By Sweeny Murti
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Do the Yankees really hit too many home runs?
We’ve been through this before, haven’t we? These are not the Bronx Bunters. The Yankees are built to hit home runs, and they have been for an awfully long time.
I know that the Yankees lost in the postseason last year to Detroit because they failed to get a big hit when it counted. But the Yankees weren’t over-matched or out-managed or out-smarted or out-anything. They lost! They lost by one run in the final game of a best-of-five to a Tigers team that won 95 games in the regular season, only two less than the Yankees. Should we be that shocked and distraught? Just one hit would have sent the Yankees to the next round. It’s not as if they were dominated to the point of dismantling the team.
And despite what you may think, the Yankees are in prime position to again win 95 or so games and get into the postseason. At this point the Angels and Rangers both appear to be the teams you would least like to face in a playoff series. Could they shut down the Yankees? Perhaps, but it’s hardly a given, and it’s hardly a reason to think the Yankees need more bunting and singles hitters. They are who they are.
There are two things I hear constantly from fans that I feel are ideas they are clinging to without actually looking at the evidence:
First, that the Yankees can’t win in the postseason as a team that relies on home runs. Remember Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Chris Chambliss, Reggie Jackson, Bernie Williams, Jim Leyritz, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, David Justice, Derek Jeter, Aaron Boone, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui?
I’m probably forgetting a few, but I seem to remember all of them hitting some big home runs in the postseason. Off the top of my head, I’m struggling to come up with a list of great sac bunts in Yankee postseason history.
Second, that the Yankees can’t beat good pitchers like they’ll face in October with this offense. What do David Price, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, CJ Wilson, R.A. Dickey, and Gio Gonzalez all have in common? All of them made the All-Star team this year AND all started games that the Yankees won. Good pitchers, the kind of pitchers you face in October, and the Yankees beat all of them. And if Ivan Nova had pitched better last Sunday they would have beaten Jered Weaver, whose first half numbers were literally being compared with Sandy Koufax.
Listen—I’m not here to tell you that the Yankee offense isn’t flawed. Of course, there are times when they can be pitched to and it is quite possible they will lose in the postseason. But to say it is an absolute certainty because they hit too many home runs and don’t beat good pitchers is flat out wrong.
Luis Sojo can hit a 14-hopper through the middle 100 times and it doesn’t always get through. But hit a ball into the seats, and it’s always a home run.
This Yankee offense isn’t perfect. But they are built to hit home runs, so why don’t we just let them keep doing it. After all, it’s only taken them to the best record in baseball so far.
And there’s a better chance than not that the Yankees win or lose in October because of their pitching, not their hitting.
But that’s a story for another time.
Well, do they hit too many homers? Make your case in the comments below…