Over the weekend in New York, the Phillies and Yankees combined for 12 home runs. With that barrage of long balls for two offensive powerhouses, Yankee Stadium has now witnessed 87 home runs through its first 23 games, and everyone and their uncles are calling the new park a bandbox.
Right now, it’s a little too early to say if — let alone why — the new park is truly a home run haven. With just two home months of the season behind us, we’ll have to assess how the stadium plays after its first full season, but the data is building in favor of the home run. According to Yankee officials, even one year won’t be long enough. They claim the wind patterns and home run effects will change when the old stadium is completely deconstructed.
For what it’s worth though, numerous factors are at play. Some of the home run explosion could be a result of the wind; some of it could be due to the hitter-friendly fences we discussed before Opening Day. No matter the cause, Yankee pitchers are growing frustrated with it.
Andy Pettitte and his fellow pitchers should get used to it though because the weather is expected to produce even more Yankee Stadium home runs. In a piece printed over the weekend and subsequently updated last night, AccuWeather writer Henry Margusity says that the expected summer humidity in the New York City area should increase the stadium home run totals. As he explains it, because humid air is warmer and less dense than cooler, drier air, the balls should continue to travel out of the stadium.
Margusity’s conclusion though warns us not to blame only the weather. “The reason for the number of home runs at the new Yankee Stadium is still out for debate, but one thing is sure, the weather may not be the entire factor,” he writes. “Maybe it is due to the dimensions of the field, the height of the fences in the outfield, the quality of hitters, or the quality of the pitching (or lack thereof).”
In all likelihood, the home run barrage — if one exists — is going to be due to a combination of those factors he and I have listed here. The Yankees will probably have to reassess the stadium after the season and determine if and how they want to push back the flat walls in left and right field. While a home run-friendly home works to the offense’s advantage, if the pitchers aren’t happy, something just might have to give.