New York Yankees Not To Be Discounted
Many people have discounted the New York Yankees this year citing various reasons such as their aging, Derek Jeter-less lineup, and well past his prime C.C. Sabathia. Yet in this writer’s eyes, they always seem to be competitive no matter what and produce lots of runs in their home ballpark especially via the long ball. Except maybe that hasn’t been entirely true of late. Have a look at the table below that shows the team’s cumulative batting stats with home and away splits for the past seven seasons (2015 stats are thru April 30th).
|2015 Home||0.238||0.311||0.414||0.722||17||1.42||101||thru 12 games|
|2015 Away||0.242||0.334||0.430||0.765||12||1.20||119||thur 10 games|
There is a clear home advantage when it comes to home run power except sOPS+ paints a different picture. Via Baseball Reference, sOPS+, or “split OPS+”, compares a team not to their overall performance, but to the rest of the league at that particular split, in this case home vs. away stats. So in 2014, the Yankees had an sOPS+ of 97 at home which was 3% worse than the average MLB team at home where 100 is average. So far this year, New York is playing way better on the road relative to other teams with an sOPS+ of 119, which is pretty abnormal since they’ve moved into the new Stadium in 2009. If you look at previous years, their sOPS+ for home games has been either far above their road sOPS+ or at least very close to it. So far in 2015, it’s been the opposite.
Now this could just be a small sample disparity likely to normalize, and they’ve only played the Tigers, Orioles and Rays on the road in April, so I can’t really explain this except one thought is that maybe over the past three seasons teams are adjusting to how they pitch New York’s power hitters with the short porch in right field, hence the lower sOPS+ from 2013 to present compared to ’09 to’12.
The Yankees obviously had some very good teams since they moved into their new ballpark in 2009 which included a World Series win in their first year at the new confines. They had stars in Jeter and Cano and still have Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, but in the previous two full seasons, you can plainly see they haven’t quite been the Bronx bombers of old as denoted by their lower HR/G rate. For 2015 though, perhaps they’re returning to their more powerful selves. Pundits might however point out that these home run rates are likely to regress and that the power we’ve seen from Teixeira, ARod, Stephen Drew and Chris Young in April is unlikely to be as good when the season progresses.
The fact remains however that the Yankees are pitching really well. Take for instance that thru April, the Yankees owned the 3rd best ERA (3.23) in the AL so far after the Astros (3.04) and Royals (3.10); the next closest AL team are the Athletics at 3.65 which is a significant gap. The truth of the matter is that the arms New York is sending out to the mound to relieve their starters have been really good. Their entire bullpen – Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Chris Martin, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers, David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve is shutting the opposition down. Sure the Masahiro Tanaka injury hurts, but they’ve also supported their pitching staff with the 6th best offense in the AL thru April with 109 runs. That plays and I suspect the current 14-9 Yankees and AL East leaders will be just fine come September and should be in a good position for a playoff spot.