The Yankees have been no stranger to the long ball over the last 10 years. Since 2002, the Bronx Bombers have averaged almost 220 home runs per season, so this year's power display shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. What makes this season's home run barrage a little different, however, is a much larger percentage has come on balls hit to the opposite field.
Opposite Field HR Rate, Yankees vs. MLB, 1962-2012
Note: 1984 excluded because of discrepancies in the data.
The Yankees' 23 opposite field home runs are five more than the team hit in 2010 and 2011 combined. That equates to 13.4% of all round trippers, the franchise's highest percentage since 1998 and fourth best in the last fifty years. Compared to the rest of the big leagues, the Yankees six percentage point advantage in opposite field homers is the third greatest margin since 1962. No matter how you look at, it's been a banner year for the Yankees when it comes to going deep the other way.
Because of the short porch, the Yankees have an inherent advantage when it comes to opposite field home runs. Along with Coors Field, Yankee Stadium has surrendered more opposite field home runs than any other ballpark, and 18 of the 23 have been hit by a right handed batter to right field (the Yankees have hit 12). However, the Yankees’ ability to drive the ball out the other way hasn’t been limited to the
Breakdown of Yankees' Home Runs, 2012
The Yankee with the most opposite field home runs in 2012 is Russell Martin, who has deposited all five into the short porch. Derek Jeter has also used right field at Yankee Stadium for three of his four opposite field homers. On the other hand, Nick Swisher has hit two opposite field home runs on the road and two more to left field at Yankee Stadium, while Eric Chavez has hit all three of his away from the Bronx, including in back-to-back games during the Yankees’ recent series in
The Rangers Mike Napoli leads all major leaguers with eight opposite field home runs this season, while teammate Adrian Beltre is right on his heels with six. That’s bad news for the Yankees because the Rangers visit the
2012 Opposite Field HR Leader Board
Opposite Field Home Run Leaders, 1948-2012
Jim Thome is the only player to hit more than 100 opposite field home runs (based on data, with some limitations, from 1948 to the present). Not surprisingly, the rest of the top-20 reads like a who’s who of baseball sluggers. However, there is one notable exception. Derek Jeter’s 76 opposite field long balls rank eighth all time, but also represent an astounding 31% of his career total. If the Captain continues to add to his mark down the stretch, the Yankees just might wind up breaking the franchise record for both total home runs (241 in 1961) and those hit to the opposite field (33 in 1987).