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Monday, December 30, 2013

25 homers home and/or road: Roger Maris.

Roger Maris hit 28 home runs (HR) in 1958 playing for both the Cleveland Indians (9) and Kansas City Athletics (19) in 583 at bats (AB).  Home/road: 10/18.  Home/road rate (AB/HR): 31/18.3.  In 1961 Maris set the record with 61 HR.  What happened?
Roger Maris, Cleveland Indians
Baseball Digest March 1957
Wikimedia Commons
Roger Maris, New York Yankees
Baseball Digest October 1960
Wikimedia Commons

June 15, 1958: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with Dick Tomanek and Preston Ward to the Kansas City Athletics for Woodie Held and Vic Power.

December 11, 1959: Traded by the Kansas City Athletics with Joe DeMaestri and Kent Hadley to the New York Yankees for Hank Bauer, Don Larsen, Norm Siebern and Marv Throneberry.

December 8, 1966: Traded by the New York Yankees to the St. Louis Cardinals for Charley Smith.

Must have been the ballpark, Yankee Stadium.  That's the usual knee jerk reaction.  Click link to view detailed data.

Yearhome AB/HRroad AB/HRTeamhome ABhome HRroad ABroad HRABHRYearRate % DifRate H-RHR: H-R

Rate % Dif: Rate H-R (home rate - road rate) divided by home rate.  Rates are AB/HR.

The home/road HR rates for Maris are pretty even, including for 1961, the season which would concern most people.  But notice that Maris hit 26 HR on the road in 1960, before expansion diluted pitching and within the old 154 game schedule, which increased 5% in 1961 in the American League to 162 games.  And his 1960 road HR rate was 42% better than his home HR rate in 1960.

25 HR either at home or, more importantly, on the road suggests that the batter is capable of hitting 50 HR in a season.  That will be explored for all batters in subsequent posts.

How did Maris improve?  No, it wasn't having Mickey Mantle batting behind him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011  Fat Mike gets it wrong ... again.

Fat Mike was droning on about how new Yankee manager Ralph Houk would eventually move Maris into the third spot in the Yankee lineup with Mickey Mantle fourth, i.e., switching and reversing their order in the Yankee lineup.  WRONG!

Houk's predecessor Casey Stengel had already done that in 1960, the first Yankee season for Maris.  In 1960 Mantle batted third in 67 games and fourth in 46; Maris batted fourth in 65 games and third in 40 games.  In 1960 from Sept. 17 through Oct. 2 in the final 14 games of the regular season: Maris third, Mantle fourth...

It took Houk until game 30 in 1961 to finally put Maris in the third spot in the batting order for good.  Prior to game 30 Maris started 11 games batting third.  After that the only games that Maris started and did not bat third were three games in which Mantle did not start and Maris batted fourth.  In 1961 Mantle batted fourth in every game that he started.

So The Mick might have helped Maris in 1961 but not much in 1960.  Drugs?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012  On the potential of a chemical Bonds: Possible effects of steroids on home run production in baseball

Just because a batter has a huge increase does not mean it's because of steroids.  For instance Carl Yastrzemski hit 44 HR in his triple crown season, 1967.  His previous HR: 11, 19, 14, 15, 20, 16.  Yaz improved more than 100%.

Of course the coaches of the 1963 San Diego Chargers of the American Football League provided steroids to the players, so who the heck really knows what was going on even back then.

Football's first steroids team: the 1963 San Diego Chargers - ESPN
Pumped-up pioneers: the '63 Chargers
Updated: February 1, 2009

But Yaz did not break the home run record so he was OK with the baseball steroid zealots.

That football article traces steroid use back to 1959.  Probably Maris matured physically, especially as a ball player.  Future posts on "25 homers home and/or road" will deal just with that fact, not possible use of performance enhancing drugs (PED).

Somewhat related but cool on its own:

Saturday, December 14, 2013  Season Home Run record by team progressive.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Johan Santana and A.J. Burnett are available free agent pitchers Yanks should consider. And other thoughts on Tanaka and the Yankee mess.

A.J. Burnett?  Did I just write that?  Consider bringing back A.J.?  That shows just how much trouble the Yankees are in.  For a Yankee fan to even think about a guy we couldn't get out of town fast enough.

