It wasn’t too long ago when Yankees fans complained about how many home runs the team hit. It’s true that the Yankees won games because they hit home runs and that may not be a good thing but hey… it won games! Last year people found the lack of home runs upsetting and were not hesitant to express that feeling. Fans love the long ball. It keeps the turnstiles clicking and pitchers on their toes and it’s very exciting. I know that I love hearing the ball crack off the bat and fly through the air and into the stands and I’m sure many of you will agree. Last year we simply didn’t see enough of them and took something away from the games and definitely didn’t help in the standings. After a huge spending spree this off season, the Yankees are really hoping to see the Bronx Bombers live up to their name once again.
In 2009 the new Yankee Stadium opened it’s doors for the first time. With it came hopes for a huge season after missing the playoffs the year before and spending big on free agency. The season saw more than it’s fair share of terrific moments but baseball was buzzing over the power numbers that the Yankees were putting up. They hit an astounding 244 long balls and won 103 games on their way to a World Series championship. Many critics said it wouldn’t last and the Yankees would be stuck without the long ball to support their onslaught but the homers kept steady into 2010, 2011, and 2012 and the Yankees made the playoffs each year. But in 2013 they lost power hitting catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Nick Swisher to free agency and first baseman Mark Teixeira, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and outfielder Curtis Granderson all went down with injuries and would lose most of the year. The result was a big drop in home runs— Only 144— and a failure to make the playoffs.
So, mirroring the offseason before 2009 the Yankees took advantage of a strong free agent class and went shopping like a little kid in a toy store. They spent close to $500 million dollars (I know- Wow!) and put most of it into the lineup. In the outfield they brought in Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and still have Alfonso Soriano after last year’s trade deadline deal with the Cubs. Ellsbury is one of baseball’s truly dynamic players and can bring power to the team along with many other things. Beltran has been outrunning Father Time and put up very big power numbers over the past two years in St. Louis. Soriano is well… Soriano and if you didn’t catch the absolute tear he went on last year then just take my word for it when I say it was mind boggling. The Yankees improved their catcher spot from last year with the big bat of Brian McCann who, despite missing the early part of last year, smacked 20 homers for the Atlanta Braves. That is a lot of major improvements and each can bring a whole mess of home runs to the Yankees.
Even though they lost Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees should expect to see a huge bump in power numbers. A year like 2009 is not necessary, but the same end result would be nice. It’s hard to please the Yankees fan base, but home runs are a necessity in the Bronx. The short porch in right field is like catnip for sluggers and McCann, Ellsbury, and Beltran are probably drooling at the thought of stepping to the plate at Yankee Stadium. Sure it’s true that relying on home runs to win games is not a concrete plan but it seems to help.
Baseball is a game where a lot of people have a lot of theories about how the game should be played. Some want a game of small ball and strategy, others a game of efficiency and calculations, and then there’s the guys who just want to win games. Here in Yankeeland, we win games with the big fly to right and that’s alright. The Bronx Bombers need to return to form and if history is any indication of the future (Which it usually is) then they’ll have a very special 2014. Bombs away!