CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Pebble Hunting: Buster... (06/25)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Overthinking It: Melky... (06/21)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Overthinking It: Why S... (06/29)
Next Article >>
What You Need to Know:... (06/26)

June 25, 2012

Overthinking It

What Does Everyone Have Against Homers?

by Ben Lindbergh

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

A homer is a hit too, you know that? Eventually everyone will believe that.”Joe Girardi
 

As much as most of us enjoy home runs, many of us can’t quite bring ourselves to trust them.

The Yankees have the best offense in baseball. Their .279 True Average entering last night trumped any other team’s. They haven’t scored the most runs in the majors, but that’s because of bad sequencing—they’ve hit very poorly in the clutch. Fortunately for Yankees fans, there’s no reason to expect that trend to continue. From here on out, they’ll keep hitting, and their hits will come at more opportune times. There’s really no reason to worry about the Yankees’ production at the plate.

That hasn’t stopped some people from worrying about it anyway. The Yankees, you see, hit a lot of home runs. And because they hit a lot of home runs, they score a high percentage of their runs when they hit them. A few years ago, Joe Sheehan dubbed the percentage of team runs scored via the homer the “Guillen Number,” in honor of Ozzie Guillen’s slugging White Sox. The Yankees’ Guillen Number before last night was 52.3 percent, over seven percent above the next-closest team’s (the Orioles, at 44.9 percent). That hasn’t prevented the team from posting the second-best record in baseball. Nor has it prevented some pundits from predicting their downfall.

This phenomenon is nothing new. Jay Jaffe wrote about it at the Pinstriped Bible over a year ago, when the Yankees were scoring a similar percentage of their runs via the homer and generating a similar amount of hand-wringing:

Never mind the fact that balls in play are subject to luck and defense, or that the one-run strategies are so often self-defeating ("If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get,” as the great Earl Weaver liked to say). To eschew either at the expense of the longball is somehow a moral failure and a predictor of future doom in the eyes of some wags.

According to the traditionalists, the best lineups manufacture runs. They don’t just have them handed to them with a single swing. They’re made up of a bunch of blue-collar batters who aren’t afraid to get their uniforms dirty. They steal and hit-and-run and sacrifice and squeeze and hit the ball to the right side to get the runner over.

Home runs aren’t hard-nosed. They make teams seem passive—people say that the Yankees “sit back and wait for a home run,” as if their offense were on welfare or about to go bankrupt if not for a bailout. As a species, we like to be in control, or at least to have the illusion of control. That’s why some travelers feel better about driving than they do about flying, even though planes are demonstrably safer. We like our teams to be in control, too, and teams that rely heavily on the homer are rarely a managerial move away from pushing a run across. They live and die by big swings, and when the big swing doesn’t come, they can’t do much to change their fate. So instead of praising their skill at scoring via the homer, people lament their struggles to score by other means.

Yesterday, the Yankees played the Mets, which meant that the game was on ESPN. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team of Dan Shulman, Terry Francona, and Orel Hershiser (particularly Shulman and Francona) brought up the Yankees’ reliance on the home run early and often. It started in the top of the third, when Shulman and Francona had the following exchange:

Shulman: To grossly oversimplify the Yankees’ offense this year, when they hit home runs, they win. When they don’t, they lose. It’s not quite that simple, but they rely on the home run more than any team in baseball. Joe Girardi says ‘I don’t care how we score them, as long as we score more than the other team,’ but over 52 percent of their runs come on homers. That’s by far the highest percentage in baseball.

Francona: You know, if I was Joe Girardi, I’d say the same thing, but—the good news is, they hit a lot of home runs, the bad news is, as you get towards playoff time, it’s harder to win that way. And they know that.

One batter later, Nick Swisher hit a three-run homer to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.

You’d think that would have been a sign. In the eighth, Robinson Cano added another home run to put the team ahead for good. Four of the Yankees’ six runs had come via the home run, and because of those six runs, they were winning the game. That didn’t stop the discussion from starting up again. Instead of portraying the homers in a positive light, the broadcasters chose to see them as an ominous sign:

Shulman: The Yankees lead the major leagues in home runs with 112. And they need them to score.