Friday, September 20, 2013  Yankees need to clean house.

A fish rots from the head so the cleaning needs to start with the Steinbrenner Kids ... the Yankees need new owners.  Easier said than done ...

some specific people who need to go.

1. Randy Levine, president ...

2. Brian Cashman, general manager.  Cashman worked his way up from an intern, hired as a friend of the family.  Cashman put up with the worst of George's behavior towards his employees, one humiliation after another.  But Cashman learned and became a good GM.  Unfortunately, Cashman is now too full of himself and too much at odds with Levine to evolve into a new type of executive.  His thinking is stale and the Yankee farm system was unable to supply good players during this season of need.

3. Joe Girardi, field manager...   Baseball must stop using former players as field managers.

4. Derek Jeter, shortstop...  No reasonable baseball person would rely on him to play shortstop next season and Jeter does not hit with enough power to be a designated hitter (DH).

5. Ichiro Suzuki, outfield.  I won't beat a dead horse but this guy was way overrated even at his peak, which is long gone.  No amount of marketing benefit should keep him on the Yankees.

Rather than go through the entire roster let's just say that none of these players is indispensable, including Robinson Cano.

Sunday, December 8, 2013  Musical chairs Yankee style.

The one position the Yankees did not need to fill was center field.  However, incumbent Brett Gardner is being replaced with Jacoby Ellsbury...

Ellsbury is an upgrade but hardly one worth $153 million over seven years.  That money could have been spent on new pitchers.  The Yankees have lost starters Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes and not added any pitching.  They have resigned Hiroki Kuroda (born Feb 10, 1975) for one year.  Gerald Ford was president when he was born.

With so many holes to fill, why fill a non-hole?

Letting Robinson Cano go was the smart move...

In right field the Yankees obviously could have brought back Curtis Granderson who signed with the Mets for $15 million for each of four years.  Instead they signed Carlos Beltran for the same annual pay for three years.

Granderson born: March 16, 1981    OPS+ 117
Beltran born: April 24, 1977    OPS+ 122

Beltran will be 39 in his final Yankee season.  Granderson will be 37 in his final Met season.

Oh, and in addition to Andy Pettitte retiring, relief pitcher Mariano Rivera also retired.  The Yanks saved money by letting lefty relief pitcher Boone Logan walk.  Cashman also missed the boat on bringing back a low cost starter, Bartolo Colon, who signed a fairly reasonable two year deal with the cheap Mets.

Apparently, the Yankees are putting all their pitching eggs in one basket: Japanese free agent starter Masahiro Tanaka, 24-0 in 2013.  Until a few days ago it seemed likely that his team would not even let Tanaka leave for the U.S.  What the heck kind of planning are the Yankees doing?

With the Yankees so obviously in need of starting pitchers, even if they sign Tanaka, they will probably pay much more than needed and because of their foolish spending on Ellsbury and catcher Brian McCann, signing Tanaka may put the Yankees over the 2014 team salary cap of $189 million and trigger a 50% luxury tax, which will hamper their ability to sign future young star players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton.

Plus, I'm not nuts about Tanaka.  Not for what the Yankees will have to pay.  His SO/9 are trending down:
2011 9.6
2012 8.8
2013 7.8

Yu Darvish was the Japanese pitcher I wanted the Yankees to sign two years ago.  Instead he went with Texas where he struck out 221 in 2012 and led the league with 277 in 2013.  SO/9:
2012: 10.4
2013: 11.9

In his final three seasons in Japan at the same age as Tanaka, Darvish was trending up in SO/9:
2009 8.3
2010 9.9
2011 10.7

What the heck are the Yankees doing?  About ten years ago they loaded up on star quality players:
Jason Giambi
Alex Rodriguez
Gary Sheffield
Hideki Matsui.

Ellsbury and McCann do not have star power.  Nor does Carlos Beltran any more.  Maybe the Yanks hope that Tanaka will provide that but he will pitch only every fifth game and it's very difficult for any pitcher do be a team leader.  They just don't play enough.

