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?