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The Yankees’ secret advantage could give them an edge in the postseason

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New York’s power production from its circular lineup is unrivaled throughout baseball.

Giancarlo Stanton leads the Yankees with 34 home runs.
Giancarlo Stanton leads the Yankees with 34 home runs.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Bronx Bombers belted 241 home runs last season, and from the moment the club traded for Giancarlo Stanton over the winter, fans envisioned a run at MLB’s team single-season homer mark this year. Understandable, considering the incumbent NL MVP and AL runner-up Aaron Judge combined to bash 111 long balls in 2017. Even with some regression, the pair could easily combine to hit 100 this year, we thought.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Stanton, battling continued slumps and trying to play through a nagging hamstring injury, has only compiled 34 dingers to date. Judge, meanwhile, hasn’t batted since being sidelined with a broken wrist on July 26th. All Rise led the Yankees with 26 home runs at the time.

Sixty homers combined from the team’s two best power hitters wasn’t exactly what we had imagined. Yet, with 241 home runs in the bank and 13 games to go, the Yankees remain on pace to challenge Seattle’s record 264. How they’ve managed to put themselves in that position is remarkable, and may actually be better for them in the long run than relying primarily on big production from just two sluggers.

The Yankees boast 10 players who have compiled double-digit home run tallies, with two more on the precipice. Rookie sensations Miguel Andujar (24) and Gleyber Torres (23) have been the surprise power sources, Aaron Hicks hit a career-high 24, and the catching trio of Gary Sanchez (16), Austin Romine (10), and Kyle Higashioka (3) have contributed their share.

On Saturday, Didi Gregorius crushed two home runs, giving him 26 on the year. The mark is a personal best for Didi, who also broke his own single-season franchise home run record for a shortstop set last year. This, despite missing weeks to a bruised heel.

Brett Gardner (12), Greg Bird (11), and Neil Walker (9) have all contributed, as have newcomers Luke Voit (7 homers in 28 games) and Andrew McCutchen (4 in 14). New York’s power production from its circular lineup is unrivaled throughout baseball.

2018 home runs by defensive position

Team C 1B 2B 3B SS LF CF RF DH/P T
Team C 1B 2B 3B SS LF CF RF DH/P T
NYY 28 26 23 24 31 16 27 37 28 241
BOS 9 22 7 22 23 20 18 35 31 189
CLE 16 29 15 37 34 17 8 13 30 201
HOU 17 17 19 28 19 16 20 25 29 190
OAK 6 29 22 28 12 17 23 25 41 205
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com, table by Brett Borzelli

With Judge’s impending return, and Stanton and McCutchen expected to spend time in left field, it’s conceivable that the Yankees will finish the year with 20 plus home runs from each of the nine defensive positions. That would certainly be a unique feat.

Home runs aren’t the only manifestation of power on the baseball diamond. The Yankees also lead the majors with 54 sacrifice flies. Although Andujar (40) is the undisputed doubles king of New York, the Yankees have also gotten an impressive tally of two-baggers from throughout the lineup.

2018 extra-base hits by defensive position

Team C 1B 2B 3B SS LF CF RF DH/P T
Team C 1B 2B 3B SS LF CF RF DH/P T
NYY 56 51 51 66 62 43 49 63 59 503
BOS 32 59 38 51 74 66 68 81 64 541
CLE 45 49 45 78 89 56 32 42 55 488
HOU 41 52 52 76 49 44 46 49 59 473
OAK 37 61 58 71 47 48 54 66 69 526
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com, table by Brett Borzelli

Some teams rely on a handful of guys for most of their power and run production. For example, the Red Sox have gotten 48% of their home runs from J.D. Martinez (41), Mookie Betts (29), and Xander Bogaerts (21), while only four other players have reached double digits. The Athletics have gotten 21% of their long balls from Khris Davis (43).

Teams built that way sometimes run into problems in the playoffs, if one or more of their top producers run into a cold streak. The Yankees possess the talent to endure slumps from guys. They already have, and kept chugging along. Plus, opposing hurlers can’t pitch around anyone in New York’s lineup (when everyone is healthy). The next guy up can do some damage, including hitting one over the fence. There are simply no easy outs in the Bombers’ circular batting order, and this could prove to be a decisive advantage once the postseason begins.