Yankees must regain their home field advantage in the second half

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(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

From 2009-13, no team in baseball had more wins (258) or a better winning percentage (.637) in their home ballpark than the Yankees. They dominated in Yankee Stadium, outscoring their opponents by more than one full run per game (1.002 runs per game, to be exact) in the Bronx over that five-year stretch. The team had a home field advantage and knew out to use it.

That home field advantage has not existed in 2014. The Yankees came into the All-Star break at a mediocre 47-47 overall due in part to their inability to win consistently at Yankee Stadium — they are 18-23 at home and have been outscored 192-147 in the process. That’s an average of 1.10 runs per game. They have the fifth lowest home winning percentage (.439) in baseball and they’ve also been out-homered 58-47 on their own turf. That’s just not something that should happen. A team should be built for its home park.

Earlier this week, Buster Olney (subs. req’d) subjectively ranked the remaining schedules of each contender, putting the Yankees tenth out of 17 teams. (Tenth most difficult remaining schedule, seventh easiest, that is.) That ranking is based primarily on the New York’s 41 remaining home games, the most in baseball. Here is Olney’s blurb:

10. New York Yankees
Home/away: A whopping 41 games at home (including the first 10 games after the All-Star break); 27 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 34
Schedule notes: The Yankees’ rotation injuries will hurt them, but if playing many games at home provides any kind of an advantage, manager Joe Girardi‘s team will certainly have it. The Yankees also have six games left in July against Texas, and three in August against the Houston Astros.
Big finish: After a seven-game homestand against the Jays and Orioles, the Yankees close out their regular season in Boston.

Beyond the Box Score says the Yankees have the second easiest remaining schedule among AL teams in terms of opponent’s winning percentage. If you prefer a more analytical approach, Jeff Sullivan used projected WAR to analyze the remaining schedule and found the Yankees have the toughest second half schedule in the AL. Not by much, but the toughest based on his method nonetheless. That’s not reassuring.

Anyway, it should be obvious where I’m going with this: the Yankees need to play better at home in the second half. It’s a must if they want to at least challenge for a postseason berth and not throw in the towel on Derek Jeter‘s final season. The schedule works in their favor in that they have so many remaining home games, so the opportunity will be there. Now they have to hold up their end of the bargain and capitalize.

Now, it’s not just one reason why the Yankees have struggled at home. They average only 3.56 runs per game with a team 94 wRC+ in Yankee Stadium, both below-average and middle of the pack. On the other hand, they allow 4.66 runs per game at home with a team 4.15 FIP, which is awful. Both are among the bottom five marks in the league. They’re not scoring enough runs and they’re allowing too many runs. Losing Baseball 101.

There are two problems here, the run creation and run prevention, which is true for the team overall. The offense actually seems like it’ll be easier to fix. A big part of that is getting both Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran going, something that has to happen if the team wants to contend anyway.  The pitching … well that’s a different matter. Masahiro Tanaka‘s injury is a devastating blow and there’s no way to replace him. Brandon McCarthy is a good fit for Yankee Stadium as an extreme ground ball pitcher, plus new rotation Shane Greene is a big ground baller as well. Another trade feels inevitable.

The Yankees have been hit hard by injuries (especially pitching injuries) this year and they were able to tread water through the first half. Continuing to tread water is not good enough though. If the Yankees want to push for a postseason berth — and there are no indications they will do anything but that right now — they have to starting playing better immediately. That starts at home in Yankee Stadium. Their first ten games after the All-Star break are in the Bronx and that is the perfect time to turn the home field disadvantage around.

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  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Yes.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      That was honestly a test in order to see if other comments popped up.

      In all seriousness, I agree that, without McCann and Beltran offering some stability, the climb is that much steeper.

      At the very least, two months of smoke and mirrors with the pitching staff isn’t impossible, but they need a healthy Tanaka back and another reliable starter added to the mix.

  • Farewell Mo

    Problem with rebuilding home field advantage is Cashman built a team without much power for a park that favors power hitters.

    It’s much easier said than done.

  • willie w

    A team should be built for its home park.

    Cashman is an incompetent idiot

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Doesn’t rhyme.

      • The Great Gonzo

        No did it follow the traditional willie w format of:

        Incoherent nonsense

        Made up facts

        Everyone is an Idiot

        More incoherent nonsense.

        • willie w

          I guess you have trouble keeping up with intelligent people
          you should have stayed in school past 6th grade

          • Old Man Time

            I guess you I have trouble keeping up with intelligent people
            you I should have stayed in school past 6th grade

            /Fixed your post.

