The 20 Big Fly Plateau
Very often, when a free agent signs with the Yankees, experts talk about an increase in home runs due to the infamous short porch in right field. Robinson Cano loved it. So did Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, and countless others. Usually, fans in the bleachers would come home with souvenirs, with at least one player providing twenty of them. This year might be different.
May 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Yankees first basemanMark Teixeira
at bat against the Chicago Cubs during the game at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Judging by the current pace of home run hitting, twenty home runs might be a stretch. Mark Teixeira has nine longballs, but has had hamstring issues and wrist discomfort. Brian McCann owns seven homers, but with his consistency, or lack thereof, who knows what will happen. My personal hunch is that he either hits twenty exactly or falls short. Unless Ellsbury, Soriano, or Beltran (if he returns) discover major power binges, 20 might be a goal instead of a possibility.
With mainstays such as Cano, Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Nick Swisher, Paul O’Neill and others, home run totals were consistent and nearly a given. The last full season with no players hitting at least twenty balls over the fence was 1968, in Mickey Mantle‘s last season. He hit 18. Before that was 1945, when Nick Etten smashed 18 during the WWII years without Joe DiMaggio. Bottom line: Yankee Stadium and home runs were synonymous before this year. Even the designated hitter might not help the 2014 Yankees hit 20 long balls.
Of course, wins are more important that homers, but there has been a positive correlation in the past between homers and wins (which makes sense because home runs equals runs). If the pitching (Masahiro Tanaka) begins to fall apart, and the Yankees can’t score quickly, the summer could be very long.