against good pitching and lost. The line; “Good pitching shuts down power hitting”.
    In 1960 (I think) the Yanks set all kinds of hitting records in the WS against Satisfied but, lost the WS on a HR. Does that prove the HR point…No but, it does make one think, doesn’t it.
    Myself, I believe the line “Good pitching shuts down good power hitting”, I have seen it happen many times, in fact since 2000 they have lost all the time.

    • The other Chris H

      Yeah but this team isn’t like those… this team isn’t sitting around for the big bomb, they run the bases they advance the runner and they get two out RBI singles and doubles they do whata good offense does and the home runs have come with that. No one is trying to jacka bomb every time out in this line up.

      • True Chris but (as usual), I didn’t explain myself well@%&@!
        I didn’t mean the team was trying for HR’s. What I was trying to get at was; A team with guys that DO swing with the upper cut have a very very small time in the zone. Whereas, one that swings level (as Jeter etc) will usually get more hits. Therefore, it is harder for a good pitcher to get them out.
        With every common sense fact, there are exceptions to the rule, as we all know. Baseball has things we know are factual but, not for everyone.
        A-Rod, Teddy Ballgame, and Joe D all swung for line drives but, a well hit liner can go out just as well and does.

  3. The other Chris H

    True but I think the fact that we d have some line drive contact hitters, some uppercut swings, some bats built for average and the works we are able to present a very balanced line up day in day out no matter what the opposition pitches against us so because of that I don’t think our line up is feat or famine, it’s pretty much all feast.

    • You are right about the make-up of THIS team as it is now. It use to be power with avg. pitching. We have everything we need; Good pitching, good AVG. hitters, good power hitters, good speed (with Brett in CF) and good defense
      I too, like the way this team can take what you give them and win.

      • The other Chris H

        I totally get what you were talking about when it comes to teams of the past 4 or 5 years… Every single game was just waiting around for the team to put together 3 or 4 solo HRs and hope the score stood up, and if it was late and close but the team was down every one went up swinging to be on Sports Center.

  4. The other Chris H

    Well Alex can’t believe that ball just got held up and neither can I! Arod should sue the wind and rain because that one goes out any other day for a walk off.

  5. If you look at a lot of the Yankee teams that have won WS rings, you see a lot of HRs. They weren’t called Murderer’s row of The Bronx Bombers because they had a lot of singles hitters and did a lot of bunting.
    Also, how many WS games are won with HRs? I’m not just talking about 9th inning, walk off HRs, though we’ve had some late inning thunder in our past.
    BTW, the 60 WS was
    a) the flukiest WS ever. That same Yankee team won the following 2 years with teams that hit a ton of HRs.
    b) won when the Pirates hit a 3-run HR in the 8th and Mazerowski’s solo HR in the 9th.

    • Yanks in 1960 hit 193 HR’s, in 1961-240 HR’s of which Mickey hit 54 and Maris hit 61, in 1962 they hit 199 HR’s.
      One thing to look at with those teams is; other them Mickey and Maris, no-one came in a very close 3rd place. In other words those teams hit a lot of HR’s but, only a couple players hit them.
      On the teams of 2001 and up we had more then a few guys hitting a lot of HR’s.
      As for the “Murderer’s Row”, that was coined because in the late 30(?)/40(?), the Yanks had Babe, Lou, Crow, Lazzy etc., who all hit with AVG. and Power. The key word (going from my reading years ago), was AVG. with a little more power then most teams put up in those days.

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