        • willie w

          the only people I believe I ever call idiots are Yankee management
          if you don’t agree then you are clueless I guess

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I call Yankee management idiots
            The team is a mess
            If you don’t agree
            Then you are clueless, I guess

            • willie w

              RIGHT !!!!!

              thank you for agreeing and clearing that all up !

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                Doesn’t rhyme and, oh snap, maybe he IS DUTCH.

          • The Great Gonzo

            Except, of course, where 30 seconds before this you tell me I shoulda stayed in school past the 6th grade. And you didn’t even make a prose out of it. Consider me disappointed.

            And we all know the ultimate sign of intelligence is going on the interwebs and calling someone light years more successful than you an incompetent idiot. COMPLETELY LEGIT

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      A team should be built for its park.

      Cashman is an incompetent idiot

      Oh the things that some people will say

      At least those that are mostly illiterate.

      • The Great Gonzo

        Nailed it

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Willie, take note.

        You need to step up the trolling game, son.

        • willie w

          I don’t troll asshole
          I state what is apparent from the facts

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I don’t troll, asshole
            I state what is apparent from the facts
            If you don’t like my language
            Then kiss my willie w…….acts?

            • Darren

              Hey, who’s stealing my old haiku memes of yesteryear?!?!

              • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

                No one, because those aren’t haikus.

                As a great educator once said, “A haiku is a Japanese poem that doesn’t rhyme, and is totally stupid.”

    • Steve (different one)

      “A team should be built for its home park.”

      “From 2009-13, no team in baseball had more wins (258) or a better winning percentage (.637) in their home ballpark than the Yankees”

      But I agree, the Yankees never should have let Dayton Moore guest GM for those 5 years.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        ietc

    • WhittakerWalt

      Soriano was supposed to provide power.
      McCann was supposed to provide power.
      Beltran was supposed to provide power.

      In other words, like we’ve said a thousand times already, those guys need to hit more (it’s obviously too late for Soriano).
      If the guilty parties were hitting at all like we expected them to, this team would look like a team that’s built for this ballpark.
      I suppose the slumping lineup is Cashman’s fault?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        1. Cashman failed.
        2. If Cashman did not fail, then see #1.

        • willie w

          stop your trolling you asshole shithead

          • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

            All this name calling will only lead to one thing, son.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              No punctuation. He is clearly NOT DUTCH.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Doesn’t rhyme.

            This dude.

          • trr

            How ’bout stopping the name calling, and having a civil, adult discussion about our different opinions?

  • RetroRob

    They are short of quality left-handed power and left-handed pitching.

    • The Great Gonzo

      In fairness… NO THEY’RE NOT.

      McCann, Beltran, Tex, Ells, Gardner, Johnson are (on paper) a quality LH Power lineup. The problem is they have not played like one. I don’t know how you build a better one last winter, knowing what we now know…

      Quite literally the same issue we complain about in every thread. The hitters aren’t hitting. Rinse, repeat.

      • Farewell Mo

        In reality….OH YES THEY ARE.

        You’re really going to use Brett Gardner as an example of a power hitter when the most he’s ever hit in a season is the 9 he’s hit this year?

        Ellsbury? Take away his one outlier season and he’s never even hit double digit HRs in any of his other 7 seasons.

        Beltran-37 years old with bad knees and now an elbow at the age where he could fall off the cliff any season….which he’s done this year.

        Kelly Johnson-16 homers each of the last 2 years, maybe a decent complimentary piece best case scenario but certainly not core hitter in a power hitting lineup

        Teix-coming off wrist surgery. He’s done better than most expected but he’s been steadily declining especially from the left side for 4-5 years now

        Coming into the season, this team on paper didn’t look like a great fit for YS3 and that’s how it’s played out.

        • The Great Gonzo

          Listen dude, it is what it is. 7 guys who can hit LEFT HANDED with double digit HR power in a stadium with a short porch and a jet-stream to beat the band? I think 29 other teams sign up for that in a cocaine heartbeat.

          Next time we’ll make sure to go Dunn/Uggla/Giambi/Swisher instead of KJ/Beltran/Tex/Gardner. Those are left handed power hitters. That wins 100 games in Yankee Stadium I guess?

          • Farewell Mo

            Don’t really know what your point is but coming into the season, it was pretty apparent that the Yankees were short on power and were going to have to depend on strong starting pitching, a strong bullpen and stellar OF defense from Ellsbury and Gardner.

