A Reason to Not Panic About the Yankees

After losing an ugly two-game set to the Toronto Blue Jays, some fans are a bit on edge with the current state of the Yankees. I could write an entire post on the reasons why it's far too early to panic, but instead, I will hopefully shed some light on something that suggests that things will almost definitely be improving on the pitching front before long.

If you've watched the Yankees at all in 2012, you know that our starting pitchers are giving up a disproportionately high amount of home runs. Phil Hughes has given up a homer in each of his starts so far this season, bordering on historic territory with that statistic. He's far from the only Yankee starter to be suffering because of the long ball, though. Each starter has seen a significant jump in their HR/9 and HR/FB numbers so far in 2012. That is obviously bad, but the unsustainable rate at which it is occurring means that they are due for the good kind of regression before long.

Silly looking graphs on these numbers after the jump.

All numbers via fangraphs.

So, why is this happening at such a high clip? Is it all just severe bad luck? Probably not, though that likely has a bit to do with it. Having Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch as their home ballpark probably contributes a fair share of these home runs, though that is only new for Hiroki Kuroda. Anytime a pitcher gives up a fly ball to right, there is a chance it scrapes over the fence, but that doesn't really explain why it's happening more so far this year than it has in the past.

Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova are both giving up a higher percentage of fly balls this season than they have for their careers, while CC Sabathia and Kuroda are both just under their career FB% numbers. With Hughes already being pretty fly ball prone, his 54% fly ball rate this season while playing half his games in YSIII is certainly something that will lead to more home runs than usual. There was plenty of reason to suspect that Kuroda would give up more home runs than he had in the past when moving from the NL West to the AL East, and into Yankee Stadium, specifically, but even that does not make up for such a spike in his home run numbers.

There isn't really any one thing you can point to as a reason why the Yankee starters have given up so many home runs so far this season, but there is very, very little to nothing that would suggest that they would ever be able to maintain their current pace of dishing out dingers. It's truly an unsustainable fluke thing that will almost certainly begin to regress toward the mean. While very frustrating to watch in the meantime, at least there is plenty of reason to be optimistic that this won't continue to be such a factor in games going forward.

So, yeah. The pitching will most likely be fine, and the Yankees will most likely be fine, too. After 38 games in 2011, the Yankees' record was exactly the way it stands today, and that team went on to win 97 games. It's way too early to be wearing out the panic button.

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