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The Yankees hit a lot of home runs. This is a problem?

Jul 19, 2012, 9:40 AM EDT

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There’s nothing  more annoying than fans of an otherwise awesome team obsessing on that team’s flaws. Or what the fans perceive to be flaws. They’re baseball’s version of First World Problems, really. The rest of us — who follow legitimately flawed teams — don’t really want to hear it.

This year it’s Yankees fans — driven by some media folks, actually — complaining that the Yanks are too home run-dependent. Never mind that they are clearly the best team in baseball and hold a ten-game lead in what is supposed to be the toughest division in the game.  They hit too many home runs, the argument goes, and if they want to go far in the playoffs, they have to learn to manufacture runs.

Today Ken Davidoff of the New York Post examines that bit of wisdom. And finds that, really, there isn’t anything to the notion that a team has to play a certain brand of baseball in order to win the World Series. Check it out.

It may be frustrated to see your powerful sluggers mowed down in the postseason and I suppose it’s understandable to then think that a team built around the longball is doomed come October. But the fact is that the postseason is short, stuff happens and complaining that your team hits too many home runs to win a World Series is just nothing anyone wants to hear.

  1. alang3131982 - Jul 19, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Pitching, defense and three-run homers seem to work pretty fine….

    • ptfu - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      Earl Weaver approves this message.

    • deathmonkey41 - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Girardi calls for the 3 run homer even if there’s only 1 guy on base.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 19, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    I never understood this logic either. A HR hitter can score a run on one hit. Manufacturing runs requires multiple hits, plus usually some other business and it all has to be executed correctly. Typically the hater say something like “good pitchers don’t give up many HR.” But one could also say “Good pitchers don’t give up many consecutive hits.” I would prefer a team that can take advantage of a single mistake pitch from a good pitcher to a team that needs the same pitcher to make 2 or 3 or more mistakes in order to push a run across.

    • surefooted1 - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Exactly. Good pitchers are good because they don’t give up sequential hits that turn into rallies. All pitchers make mistakes. Having a lineup that can punish the pitcher and take full advantage of the mistake is a huge advantage.

      Those who say the Yankees won’t win because of having to face better pitchers in October should probably check out how they’ve handled good pitchers throughout the year.

      The Yankees may very well not win the WS, but it won’t be because they hit too many homers.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        Kind of the like Nats pitchers who are striking out too many hitters, according to their pitching coach. Just smile and enjoy the ride…

  3. uyf1950 - Jul 19, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    I’m a Yankee fan a very long time Yankee fan, I don’t obsess about the Yankees hitting to many HR’s. Yes it would be nice if they were better with RISP then they are right now. But I would be willing to go on record and say there are 29 other clubs and the fans of those very same clubs that would love to have the problems the Yankees have so far this season. That’s just my opinion, the opinion of a Yankee fan.

    • Alex K - Jul 19, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      I didn’t see this before I posted my comment. You’re right, though.

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      In other words, the Yankees are often in scoring position when they are at bat.

  4. Alex K - Jul 19, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    I really wish the Cubs had that kind of problem.

  5. sparky1002 - Jul 19, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    No doubt most of those complaining are those who hate the Yankees anyway. Hitting slumps affect every player from time to time whether you are a home run slugger or not.

  6. isaiahforreal - Jul 19, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Everyone knows that those home run numbers decrease tremendously in the post season. The pitching is better.

    • sparky1002 - Jul 19, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      I believe home run numbers decrease in the post season because many players choke at the plate as the pressuer builds to perform and as a result many pitchers look better than they actually are.

      • kopy - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:18 AM

        And the weather is colder in October, and the games are always played at a cooler time of the day (night). The ball doesn’t fly as far.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:06 AM

        Wouldn’t the pitchers be just as likely to succumb to the same sort of playoff pressure that causes the hitters to choke? I’m just not buying this theory.

    • Stacey - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      The Yankees have beaten – and have hit home runs off of – a lot of good, playoff caliber pitchers.

