EJ’s breakdown of the Yankee offense so far shows us pretty much what we would have expected: the Yankees are crushing home runs at an exceptional pace, but otherwise have been fairly pedestrian as far as getting hits and drawing walks are concerned. EJ also singles out the Yankees’ home run per fly ball percentage of 20% as fairly high (which it is) and likely due for some regression. That statement made me curious about the types of home runs that the Yankees have been hitting, to see whether they have been getting a disproportionate number of lucky breaks that just got out, or whether they have been hitting legitimate home runs.
Fortunately, Hit Tracker has all the data I need, so I can look at each of the 27 homers the Yankee players have hit this season. Hit Tracker categorizes home runs into 4 categories:
Lucky: “A home run that would not have cleared the fence if it has been struck on a 70-degree, calm day.”
Just Enough: “Means the ball cleared the fence by less than 10 vertical feet, OR that it landed less than one fence height past the fence. These are the ones that barely made it over the fence.”
No doubt: “Means the ball cleared the fence by at least 20 vertical feet AND landed at least 50 feet past the fence. These are the really deep blasts.”
Plenty: Anything that doesn’t fit into the above categories.
Because I enjoy a nice excel table as much as the next guy, here’s the breakdown of the Yankee home runs hit so far:
So what do the data show? From looking at the numbers, it might be reasonable to assume that Jorge Posada‘s home run surge might be most sustainable, based on the fact that 4 of his 5 homers were either plenty or no doubt. Robinson Cano also comes off looking pretty strong, with 2 no-doubters and 1 plenty to go along with a lucky/just enough (which I marked as lucky to be more conservative). Cano currently has the 8th-longest home run in the league, at 450 feet (Justin Upton has the 2 longest so far…beast). Curtis Granderson also has done very well, with 3 plenty and 1 no-doubter.
Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin both seem to be about in the middle, with a few lucky shots, but also some no-doubters. Alex Rodriguez does not come off looking quite as good, as only 1 of his 4 home runs qualified as plenty, while the other 3 were just enough. I suspect this may be a function of where A-Rod tends to hit the ball (often to the deeper part of the ballpark).
As a team, the Yankees only have 2 lucky home runs, and 8 that were just enough (good for 37 percent of their total). The remaining 63 percent were plenty or no doubt, which suggests that the Yankees’ home run binge cannot likely be attributed to luck/environmental factors such as wind and temperature. As such, the likelihood of the Yankees continuing to hit home runs is strong, and I wouldn’t be concerned about the state of their offense. While several of these guys (Martin and Posada especially) would not be expected to continue this pace due to track record or age, this remains a powerful offense. When Nick Swisher decides to get in on the home run action (which will happen sometime soon) he’ll be able to make up for the inevitable drop-off/slump/injury that is bound to occur.
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