            You named a bunch of lefty “power” hitters several of which were unlikely to hit even double digit homers and the rest maybe 20-22 HRs best case scenario?

            • WhittakerWalt

              Quick, the Yankees should have signed…?
              Let’s hear it.

              • JAG

                Shin Soo Choo?

                • WhittakerWalt

                  I thought that would be a good signing, I will admit.
                  But if Choo was on the Yanks right with that robust .738 OPS everyone would just be calling it another #CASHMANFAIL.

      • RetroRob

        Oh, they have left-handed bats. Not disagreeing with that at all.

        I’m talking about power lefty bats and productive ones. McCann and Beltran as productive and quality bats is what’s missing.

        So in essence we’re saying the same thing. The fact that Gardner is leading the team in total bases and is near the top of all the offensive categories says it all. He’s not the problem, but he points to the problem!

        • The Great Gonzo

          Completely agree. The fact that you have 3 power hitting leftys (plus another 3 that have double digit HR power), but one has sucked and one has been hurt (and NEITHER of them is the guy who missed all of 2013 with a wrist issue) is a tremendous problem.

    • pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

      You mean right field power hitters and pitchers who can get lefties out.

  • 461deep

    In most years YS helped Yanks lefty hitting line-up but this years lack of power has allowed visiting teams to thrive more thus the loss of home advantage. Team probably must win at least 38 of 68 .559 to make playoffs at 85 wins. Angels look good for 1st WC so M’s, Royals, Tribe, Jays all in hunt too at this juncture. Team had pretty good first 6 weeks behind good pitching but mostly mediocre since. Turn-ups or- downs happen so we will see. Age related fatigue a concern plus O’s looking like 90 win or better win team at the moment with latest performance.

    • The Great Gonzo

      I am not yet ready to buy the Os. There’s ALOT of baseball yet to play.

  • LarryM Fl

    The reality is the team does not possess the power hitters. In name as in past performances Ellsbury, Tex., McCann and Beltran should produce homers. This is not the case. It is not for a lack of trying just a bad/mediocre year. The season is not over by a long shot. The AL East is a weak sister so one team can get hot with facets of the game coming together. Our starting rotation and infield defense appear to be two facets of the game which will not improve significantly to mount a second half charge. IMHO, If we fall back further in the first week of second half play then become sellers of the little that we can spare Kuroda, McCann? I just would not touch Robertson and Betances.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I don’t know if it was ever really realistic to expect more than 20-25 from, maybe, one or two of them.

      Know who could have provided the needed power, but didn’t? SORIANO.

    • Farewell Mo

      I don’t know why people expected Ellsbury to hit HRs.

      Other than the fluke season he hit 32, his other 6 seasons he hit 3, 9, 8, 0, 4, 9 though some were injured shortened.

      This season he’s on a pace to hit 10 which is pretty much in line with what he’s done the rest of his career other than the 1 outlier.

      • trr

        Excellent point.
        It’s not always the ballpark, I’m sure many people thought the playing in YS would make McC a 30 hr guy; it’s not happening.

        • The Great Gonzo

          And Fenway Park was supposed to make Adrian Gonzalez a 50HR guy, but here we are…

          • Farewell Mo

            AGon is left handed. Since when did Fenway ever turn any left handed hitter into a 50 HR guy?

            • CS Yankee

              If AGon was an extreme pull, add in a Pesky pole….nah, I can’t get there either.

              • Farewell Mo

                Right.

                Fenway traditionally has been death to lefty power and lefty pitching, the opposite of Yankee stadium which only added to the rivalry since the teams were built so differently.

                • CS Yankee

                  Death I think is an overstatement but getting another 20-or-so jacks from AGon isn’t pratical…maybe the wrist, maybe the attitude.

                  Ortiz and CO have had success over death at Fenway.

                  Never bet on someone getting 50 a year regardless of park as even the all-time greats only have a few of those.

                  • Farewell Mo

                    Yeah “death” was probably too strong a word. I’d bet Ortiz would have averaged an additional 5-7 HRs per year mimimum at YS vs. Fenway though

                    Gonzo talking out of his ass in this thread had me a little riled up.

            • WhittakerWalt

              AGon hits the ball very hard to left field. Plenty of his homeruns go that way. I guess that was the idea, that he’d flick an extra 20 homers over the Monster.
              I guess Jesus had other plans.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Pretty much.

