Stark: Yankee Stadium HR controversy overblown

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In his latest Rumblings and Grumblings column, the verbose Jayson Stark took on the Yankee Stadium home run controversy. Since Stark’s piece features nearly 4000 words of non-Yankee items before getting there, let me just excerpt:

Those home runs might be flying. But we’re hearing that the Yankees don’t plan to make any firm judgments on the home-run propensity of the new Yankee Stadium until after the summer breezes kick in and the old stadium is dismantled.

The club has been told by its engineers that when the old park is out of the way, the wind currents off the East River should hit the new stadium differently and actually reduce home runs.

In the meantime, we’ve studied the home-run data over at hittrackeronline.com. And even though the new stadium has proven to be 55 percent easier to hit a home run in than the average park, data shows the wind effect might be less dramatic than popularly believed. For instance:

  • Of the 70 outside-the-park home runs hit at the new park through Wednesday, only three were estimated to have carried an additional 10 feet or more because of wind. And all three were hit on the same day (April 18).
  • Only 12 homers were estimated to have carried an extra five feet or more because of the wind (four of those 12 were just hit Tuesday and Wednesday, by the way) — but seven actually had their distance knocked down by five feet or more because they were hit into the wind.
  • And of those 70 home runs, 27 would have been home runs in all 30 parks in baseball, 43 would have been homers in at least 25 of the 30 parks and all but 18 would have been home runs in at least 20 of the 30 parks. Just two were judged to have been homers only in Yankee Stadium.

So is this just a place where pitchers make one gruesome pitch after another? Seems hard to believe that’s the only explanation. But that’s why all those engineers make the big bucks, right?

For those interested, the raw data, including number of stadiums at which a ball would be a home run, can be found at this page.

Now, I take issue with Stark’s conclusion. He says that “the wind effect may be less dramatic than popularly believed.” That’s not really what this study has shown. For all we know, without the wind, new Yankee Stadium would be playing like a pitcher’s park as the old one did.

What this study shows is that the stadium isn’t contributing to an explosion of home runs because of its dimensions. Based purely on distances traveled, balls that land behind the fences at new Yankee Stadium would land behind the fences at most Major League ballparks.

At the same time, though, the numbers trend toward the high end of a hitter’s park. According to Stark, 18 of 70 home runs would be out only at 10 of the 30 parks. That certainly puts the stadium is rarer company that A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia would like.

In the end, though, we’ll left with the same conclusion: The Yankees have played 19 home games, and it’s just too early to pass final judgment on the stadium’s weather effects and home run tendencies. But hey, what’s a few more words worth of spilled ink on the topic anyway?

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  • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

    I’m willing to bet most of the 18 went to right field. If they moved that wall back to where it was in the old place, I think the park would play for the most part like the old one.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      I agree. Take a look at Swisher’s last night as a prime example. Give the wall its curve back, and it’ll play mostly the same as YS II.

  • A.D.

    Olney v Stark battle on the issue

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      Team…?

  • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

    Also, I just realized how flawed Stark’s data is. All this proves is that the Yankees are not shorter than the shortest parts of every single ballpark. That does not mean that collectively, it is not the best hitters park out there.

    • A.D.

      Thats all he’s trying to prove, that it’s not really the ball park thats making normal fly balls into HR, but instead its the players on the field.

      • Chris

        I highly doubt the wind effect numbers. If it were that easy to calculate the wind impact, then it would have been done before the stadium was built.

        • BklynJT

          I totally agree. Often times people are quick to misuse numbers to support their points. I would be wary of just pulling statistics from many of the websites out there and using it as a golden fact, especially since there is little verification done on the data. It’s one thing if it’s coming from a trusted source (ie. mlb.com) but things come into question when the data is coming from some unverified source.

      • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

        No, what I’m saying is, that even if you said all 70 would have been out in 20 of the 30 parks, they are not the same parks for every one. Meaning home run A would be out in one group of 20, while home run B would be out in a different group of 20. It does not really give you an overall picture. I think it would be more constructive to look at the homers out to RF and asking how many of those would be out in other parks.

