Saturday, 3 October 2009

How about New Yankee Stadium?

Back in my misspent youth, a buddy of mine worked out that hitting 20 home runs usually got you a single column on an APBA card with a '1' on 66. So for the rest of my life, whenever a player hits 20 home runs, I always think 'That's a "1" on his card.' (I don't play APBA any more. I went through a Strat-O-Matic phase, and then have been a Diamond Mind-er ever since.)

About a month ago, on Baseball Think Factory, there was a thread about the 1961 Yankees. Don Malcolm, blessings and peace be upon him, made the point (in post 15) that the 1961 Yankees were the first team to have SIX players in the lineup who hit 20 or more home runs.

Then, earlier this week, the New York Daily News published an article saying that the early-season 'home-run glut' had abated, and New Yankee Stadium was in no danger of getting anywhere near the all-time single-season record, set in 1999 by the Colorado Rockies.

Be that as it may, the Yankees currently have SEVEN players in the lineup who hit 20 or more home runs, and actually have a good shot at making it EIGHT. The Captain, Derek Jeter, is currently on 18. So, if you're looking for something to make this final weekend of the regular season interesting, you can keep an eye on this unusual development. Personally, I think it reflects an unhealthy obsession with the home run. Is there anything more boring? Isn't it more exciting to have a single, a walk, a double? Well, I think so.

Since the offensive explosion of the mid-1990s, the most 20-plus homer hitters the Yankees had in their lineup was SIX, in 2004. The most common total of 20-plus homer hitters is only THREE, in 1997 (ALDS), 1999 (Champs), 2000 (Champs), 2003 (AL), 2007 (ALDS). Which is my way of saying, an amazingly powerful lineup doesn't make it easier to win a World Championship. Eight would, however, be a new record.

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