Early on in the season, the Yankees were hitting homeruns like they were going out of style. Mark Teixeira was putting his April slump to rest with homer after homer, Curtis Granderson was smacking everything out of the park, 2007 Alex Rodriguez made a one-month cameo, and even Russell Martin was getting in the fun. “The Yankees are too reliant on the homerun!” was the popular chorus at the time, and every game we’d hear about how X% of their runs came via the homer. It was an ungodly number at the time, something like 60%, which is a little nuts.
But the season continued and, as expected, the Yankees’ offense started to normalize a bit. They were still hitting more homers than everyone else (they lead MLB with 125 dingers) but they weren’t coming with the same frequency as they had early in the season. Amazingly enough, they were still scoring a plethora of runs. Weird, I know. At 5.15 runs per game, they’re second behind the Red Sox (5.46) in overall scoring. No other team is over 5.0 and no other team is within two-tenths of a run per game of New York.
The graph above shows us two things to help visualize the offense. The blue line is the team’s plate appearances per homerun throughout the season, the axis on the left. They were sitting right around 20 PA/HR through the first 20 games or so, but it’s gradually risen and right now they’re at 28.8 PA/HR. That’s the best in baseball, as you’d imagine. Texas is in second at 31.1 PA/HR. The pink line is the team’s runs per game, the axis on the right. That stabilized about a month into the season and has hovered at just over five runs per game since early-May. The homers aren’t coming as often, but the runs are still being scored at the same pace.
The Yankees haven’t hit a homerun in four games now, not since Andruw Jones whacked a pair in Toronto late last week. In fact, the only two players to hit a homerun since A-Rod hit the disabled list are Jones and Derek Jeter. Go figure. The Yankees are 3-1 in those homerless games and since the 42nd game of the season (the first time they jumped over 25.0 PA/HR), they’re 33-18. That’s a .647 winning percentage, a 105-win pace over a full season. The Yankees offense isn’t reliant on the homerun, they’ve been scoring plenty of runs without them for two and a half months now because Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher and pretty much everyone else is getting on base at a better than league-average rate. The “too many homers” fad was just that, a fad.