clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Finding the best opponent splits in Yankees history

Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez have dominated the 2019 Orioles, but they aren’t the only Yankees to have owned one specific team.

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

By any stat, metric, or eye test you use, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez are obliterating the Orioles this season.

Sanchez has dominated Baltimore, hitting .341/.396/.955, with nine home runs. Yet somehow, that’s over 400 points of OPS lower than what Torres has done against that same Orioles team. In 50 plate appearances and 11 games against Baltimore, Torres is hitting .465/.540/1.233 with 10 home runs.

Even though the Orioles’ pitching staff is, we’ll say mediocre, you won’t find many better single seasons against one specific team that what they’re doing—especially Torres. With that in mind, let’s check out some of the other best domination of an opponent in Yankees history.

If you set a minimum of 50 plate appearances and order the list by OPS, then Gleyber Torres against the 2019 Orioles is currently the best in Yankee history and fourth all-time. In second and third is, not surprisingly, Babe Ruth. Those two Ruth years are actually against the same team, the Cleveland Indians. Funnily enough though, they were over a decade apart. In second is Ruth’s 1932 seasons against Cleveland, where he put up a 1.758 OPS. In third is Ruth against the 1921 Indians, where he had a 1.720 OPS. There is zero crossover between the two pitching staffs; Ruth was just a freak who was good for an exceptionally long time.

Torres, and maybe Sanchez, are each going to have a decent shot at breaking the Yankees’ single-season record for most home runs against one team. That record is currently held by Lou Gehrig against the 1936 Indians. Gehrig hit 14 against Cleveland that year. Incredibly, he had no multi-home run games against them. The Yankees played them 22 times that season, meaning Gehrig essentially hit a home run two out of every three games he faced Cleveland that year. Should they be healthy for the remaining seven games, Torres and Sanchez could reach 14 or more homers against the Orioles.

Baseball Reference has a statistic called tOPS+ which measure how well someone does in one particular split compared to the rest of their season. Once again, Torres’ 2019 against the Orioles is first. Jesse Barfield against the 1990 Orioles is second, but a more curious split is in third.

Ken Griffey’s 1984 season against the Red Sox comes in next with a 242 tOPS+. He went an impressive 21-for-45 against Boston that year, with nine extra-base hits. What makes it curious is that 1984 was a below average season for Griffey overall. Those 21 hits make up nearly 20% of his total for the season. He finished with a .702 OPS on the year, but without the Red Sox, that drops to .637.

If you want to go strictly by batting average, there’s Bernie Williams against the 1999 White Sox. Williams went a ridiculous 24-for-44 against Chicago. Only five were extra-base hits, which is what kept that incredible stat line from competing with Torres and Ruth.

Along those lines is the just dumb total of hits Joe DiMaggio put up against the 1936 St. Louis Browns. Thanks to the small leagues and balanced schedules, DiMaggio played 22 against the Browns that year and recorded 52 hits.

Those are some of the standout seasons I got from fiddling with the Baseball Reference Play Index. If you can remember another season where some player just crushed some poor team, feel free to add your own to the list.

If you’re wondering what arguably the worst season against one team is, shout out Andy Carey going 7-for-61 with zero extra-base hits against the 1956 Orioles, who weren’t even good.