    • syracuse451 - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      That’s a media narrative, which goes along with the whole “the Yankees can’t homer against good pitchers” narrative. Tell that to Jered Weave who served up 3 homers the other night.

    • lardin - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      Some of the pitchers the Yankees have beat this year:
      Bucholz, Holland, Verlander, Shields, Price, Gonzalez, Jackson, Masterson, JIminez, Peavy, Lester, Becket, Santana and Hudson.

      Some of these guys they will most likely see in the playoffs.
      Also add in Weaver who the Yankees lit up, but ended up losing the game anyway…

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      Don’t tell that to Aaron Boone.

      The Yankees are not the sort of team that can only homer against scrubs. They have been beating up on the best teams in baseball, and largely due to HR. It’s not like some UFO lands in early October deposits a new breed of superpitcher. If they just keep doing what they have been doing, they should see plenty of success.

    • zachcomtois - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Somebody forgot to tell David Freese

    • deathmonkey41 - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      You’re also not facing team’s 4 and 5 pitchers in the playoffs.

  7. hisgirlgotburrelled - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Beyond it being a First World issue, it’s just a really really bad criticism. It’s not an issue at all. Hitting the ball hard is never a bad thing.

    • ptfu - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      Hitting the ball hard is even better with runners frequently on base. Yankees are second in the league in OBP, only 0.001 behind the Rangers. Naturally the Bronx Bombers have a big lead in SLG.

  8. thatyankeedude - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Well as a Yankee fan I have no complaints about the HRs I think that it is a quick way to score runs and can get a team back into a game ASAP

  9. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Today Ken Davidoff of the New York Post examines that bit of wisdom.

    Yes, Ken examines that bit of wisdom. If you only didn’t read Jay Jaffe’s article on 6/25 posted here(1), who referenced an old Joe Sheehan article from 5/28/09 here(2). So yes, Ken did some work that had already been done previously.

    1 – http://mlb.si.com/2012/06/25/new-york-yankees-home-runs-risp/
    2 – http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8961

  10. qacm - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    There are very few Yankee fans who think the team hits too many home runs. That’s quite obviously a ridiculous notion. But there are a fair number of “reporters” who are not above saying ridiculous things like that about the Yanks.

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM

      ^ THIS

  11. Jason @ IIATMS - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    What, we’re supposed to kick back on our recliners and accept the team as it is? Nooooo! The MSM must find a way to make us anxious and nervous.

    /sell me some newspaper!

    If Verlander happens, it happens. I just want to make sure my team is in it.

    • Alex K - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      Right. If you’re getting Verlandered then manufacturing runs is most likely going to be harder.

  12. thenoblefacehumper - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    As a Yankee fan I’ve heard plenty of this and never understood any of it. Isn’t hitting home runs the most sustainable way to score? A good defense can stop an offense that “manufactures” runs. No defense for the long ball.

  13. Kevin S. - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Yeah, it’s all tied into this idea that the Yankees will somehow fail against top SP in the playoffs because they hit too many home runs. Bull. The top 15 SP (by fWAR) this year have been: Verlander, Sale, King Felix, Gio, Greinke, Strasburg, Dickey, Kershaw, Cueto, Sabathia, Peavy, Cain, Harrison, Hammel and Lee. The Yankees have faced those pitchers nine times – Hammel and Verlander twice, Felix, Gio, Dickey, Cueto and Peavy once each. Their average line against the Yankees? 6.1 IP, 4.74 ERA, 5.37 RA/9, 10.6 H/9, 1.42 HR/9, 3.00 BB/9, 7.26 K/9, 2.42 K/BB. Yeah, it’s too bad the Yankees just can’t hit against the kind of pitching they’ll be facing in the playoffs.

