The Yankees and 20+ home run hitters

Elsa

The Yankees have had a player hit 20 or more home runs during each non-strike year since 1968. Will that streak continue in 2014?

After an anemic showing in the power department by the Yankees offense outside of Robinson Cano last year, they seemed poised to bounce back in 2014 with the return of Mark Teixeira and the acquisitions Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.

So far Teixeira is leading the home run charge with nine through Friday but has already missed time with a hamstring injury and it appears that his wrist issues will linger throughout the year, sidelining him periodically. While he hasn't truly started hitting yet, McCann still has seven big flies so far. However, as a catcher on the wrong side of his prime with a history of shoulder injuries, his continued health is far from guaranteed. After a promising start to the season, Beltran has hit five home runs, but none since April 22nd. He's also a 37-year old dealing with bone spurs in his elbow so the bench may become a familiar place for him. Add all of this up and the Yankees could be in danger of not having a hitter with at least 20 home runs in a non-strike year since 1968.

That year Mickey Mantle hit just 18 home runs in his final year in pinstripes as the team's regular first baseman. Since then there have been some close calls dipping below 20. Throughout the dark years of the early 70's Graig Nettles an Bobby Murcer were their only power sources. In 1973 they each left the yard 22 times and in 1974 Nettles repeated that number to lead the team. The Yankees again tread that line pretty closely in the even darker years of the late 80's and early 90's. In 1989 Don Mattingly was swiftly exiting his prime and hit just 23 home runs to lead the team. A year later Jesse Barfield paced them with 25 followed by 24 from Matt Nokes in 1991 and Danny Tartabull's 25 in 1992. After those forgettable years the Yankees have enjoyed a steady supply of sluggers and from 2000 through 2012 they had at least one player hit 30 or more home runs each year.

So if the big three sluggers on the 2014 version of the Yankees continue or start to miss significant playing time, who will lead the team in home runs? Will that player reach 20 or will this team break a streak that started 46 years ago?

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