Francona: You know, they’ve become a little bit one dimensional, especially with [Brett] Gardner not in the lineup.

Shulman: They’re just 1-13 this year when they don’t hit a home run… There are those who feel, ‘Hey, it’s great, they’ve got this weapon, it’s all good.’ And there are those who feel once October comes, assuming the Yankees are playing in October, and you’re dealing with the better pitching teams, and the ball is not going to fly out of the ballpark as much—and then, Terry, can the Yankees manufacture a run here and there if they need to?

Francona: I know Joe Girardi gets tired of talking about it, because he gets asked about it and asked about it, but I think it’s a pertinent question, and one we’re not going to know. Because we know they’re most likely going to make the playoffs, but can they survive like this? It’s hard.

This is what’s known as a narrative. Narratives require no evidence. They just have to sound convincing, and this one does, if you don’t think about it too hard. After all, home runs are harder to come by in October. If you can’t score without them, how are you going to score?

Let’s see whether the numbers fit the narrative. Since the advent of the wild card in 1995, 132 teams have made the playoffs. Those 132 teams scored an average of 5.1 runs per game during the regular season, and they scored 36.5 percent of their runs on home runs.

Over the same period, 372 teams failed to make the playoffs. Those teams scored an average of 4.6 runs per game—about half a run less than the playoff teams. They scored 34.7 percent of those runs on home runs. So there’s our first factoid: from 1995-2011, playoff teams scored a higher percentage of their runs on home runs than non-playoff teams.

Okay, but Francona didn’t say that scoring a lot of runs on homers could keep a team out of the playoffs. He suggested that it might hurt a team that’s already made it to October. So what if we compare playoff teams to playoff teams?

Remember those 132 playoff teams I mentioned, the ones that scored 5.1 runs per game during the regular season? In the playoffs, they scored only 3.9, a decrease of about 23 percent. That’s not surprising: they were facing better pitchers, better defenders, and colder temperatures than they had during most of the regular season, so we’d expect them to score less often. What we want to know is whether the ones that were more reliant on home runs took a bigger hit.

So let’s split those 132 teams into the 66 that were most reliant on homers and the 66 that were least reliant on homers. When we do that, this is what we find:

Teams

Avg. Guillen #

Reg. Season R/G

Playoff R/G

Decrease

More Reliant on HR

40.0%

5.20

4.25

18.3%

Less Reliant on HR

33.1%

5.00

3.63

27.4%

The teams that were more reliant on home runs saw their scoring decrease by about 50 percent less than the others. Relying on the home run hasn’t made teams more vulnerable in October. If anything, it’s made them more October proof.

When you think about it, it makes sense that having a homer-hitting team would help. A home run is the only kind of hit that isn’t playable. A better defensive team converts more balls in play into outs, but home runs aren’t in play. In the playoffs, a team faces better fielders, and those fielders allow fewer balls to fall for singles, doubles, and triples. But almost all home runs are out of the reach of even the best outfieldes, so the opposing defense doesn’t matter. And while playoff pitchers are less prone to coughing up homers than the average arm, they’re also less likely to allow every other kind of hit. As hard as it might be to take them deep compared to the difficulty of doing that against an average pitcher, it’s even harder to string together enough hits of other kinds to score on them without going yard.

It’s true that the Yankees have a higher Guillen Number than any team that’s ever made the playoffs— the 2008 White Sox, at 47.5 percent, had the highest to date—but I can’t come up with a good reason why that would be worrisome. For one thing, their percentage is bound to come down. Only one team—the 2010 Blue Jays—has ever finished a season with a Guillen Number that high, and odds are New York’s Number is about to regress. The Yankees have the AL’s lowest batting average with runners in scoring position, which isn’t going to last. Once their luck in the clutch turns, they’ll score more of their runs on non-homer hits.

