Could we be seeing the greatest Yankee team of home run hitters ever? Better than the 1927 Babe Ruth team? Better than the Mickey Mantle years? Let’s face it, today baseballs are leaving the field and denting seats, walls and cardboard people like the carpet bombings of WWII.
Are these Yankees that good? We will have to take a trip down memory lane, to gather some information first, before that question is answered correctly. But this unbelievable offensive onslaught of home run power is something that can not be looked at lightly. 19 homers in three games (a new major league record) and 5 in one inning last night is quite amazing. No Yankee team has ever done either of those two things.
So what is it? I hate to throw cold water on this BBQ but there are some things that have made this different from what we have seen in baseball all of our lives. During the steroid era, only a handful of players were breaking home run records. That was uncovered and baseball has, as far as I know, put an end to that. But today we see everyone in the lineup a threat to hit one out of the park. From the leadoff hitter to the number nine slot.
Today’s baseball has flattened seams and a harder surface. A scout friend of mine told me that when he held up a ball used at the big league level and one from the minor leagues and dropped them together, the big league ball bounced 18 inches higher. The flat seams do two things. First the pitchers have a harder time getting a good grip for their breaking balls and the ball when hit has less resistance as it goes through the air. The ball is juiced up plain and simple.
Next is the quality of pitchers today. The best pitchers are starters. They average 6.2 innings or less in a nine inning game and even less in these seven inning shams. That means that hitters are facing more pitchers of less quality. Add the fact that pitchers are shuffled back and forth from training sites, where they are not pitching in real game situations and you have a good scenario for big league hitters facing minor league pitchers.
Pitchers can not be used like a car that sits and waits for you to turn the key. They need to watch games at the level they are at between appearances. They need to learn the hitters. In some cases their pitching coach is watching them at home on TV and can only communicate after the game. In a nut shell, hitters are like buffalo hunters picking off what they want from a stampeding herd.
Yes, they still have to hit the ball but when guys like DJ LeMahieu gets to slam a blistering 48.7 mph meatball off of Santiago Espinal, who is listed as a shortstop, pitcher and third baseman, something is wrong. Do you think the ’27 Yankees faced the pitchers I have described here? Yea, I didn’t think so.
So when MLB and all the other media sites go gaga over the unbelievable performances of this new baseball phenomenon, I will be watching some black and white films of baseball from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. A time when the game was played without all the hyped up numbers, money and flashing lights. When bunting was an important part of the game. When only the number 3, 4 and 5 hitters were home run threats. When fans kept score on a program. When a home run was special and not something that happens every two or three innings of every game.
Congratulations to the Yankees and all the other clubs for giving baseball fans an amazing display of power and an awesome amount of home runs in this 60 game schedule. After all, isn’t that what baseball is all about today?
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