  • Chris

    When is demolition of the old stadium scheduled to be completed?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Early- to Mid-2010.

  • Cam

    This is one of those stories that just begs a “so what?” attitude from me. I mean, new park, new way that it plays. Simple. I’m sure Citi plays different than Shea, but who cares? It’s a new park! But watching sportscenter last night makes it sound like the yankees cheated and made it so this would be the way. Hate ESPN.

    • Zack

      Atleast we don’t have a wall that’s 300ft away that our guys can hit pop ups off of for doubles

  • huuz

    i cannot believe that people are actually trying to estimate how much further a specific homerun carries due to the wind. this is a fools’ errand.

    the air motion throughout the stadium changes on an instantaneous basis and full knowledge of the flow field is not known. at all. it is this type of information that is required to state how much further a given homerun at a given instant in time would have traveled. NOT the average air motion.

    • Clayton

      It is not necessary to know the instantaneous air motion through the entire stadium to create a good estimate of the affect of wind motions. The larger motions of the incoming wind would have a greater effect on the flow of a baseball and hit tracker takes into account the wind speed at different times of the game. The small effects from knowing all the wind motions probably only effects their numbers by a few feet at most.

      • huuz

        wrong.

        it is completely necessary to know the entire flow field to estimate the difference in travel for a given homerun, hit at a given instant in time. the average flow field has nothing to do with one specific homerun.

        if you want to comment about the typical influence of wind on hits over the course of a season, then the average can be useful.

        • Clayton

          Sorry, but in fluid dynamics of this size, the little differences in the jet-streams inside a stadium will have little effect on the distance a ball is going to travel because the speed of the ball itself as well as the wind speed coming into the stadium will be the determining factors.

          And I never said anything about the average flow field and it has little to do with this point.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    Earlier in the day, Francesa was saying how the game isn’t being played “the right way” at the new Stadium. Apparently hitting home runs is a bad thing.

    • Tony

      Hitting this many home runs IS a bad thing. See: Rivera’s expression last night.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        That was a legit home run though. It traveled around 420 feet and would have been out everywhere. Just because Rivera made a bad pitch does not mean the Stadium is bad.

      • Zack

        He gave up a 400ft HR to dead center, that’s the stadium’s fault?

    • http://www.twitter.com/MatthewHarris84 Matt H

      Francesa is a douche. He’s crazy about this stadium/HR thing.

      I read that same article and the site it referenced breaks it down pretty clearly.

      I also agree that we have to see what happens when the…gulp…old stadium is leveled and the wind patterns are changed.

      Francesa also has to get off suicide watch about Mariano, Jesus.

  • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

    The place is a bandbox, plain and simple. Swisher almost looked like he was jammed last night and I’ve seen Grady Sizemore and Denard Span barely flick at low pitches and knock it out.

    I don’t think we need any sample sizes. Maybe the HRs/game average will lower a tick, but I expect to see at least an average of 3/game the rest of the season. And the warm weather is coming!

    • Zack

      Since you dont like sample sizes why even finish the season? Just put Dodgers and the Blue Jays in the world series now

      • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

        You keep computing your sample sizes – I’ll be watching the games.

        • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

          Oh… My… God.

        • jsbrendog

          OAKTAG

        • Clayton

          Great comment or the greatest comment?

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          Congratualtions on winning “The ‘Donnie Baseball HOF’ Annual Eyesight Award”.

          SPEECH!! SPEECH!!

          • jsbrendog

            he sees it with his own eyes. so all us geeks with our spreadsheets can just go back to our mother’s basement..

            man that one’s been dormant for awhile

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      “The place is a bandbox, plain and simple.”

      Adding “plain and simple” does not give your point any more merit.

      Oaktag.

      • jsbrendog

        ::head explodes::

        it doesnt!!1!1!11!1

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    But that’s why all those engineers make the big bucks, right?

    Hah.

  • Brandon

    Oh my god, maybe they listened to me.

    I commented on an article the other day about how the ESPN baseball analysts should look at hittrackeronline.com at the Yankee Stadium home run data, before calling it “Coors Field East”

    The article, insider only, can be found here: http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/insider/news/story?id=4180870

    I cant figure out how to link it…

    • Brandon

      I guess it automatically linked it.