But even if the Yankees spent the whole season finding ways to kill time between three-run homers, it wouldn’t be a cause for concern. Playoff teams have higher Guillen Numbers than non-playoff teams, and playoff teams that have high Guillen Numbers keep more of their clout in October than those that don’t. If the Yankees weren’t good at hitting home runs, their reliance on hitting home runs would be a big problem. But the Yankees are the best team in baseball at hitting home runs. And even if it’s not what the narrative says, they’re better off for it.

Thanks to Dan Turkenkopf for research assistance.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

51 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Agent007

The anti-home run bias seems ludicrous. Would it be better to introduce an option, allowing teams to decline a home run and settle for a double? Will the Yankees sit Cano or Granderson in favor of Gardner? There's not a manager in baseball (now that Gene Mauch is gone) who would decline a homer. Stolen base attempts are entertaining. Runs scored on hits inside the park are dramatic, or at least more dramatic for a few more seconds. How many bases will the hitter get? Will the runner be thrown out at the plate? That's more fun than a home run trot. But...

Jun 25, 2012 06:13 AM
rating: 1
 
Lou Doench

It's like complaining that your football team scores too many touchdowns.

Jun 25, 2012 10:31 AM
rating: 3
 
ScottyB

More specifically, it is complaining about scoring too many touchdowns on 50 yard completions.

the narrative being that, against elite defenses in the playoffs, they may not be able to do that, and thus will have trouble scoring on long marches down the field.

The Pats' run of success should have quickly dismissed this idea as much as the Yanks' run of success.

Jun 26, 2012 12:38 PM
rating: 2
 
polishwonder

The Brewer announcers are constantly complaining about the Brewers dependence on homers too. The height of this stupidity was Bill Schroeder stating that you didn't want to hit a 3 run homer because it ends your rally.

Jun 25, 2012 06:39 AM
rating: 5
 
sydvicious
(52)

In my experience, most announcers are either non-players, and therefore could not hit, or failed players who could not hit. Therefore, when they were playing, were forced to play small ball to be perceived as productive to their teams. Baseball's conventional wisdom was largely formed during the Dead Ball Era, and reinforced in the sixties, when run scoring was at an extreme premium. The shadow of that era looms today, and most of the announcers watched that era on TV or were working in baseball during that era.

They don't trust that home runs are a repeatable stat, even for a heavy hitting team. They also believe that trying to hit home runs make a player a worse hitter. The large numbers of home runs of the 90s and 2000's they explain with steroids.

I suspect that this bias will always be there. Everybody likes to believe that they could bunt, move the runners over and steal bases if they somehow ended up playing ball today. Most people know they could not hit homers.

These same comments were being made by the media when the Moneyball A's were playing; it won't stop anytime soon.

Jun 25, 2012 06:50 AM
rating: 3
 
kozysnacker

Perhaps the better run production also relates to the presumably higher OBP that complements -or is a result of- the home run threat?

I'm not sure if there's been a recent study on the correlation between OBP and HR, but I suspect that relationship also plays a role in HR-happy teams' tendency to score more runs.

Jun 25, 2012 06:57 AM
rating: 0
 
SaberTJ

I would imagine a team whose offensive strategy is to work the count to try and find a pitch to drive. Now, that doesn't always mean the hitter will successfully hit that drivable pitch somewhere productively, but it sure is hard to hit a homerun if you treat offense like Starlin Castro.

Jun 25, 2012 11:14 AM
rating: 1
 
SaberTJ

My first sentence should say "I would imagine a team whose offensive strategy is to work the count to try and find a pitch to drive" would hit more HR's.

Jun 25, 2012 11:15 AM
rating: 0
 
JOARGE9481

Polishwonder, Do you remember a few years ago, McCarver during a Fox broadcast was shocked when then "guys in the truck" told him that teams on average score more runs in an inning when they lead off with a homerun rather than a walk? I always thought with the growing popularity of this great site and others such as THT, F-graphs, etc... that those covering games would be more informed. This is obviously not the case.

Jun 25, 2012 07:03 AM
rating: 6
 
MSGT8500

The 3-run homer killing a rally reminds me of this gem, which I found in an BP article...

