When Jorge Posada deposited a Jason Frasor pitch into the second deck at Rogers Centre last night, he became the seventh Yankee to reach the 20 home run mark. Not many teams have seven guys who hit 20 or more homers. In fact, Jorge pushed the Yankees into a tie for first place all time, with the 1996 Orioles, 2000 Blue Jays, and 2005 Rangers. At the rate the Yankees have knocked pitches out of the park this season, this feat isn’t completely unexpected.
With 28 games left to play, Derek Jeter will have plenty of chances to put his team in first place by itself. He needs just three home runs to reach the milestone, and is right on pace to hit it. Not that the Captain really cares. “I could care less if I ever hit another home run,” he told reporters. Classic Jeter. Not that he’s wrong. It’s a pretty meaningless record in the grand scheme of things. More than anything, it’s a testament to how well this offense has hit.
It doesn’t look like the Yankees will tie the record for most players with 30 or more homers, four, held by 10 teams. Unsurprisingly, four of those squads are the Colorado Rockies, from 1995 through 1997, and then again in 1999. Mark Teixeira is over 32 already, but the next closest, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon, are ate 24.
As a team the Yankees have 210 home runs, tops in the AL by a decent margin. That puts them on pace for 253 homers (254 rounding up), which would fall 11 short of the all-time record of 264 set by the Seattle Mariners in 1997. The Yankees team record is in sight, though. They hit 242 as a team in 2004. The only way they don’t reach that is if they decide to rest their starters amply in the final weeks of the season. (Which, may I add as an aside, didn’t work too well in 2006.)
Many will write off this achievement, saying the Yankees are propped up by the comfy dimensions of the new Stadium. Yet that completely discounts the bombing they’ve done on the road. Their 93 road homers also leads the league. With a team .832 OPS on the road, it’s tough to argue that they’re getting it all done at home.
The homers aren’t necessarily essential to the team’s success, but they’re sure fun to watch. The sheer number of them, both the raw totals and compared to the rest of the league, demonstrates what an offensive force the team has become — or returned to being. It’s one more fun aspect in an eminently enjoyable 2009 season.