  14. deathmonkey41 - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    I have no problem with them hitting HRs- my problem is with their inability to move runners station to station if the situation absolutely calls for it. Do HRs move runners along? Sure, but grounding out to the shortstop when you have a runner on 2nd with 1 or no outs because you’re trying to pull it out of the park instead of going to the right side doesn’t help very much. I think they’re at a disadvantage in low scoring games because of things like that and not having a single person on the team that can lay down a bunt consistantly if you held a gun to their head.

    • lardin - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      As far as I am concerned this is only on situation when an MLB team should bunt: Runners on first and Second, late in a one run game. The reason is simple, to avoid the double play and set your self up where a sac fly gets one run and base hit gets two.

      Other than that, dont bunt.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        I don’t mind the occasional (occasional!) bunt to change the way the defense sets up. I also have no problem with bunting for a base hit in “sacrifice situations” – you’re still trying to get on base, and if that fails well then at least you move the runners over. But the priority should be increasing the likelihood of reaching base (in both the immediate and long term), not moving the runners over.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      I think they’re at a disadvantage in low scoring games because of things like that and not having a single person on the team that can lay down a bunt consistantly if you held a gun to their head.

      Possibly, but they just aren’t often in low scoring games. (Per bref), they’ve played 91 games this year. 7/91 (7.7%) they’ve been shut out. 8/91 they’ve only scored one run. so ~16% of their games, they score 2 or more runs. (6/7). As I’m sure you’ve read since they mention it all the time, the Yanks have scored 3 runs in 42 straight games.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        so ~16% of their games, they score 2 or more runs. (6/7)

        Sigh, 16% of their games they score less than 2 runs. God i’m such an idiot.

  15. tuloisgod - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Hmm. Judging from the way the ball is flying out of the park around the Majors, I have two observations:

    a. Allen “Bud” Selig secretly has authorized the manufacture of a new supply of rabbit balls. The HR totals around the league would suggest that, and it makes a little sense: Nothing generates interest in baseball (among casual fans) more than lots of homers and basketball-like offense, and a new generation of longball-bashing superstars might obscure the greatest failing of Selig’s reign, his blind eye toward the Steroid Era.

    ii. I’m sick and tired of hearing how “offensive” Coors Field plays. Yes, there is a lot of offense (and for good reason — a spacious ballpark combined with thinner air that leaves breaking balls spinning), but there are LOTS of modern parks that generate at least as many homers and — Yankee Stadium, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Houston, Boston … Quit allowing the Coors Field factor to cloud the judgment of Rockies hitters, once and for all!

  16. F14TRex.com - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    STL media complained last year that the Cardinals couldn’t score unless they hit a homerun. The team finished with by far the most runs scored in the National League at the end of the regular seasons and pounded bomb after bomb in the playoffs until they won a world title.

    Doesn’t matter how you get em.

  17. MattJanik - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    I don’t remember the exact number, but SNY has cited a couple times this season that the team that hits more home runs in any particular game wins something like 70% of the time because, you know, home runs score runs, and the team that scores more runs tends to be the team that wins the game… I’m sure there are 29 other teams that would take some of those sluggers off their hands, if they’re so inclined.

  18. jsally430 - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    wish this was a “problem” for the twins

  19. protectthishouse54 - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Some good comments here. As a Yankee fan, I’m not worried about the team hitting homers in October… I’m worried about the team hitting anything in October.

  20. anxovies - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    If you drop in on the Yankee chatrooms at the team website you will find a lot of hand wringing about too many homeruns and leaving runners on base. A lot of Yankee fans have been convinced by baseball analysts that reliance on the long ball has doomed the team’s postseason chances. This Yankee angst has progressed to the comical. There are posts calling for Girardi’s head, as if he has any control over when and how often his players hit homers, and even though his team has the best record in the majors.

  21. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Lol, try being a Rays fan. We’re homerun dependent too, only difference being that we aren’t even good at it.

  22. indaburg - Jul 19, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    In related news, I am just too ridiculously rich and good-looking.

  23. cogitobaseballergosum - Jul 19, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Bases loaded, two outs….Dang, another home run! If he’d have just hit a single we’d have a better chance of winning during the playoffs.

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