Day after day as I watch these New York Yankees play, I see two basic patterns. The first is that whenever the Yankees have men on base, they try to pull the ball and usually do not have much success doing so. And other teams that they play hurt them by going the other way. It drives me crazy. It drives me crazy when Mark Teixeira and Travis Hafner cannot hit a ground ball to third base once in a while when no one is playing there. So I wanted to see if my observations were all wet or if there was any truth to what I have been sputtering about. What I found was that most of my suspicions were correct.
For example, based on batted ball data, the Yankees have driven in the grand total of twelve runs on opposite field batted balls. Twelve! They have hit one opposite field home run. Opponents have hit five opposite field homers against them. Right-handed batters have hit 657 balls the opposite way or only 13.7 percent of the time. The league average is 17.4 percent. The runs batted in percentage of those opposite field batted balls is a miniscule 4.4 percent compared to a league average of 11.4 percent. Left-handed batters for the Yankees have gone to the opposite field 16.8 percent of the time compared to a league average of 17.3 percent and their runs batted in percentage per those opposite field batted balls is one percent compared to a league average of 9.8 percent.
The league average for right-handed batters pulling the ball is 26.9 percent. Yankee right-handed batters pull the ball 31 percent. Left-handed Yankees pull the ball less often than the league average at 24 percent compared to a league average of 28.1 percent, and I would imagine that Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano make up for the likes of Hafner, Overbay and the others. But again, the Yankees’ left-handed bats do not often go to the opposite field to drive in runs.
Obviously, players are who they are. If the Yankees acquire a Travis Hafner and he has spent his entire career pulling the ball, he is going to pull the ball with the Yankees. But it sure would be nice once in a while if a Yankee batter in a big situation would have at least a thought to poke an outside pitch the other way if that is where the pitcher is attacking them.