No Joke, Homer Happy Yanks Getting Last Laugh at the Stadium

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: Scott Hairston #12 of the New York Mets reacts after a home run hit by Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees during their game on June10, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Yankee Stadium isn't a very popular place for National League teams during interleague play. Whether it's anonymous Braves' players calling the short porch in right a joke or unnamed Mets officials complaining that Yankee Stadium cheapies cost their team the first round of the Subway Series, there has been no shortage of fans, media, announcers, and opposing players complaining about the friendly dimensions in the Bronx.

With three titanic home runs in last night's game against the Mets at Citi Field, the Yankees proved they can hit the long ball out of any ballpark, even the cavernous one in Queens, which, before last night, ranked 25th in the majors with only 1.57 home runs allowed per game. Of course, no one should really be surprised by the Yankees' display of power on the road. Even though the Bronx Bombers have hit eight more home runs at Yankee Stadium, the teams' 50 long balls as a visitor are tied with the Seattle Mariners for most in the majors (the Yankees have had about 200 fewer plate appearances). Clearly, when it comes to hitting homers, the Yankees' prowess knows no boundaries.

Although the Yankees have been home run happy on the road, that doesn't mean there isn't some truth to their critics' laments. According to data from hittrackeronline.com, the Bronx Bombers rank dead last in terms of the average number of ballparks at which each individual home run hit by the team would have cleared the fence. Also, based on average actual distance, the 105 homers hit by the Yankees before last night ranked fourth from the bottom. As much as the team's fans might not like to admit it, the Yankees have benefitted from the cozy confines of their home ballpark.

Home Runs Ranked by Average Actual Distance and Number of Parks
Hrdistparks_medium

Note: Click here for an explanation actual distance and number of parks. Data is as of June 21, 2012.
Source: hittrackeronline.com

The degree to which the Yankees have enjoyed a home field advantage is even more apparent when looking at the data granularly. Of the 58 long balls hit in the Bronx, 14 would not have left any other ballpark in the majors. At the other end of the spectrum, the Yankees have hit 17 long balls at home that would have been round trippers regardless of location. Even though that is good for ninth in the majors, it also ranks as the second lowest percentage of total long balls hit at home.

Distribution of Yankees' Home Runs by Number of Parks, Road vs. Home
Nyy_parks_medium

Note: Click here for an explanation of number of parks. Data is as of June 21, 2012.
Source: hittrackeronline.com

Even if you eliminate the 14 "Yankee Stadium" cheapies, the Bronx Bombers' 94 home runs would still rank second in the major leagues, behind only the Blue Jays, who, minus their one SkyDome aided long ball, would have 100. To Toronto's credit, however, Blue Jays' batters not only lead the majors in homers that would have reached the seats in every ballpark, but their long balls have traveled further on average than all but four other teams. So, even though the Yankees currently lead the majors in round trippers, the Blue Jays are probably the best "pound for pound" home run hitting team in baseball.

Home Runs that Would Have Been Out in All 30 MLB Stadiums
Hrall30_medium

Note: Click here for an explanation of number of parks. Data is as of June 21, 2012.
Source: hittrackeronline.com

Just because the Yankees have been able to take advantage of their home ballpark doesn't mean they need to apologize to the rest of the league. After all, the dimensions don't change when the opposition comes to bat. Also, every advantage enjoyed by the team's offense must be counteracted by the pitching staff. Despite this challenge, Yankees' pitchers have held the opposition to 1.18 homers per game in the Bronx, which, although lofty when compared to the league, pales in comparison to the offense's output and is only slightly higher than the rate allowed on the road. The Yankees have also managed to surrender a significantly lower percentage of Stadium cheapies, which suggests that the team's pitchers have been successful pitching to the ballpark, thereby further enhancing the home field advantage.

Opposition Home Runs at Yankee Stadium by Average Distance and Number of Parks
Hr_chart_medium

Note: Click here for an explanation of number of parks. Cheapies are home runs that only would have cleared the fence at Yankee Stadium. Data is as of June 21, 2012.
Source: hittrackeronline.com

Who cares if Yankee Stadium yields more than its fair share of home runs? If the Bronx Bombers are guilty of anything, it's constructing a team well suited for their home ballpark. That's a tradition that dates back to the origins of the game, so, if other teams are not as successful doing the same, they have only themselves to blame. The opposition might think it's a joke, but when playing in the Bronx, it usually the Yankees who get the last laugh.

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