  • Rob in CT

    As others have noted, there are a number of possibilities (that are probably working together):

    1) The walls are different.
    2) Wind?
    3) SSS fluke

    I’ve seen about 3 HRs at the new stadium that I thought might not have made it out before. Two of them were last night: Swisher’s (a double off the wall probably) and Cano’s. The other was by Posada that basically hit the top of the wall. So maybe there’s something to it. On the flipside, there have been some absolute bombs hit – a couple by Melky of all people – that would have been out of Old YS, and pretty much any other Stadium in baseball for that matter.

    • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

      Maybe we should be focusing on the horrendous pitching instead.

    • The Lodge

      I agree. How do you explain the Loong Bombs? That’s not the wind. That’s not the park playing small.

      Is it the batter’s eye being better for picking up the ball? Doubtful.

      Just a fluke of SSS.

      • jsbrendog

        SSS computations are futile because what is now is fact!

        \conan’d

        • The Lodge

          \conan’d ?

        • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

          Very Zen of you.

          • jsbrendog

            link to your post about that uis it a band box plain and simple in 2010 when they have enough evidence to prove it is and then i will say you are right. as of now, no one is right. you cannot say it is a bandbox.

            • TLVP

              The sample size issue is more complex than most people here seem to understand. 20 games is too few to make an assessment of a players capabilities since we’ve got far too few observations – in effect maybe 80 PA’s

              20 games is also far too little so assess the quality of any team’s winning record

              Based on that baseball fans are used to disregard statistics based on 20 games.

              However to assess a stadium the issue is less clear. We’re talking about maybe 1200-1400 PA’s – twice that of any normal players normal season. If we had a player that hit 75 homeruns in 2 seasons i doubt anyone here would say the sample size is too small to say that he would be a very good homerun hitter.

              The counter argument would be that we’ve only experienced 20 types of weather and that is a fairly small sample size. Same thing with the number of picthers, etc, etc. That is true and a few days with homerun friendly weather can impact the figures but not this much if you ask me.

              It is also so that people fail to understand what it means when statistics reject an hypothesis. That would mean that the statistical confidence is not high enought to accept it as proven. The hurdle is normally set at 5% uncertainty. For instance, if it was 94% probable to be true that the new YS was highly HR friendly a statistical analysis would call the theory as “not proven”. In the real world however, 94% probability is pretty darn impressive. Please note 94% is an example and not based on any real calculation.

              In its current form the new park is most likely one of the 5-6 most HR friendly parks in baseball and that hurts the team especially if/when we get to post season (attrition of pitchers arms will be much worse for us than for our opponents). Pitching 200 innings in a season will be much tougher for the
              Yankees’ pitchers than for the league average. The BP would be taxed much harder. The stadium as is, is probably a major threat to WS win no 27…

              As for why there are more “real” long HR’s that can not be explained by dimensions and or weather, that can instead easily be explained by psychology. If a fly ball is much likelier to become a HR, more batters “swing for the fences” and that would in turn lead to more “real” HR’s. Batters are good at playing the percentages, and it is clear that all the players really belive that the new park is more HR friendly.

  • http://www.geeks2you.net Marc

    Hey what is Arods gritty nickname? I remember Gritt Gritner, but I can’t remember Arods!

    • jsbrendog

      nails krysecski?

      i dont remember how to spell the last name, its like mike kryshcehski lol

  • Steve H

    While he has some good points on this, he’s still a B-Jobber.

  • http://www.geeks2you.net Marc

    Ahh yeah the first name is right, I think the last was spelled differently, but close enough!

    • http://www.geeks2you.net Marc

      Nothing says gritty like Nails!

      • jsbrendog

        Krzyzewski

        the power of google

        • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

          That reminds me: When “Nails Krzyzewski” first came up on RAB, I wasn’t around so I just googled it and the first 5 or so links were all to RAB.

          We really need this dictionary that was mentioned on the chat today. If you are not around for one or two days, you get the feeling these comments are in some obscure foreign language.

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