Nov 24, 2013, 6:05 PM EST
As soon as the Yankees’ signing of free agent catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract was announced, the projections started rolling in. “McCann will hit 35-40 HRs with Yankee Stadium as home ballpark,” tweeted David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Others were less bold, suggesting 35 as a ceiling for the former Brave.
It makes sense at first glance. Yankee Stadium is 314 feet down the right field line, a feature of the park that has turned a catchable deep fly ball in 29 other parks into a fourth-row dinger. According to Statcorner, Yankee Stadium allowed home runs to left-handed hitters at a rate 16 percent higher than average. It was even more garish in 2012, when Statcorner pegged Yankee Stadium at 46 percent above the league average. In 2011, it was 45 percent; 39 percent in 2010; and 14 percent in 2009. As Keith Law noted in Saturday’s column, “Sixteen of his 20 homers in 2013 were to dead right field, as were 15 of his 20 bombs in 2012.” And that was playing half his games in the comparatively much more pitcher-friendly Turner Field.
Since the new Yankee Stadium opened up in 2009, however, a Yankee has crossed the 30-homer plateau just eight times. Two were by Curtis Granderson (43, 41), three were by Mark Teixeira (39, 39, 33), one by Robinson Cano (33), and two by Alex Rodriguez (30, 30). Alfonso Soriano could also join the list if you count his 17 as a Cub and 17 as a Yankee. But with that list, you have only two natural left-handed hitters (Granderson, Cano), a switch-hitter (Teixeira), and two right-handers (Rodriguez, Soriano). About as even a split as you can get.
The lack of left-handed hitters to hit 30 or more homers hasn’t been for a lack of trying. They’ve had Hideki Matsui, Nick Swisher, Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, and Travis Hafner, just to name a handful. Matsui hit 25 home runs as a Yankee in 2007. Swisher hit 36 as a member of the Athletics in 2006. Damon hit 24 in 2006. Ibanez hit 34 in 2009 with the Phillies. Hafner has more of an excuse as he hasn’t been a solid regular since 2007 but he hit 42 in 2006 with the Indians. If the short porch in right field is such a friend to lefties, why have only two lefties and one switch-hitter accomplished the feat in the five years of the stadium’s existence?
Let’s try some theoretical math. On FanGraphs, the Steamer projection system pegged McCann at 20 home runs prior to moving to the Bronx. If we buy that projection as realistic, and assume that 60 percent of his home runs (12) will come at home and 40 percent on the road (eight), even boosting the numbers by the highest Statcorner park factor listed above (45 percent), that would only put McCann at 25 home runs. (8 on the road + (12 home + (12 * 0.45 ))) Even if all 20 of McCann’s home runs were hit at home and we boost that by the 45 percent park factor, he only comes in at 29. It’s possible the 20-homer projection is low, but even after the most generous math, McCann still comes in under 35 home runs.
McCann solves a very obvious problem for the Yankees, and he solves it very well. His contract wasn’t outrageous, and he should be productive for them at least for the first few years of the deal. But let’s not overstate how much McCann will benefit from Yankee Stadium. It’ll help, but it won’t be his Popeye’s spinach.
Nov 24, 2014, 8:15 PM EST
If the season started tomorrow, Xander Bogaerts would start at shortstop for the Red Sox. But there’s still a lot of off-season left.
Nov 24, 2014, 7:10 PM EST
The Mariners are shopping Michael Saunders and the Rangers are one interested team thus far.
Nov 24, 2014, 6:05 PM EST
Pablo Sandoval felt disrespected by the Giants, so he chose to sign with the Red Sox.
Nov 24, 2014, 5:05 PM EST
“Hi, I’m Pablo,” and “Hi, I’m Hanley,” they’ll say. “Good to meet you.”
Nov 24, 2014, 4:48 PM EST
Nicasio was designated for assignment by the Rockies last week.
Nov 24, 2014, 4:16 PM EST
Lucas gets an invitation to spring training after hitting .255 with five homers and a .624 OPS in 163 games for the Marlins.
Nov 24, 2014, 3:48 PM EST
A huge day for the Red Sox starts out with a Panda.
Nov 24, 2014, 2:44 PM EST
Baltimore acquired Miller from Boston on July 31 and he pitched brilliantly down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Nov 24, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
Both will be 38 in the 2015 season.
Nov 24, 2014, 2:15 PM EST
No token votes for these guys.
Nov 24, 2014, 1:55 PM EST
The parts match up.
Nov 24, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
Hanley Ramirez is a $20 million+ man.
Nov 24, 2014, 1:19 PM EST
He played 11 seasons in the majors for the Marlins, Twins, Nationals, A’s, and Royals.
Nov 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EST
The Giants share is a record high.
Nov 24, 2014, 12:12 PM EST
Seager has emerged as one of MLB’s best all-around third basemen at age 27.
Nov 24, 2014, 11:50 AM EST
Presley has been the Orioles’ hitting coach since 2011.
Nov 24, 2014, 11:03 AM EST
Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson should be shoe-ins. But which newbies — and which holdovers — also have a shot?
Nov 24, 2014, 10:47 AM EST
Allen was the Triple-A pitching coach for the Rays from 2007-2014.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:33 AM EST
I assume it will only be a matter of time.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:15 AM EST
Perhaps not as weird as it may seem.
- UPDATE: The Pablo Sandoval-Red Sox deal is done, pending a physical 130
- Kyle Seager, Mariners close to $100 million extension 21
- The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot is out — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez are new on the ballot 258
- So what would the Red Sox look like with Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval? 49
- UPDATE: Red Sox finalizing a 4-year, $88 million deal with Hanley Ramirez, with a vesting option 35
- MLB players react to Odell Beckham, Jr. catch on Sunday Night Football 25
- Report: Red Sox make $95 million offer to Pablo Sandoval 77
- White Sox sign Adam LaRoche to two-year, $25 million deal 35
- The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot is out — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez are new on the ballot (258)
- Giancarlo Stanton’s contract is backloaded. REALLY backloaded. (148)
- Report: “There is a 90 percent chance that Pablo Sandoval will sign with the Red Sox” (130)
- UPDATE: The Pablo Sandoval-Red Sox deal is done, pending a physical (130)
- Sexual assualt charges reinstated against Tigers pitcher Evan Reed (129)