        Like I said in some other thread, I’d like to see 10-15. Would LOVE to see 15-20. I really don’t think I’m ever getting the latter.

        We want to see more from him because of what we’re paying him. If you want to keep your sanity with him, perhaps forgetting what he’s making is for the best.

        • Farewell Mo

          He could end up with a 4 fWAR season with a strong finish which is pretty solid value.

          If you expected power, you’re gonna be disappointed since his value is as a run prevention, high OBP and base stealing guy similar to Gardner.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Agree.

          • JGYank

            I always wanted to see what a lineup of Ells or Gardys would do. How many runs would they score? They would get on base and could steal left and right, but that team would have almost no power. But they’re average hitters overall and great baserunners so would that equal a good offense? Good thought exercise IMO.

        • RetroRob

          I figured 10-15. I suppose that’s even still possible as players can hit HRs in streaks, and he hasn’t had one of those.

          I agree on the salary. I don’t care what a player makes, with the exception during the Plan 189 threat period since that clearly was restricting the team on the field. Ellsbury got what the open market gave him. He’s a very good player and makes the Yankees better. I’m looking forward to both him and Gardner at the top of the line up for the next few years.

          They need to fix what’s behind them to take advantage of them being on base and their speed. Yup, easy words, not easy to do.

          • JGYank

            Spot on.

  • JGYank

    Obviously, lefties and power is a huge advantage in YS. We have the lefty bats, but they’re either underperforming (McCann, Johnson, Beltran batting lefty), or not a reliable power source (Gardy, Ells, Ichiro). They really only have Tex right now, and he’s been struggling with the shift and his BA for a while. This lineup did have a decent amount of power to start the year (McCann, Beltran, Sori, Tex, Johnson, etc.) but that hasn’t gone as planned so this offense has relied on baserunning while struggling with hitting for power and getting on base. They really don’t even have a lefty pitcher right now (besides Thornton, who is never used). At YS it’s really important to neutralize the power hitting lefties in the opponents lineup to help keep the ball in the yard. They have some ground ball pitchers, but even those guys haven’t done a great job of keeping the ball from going in the seats. Ex: McCarthy and Whitley. They’ve done a great job of building to this park in the past, but this year things didn’t go as planned and this offense has turned into speedsters trying to group some hits together and the pitching staff is full of righties. Some of these pitchers aren’t even supposed to be here. Bad combo for playing in the Bronx.

    • CS Yankee

      I would agree with everything here, less the Thorton cause he can’t locate at all (i get the theory though), if you broke it up a little versus one big blob.

      • JGYank

        I’m not advocating to pitch Thornton, just that we need lefty pitchers. That’s why CC fit so well here. Some guys, like Dellin can get any batter out regardless of handedness, but they’re only a few of those on our team.

        • vicki

          pick a stat; warren and kelley are better against left-handed hitters too. and of course drob. daley, claiborne and huffles all have a better lob% v. LHH, in limited time. thornton makes me chris-stewart-level mad.

          • JGYank

            Yeah some guys in the pen can get both out or have weird reverse splits, but without checking the numbers, our rotation probably has been roughed up by LHB. If we had vintage CC back, our rotation would not only get a great pitcher, but would add a valuable LHB killer for most of a game and some balance to a right handed rotation. That’s why he was such a great fit.

          • JGYank

            For a couple of days for some reason I wanted them to bring Thornton in (mostly to rest the others) but then I realized it was pointless. Most unneeded player on our roster probably.

  • JGYank

    To sum it up, our opponents have more lefty power (and more power in general), and are a better fit in our park. They probably have more lefty pitchers as well, but we don’t really have a lefty power bat performing well right now anyway (Tex is a switch hitter, so this doesn’t affect him). Since we lack lefty pitchers, teams can stack lefties in their lineup with no problems at all so they have the platoon advantage and take advantage of our ballpark at the same time. It’s hard to overcome those advantages.

  • Talal

    go yankees

    please do well this year

  • Tony

    The Yankees are boring without POWER. Unfortunately I think we are stuck in a malaise. I would consider trading Gardner for a power hitter. I just do not know if that is plausible.

  • Tony

    I cant watch this team. How I miss the mid 00’s teams. They didn’t win world series but at least it was fun to watch.

  • TWTR

    They best way to recapture their HFA is to put in place a multi-year plan and then patiently execute it.

    • vicki

      insanity.

      • TWTR

        *searches frantically for his meds*