It's obvious that Jeter and Suzuki are not on the team for their current playing ability but more for what the Yankees seem to perceive will be fan interest.  Is their any Yankee fan left in this galaxy who wants a Derek Jeter shirt who does not already have one?  How many Japanese fans will care about Ichiro Suzuki now that there are four outfielders ahead of him?  And even mainstream media people may finally recognize just how colossally overrated Ichiro has been throughout his career, especially now.

Which brings us to Burnett and the infinitely more attractive practical possibility of Johan Santana.  Both are old and probably can be signed for reasonable amounts, maybe even with incentive laden deals.  Santana was headed to the Hall of Fame when injuries derailed him.  If he is actually throwing well, what's the downside to signing him, even if he only starts pitching at mid-season?  He could take over for Michael Pineda, acquired from Seattle following the 2011 season. Pineda has yet to throw a single pitch for the Yankees and if he starts the 2014 season with them will undoubtedly be on a rigid pitch count that will expire about when Santana could come to the rescue.

And what if Tanaka is a flop, you know, like Cashman's other big signing from Japan: Kei Igawa who pitched 71 innings in 2007-2008?  That's 71 more than Pineda.  Igawa's SO/9 prior to joining the Yankees:
2004: 10.2
2005: 7.6
2006: 8.4

Friday, December 27, 2013

Lou Gehrig hit many more doubles on the road. Why? Apparently, the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium.

Aerial view Yankee Stadium September 1923.
Paul Plaine  Ballpark PrintsLLC

Sunday, December 22, 2013  Lou Gehrig hit many more doubles on the road. Why?

Lou Gehrig hit doubles per at bat 48.5% better on the road than at home in Yankee Stadium.

Quick look at home/road splits for all Yankees in two seasons:


I figured I was asking about the park.  So, what was it about Yankee Stadium?  I guess the short right field porch.  As can be seen in the photo above the original Yankee Stadium had a huge center field, about 490 feet straight away and the wooden bleachers extended to the foul lines.  That is the reason for the answer to a trick question:  How many home runs did Babe Ruth hit into the upper deck in Yankee Stadium?  Answer: none.  The right field grand stand was not extended into fair territory in right field until the the 1937 season.  Ruth's last Yankee season was 1934.  The left field grand stand was extended into fair territory for the 1928 season.  The original design was for the grand stand to completely enclose the field but it was implemented in stages and never all the way, not even in the current billion dollar version.  The only constant from the original to the refurbished in 1976 to the new park in 2009 has been the short porch in right field.

Cliff Blau sent this: Seamheads.com Ballparks Database.

In only eleven of the seasons from 1923 through 2008 was Yankee Stadium above league average in rate of doubles hit.  The first such season was 1960 with only 101, i.e., only one percent above league.  The rate appears to be generally higher for righty batters than for lefties like Gehrig.  From 1925 through 1938 when Gehrig played almost all his games the doubles rate was about 70% of league average for lefties at Yankee Stadium.  So lefties were worse by about 30%.

Gehrig's doubles rate was 15 (at bats divided by doubles)  However, his home/road split was 18.7/12.6.  As mentioned in the original post: "Lou Gehrig hit doubles per at bat 48.5% better on the road than at home in Yankee Stadium."  So it appears that Gehrig suffered even more than lefty batters generally in Yankee Stadium when it came to hitting doubles.  Gehrig's biggest doubles season was 1927 with 52: 16/36.  Rate 17.3/8.5  Again, lower is better.  Gehrig's home rate was more than double his road rate.

1 Don Mattingly 53 1986 25 NYY AL 162 742 677 117 238 2 31 113 53 11 35 1 1 10 17 0 0 .352 .394 .573 .967 *3/5D
2 Lou Gehrig 52 1927 24 NYY AL 155 717 584 149 218 18 47 175 109 84 3 21 10 8 .373 .474 .765 1.240 *3
3 Alfonso Soriano 51 2002 26 NYY AL 156 741 696 128 209 2 39 102 23 1 157 14 1 7 8 41 13 .300 .332 .547 .880 *4/HD
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/27/2013.

Lets look at the two other Yankee seasons with at least 50 doubles, one by a lefty batter (Mattingly) and the other by a righty batter (Soriano).

Mattingly: 23/30.  Rate: 13/9/12.9.

Soriano: 24/27.  Rate: 14/13.4.

Both Mattingly and Soriano were better on the road but pretty even.  Go figure.