"I think walks are overrated unless you can run... If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps. But the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time they're clogging up the bases for somebody who can run."
--Dusty Baker, Cubs manager (Chicago Daily Herald)Week of March 8, 2004


And Syd is mostly right, it comes from when many announcers where in their formative years either playing or learning their craft. But I think it's also that they are afraid of the newer advanced stats. It's something they don't understand so they dimish its importance by deriding those that use them as geeks or people that have never played. What the don't see, however, is that the younger generation is using those stats more than ever and it's becoming more common to see.

This is one of the reason I love watching Cubs broadcasts, Len Kasper works advanced stats into his commentary whenever he can, and goes out of his way to explain many of the ones he uses.

Jun 25, 2012 07:33 AM
rating: 2
 
polishwonder

I cannot see Dusty Baker on TV without thinking of this statement. I even named one of my fantasy teams "Walks clog the bases", in his honor.

Jun 26, 2012 14:58 PM
rating: 2
 
apbadogs

Did Schroeder ACTUALLY say that? And, if so, he's still employed?

Jun 25, 2012 08:08 AM
rating: 1
 
polishwonder

I'm afraid Schroeder actually said it. After a commercial, he sort of took it back and said that he knows that a 3-run homer is good, but it seems to take the momentum away. Since then he's been very careful in that situation. I assume someone in the truck told him how dumb that sounded.

Jun 26, 2012 13:25 PM
rating: 2
 
patrickg68

While HRs being an effective form of offense shouldn't be up for debate, what I think should be is whether or not it is good for the game for them to be so prominent. Now, I'm not talking about going back to 1968, but I think the game is more exciting when runs come from other forms of offense. Small ball (excluding the pure sacrifice bunt) is exciting. Guys flying around the bases is much more exciting than trotting around them.

Jun 25, 2012 08:13 AM
rating: 0
 
SaberTJ

I am fairly certain I yell at my tv a lot more often when my team jacks one over the fence than opposed to watching someone sprint around the bases.

You win games with runs, a homerun guarantees runs. I like them.

Jun 25, 2012 11:17 AM
rating: 2
 
patrickg68

I'm not saying HRs are never exciting. I'm saying that it's not good for baseball of offense is created solely by the sabermetric wet dream of a couple walks and a homerun. It's fun to watch aggressive baseball. Stolen bases, hit and runs, squeeze bunts are fun. Watching beer league softball, while effective, just isn't fun. You don't find the tactical side of the game interesting at all?

Jun 25, 2012 11:41 AM
rating: 0
 
Todd S.

The "sabermetric wet dream" is to outscore the opponent, period. More runs with less outs is a good thing, entertainment value has nothing to do with it. Winning breeds popularity. Nobody cares about scrappy losing teams.

If you've got a guy that can steal a base 80% of the time, send him. If you've got a guy that can steal 50% of the time, don't.

If you have got a great bunter at the plate facing a shaky defense, sure, lay down a squeeze bunt attempt.

If you've got a team of good home run hitters, don't criticize them for not being the '85 Cardinals.

If you're sacrifice bunting in the second inning with someone who is not the pitcher at the plate, you're decreasing your odds of scoring, period. (See http://www.tangotiger.net/re24.html)

The goal isn't to never take a risk. It's to take smart risks where the odds are on your side. Over the long term, playing smart odds and using the talent on your team in the best way possible will add up over time to more wins.

Jun 25, 2012 14:25 PM
rating: 6
 
conwell

I agree with you on the tactics argument. Good baseball managers make the right decisions. Sometimes the right decision for the team is to wait for the 3-run home run. With that said, I think that PatrickG has a point; baseball is more exciting at least to me when it isn't as clear what the right decision is and allow me to think along with the manager.

In your base-stealing argument, you're right, but what about the situation where you've got a 65% base-stealer, but the pitcher is particularly stingy and you've got a singles hitter at the plate. I like those types of situations.

I think that Lindbergh made a good argument here about the Yankees situation. My point is that I don't enjoy that style of baseball as much; I'd rather see the ball put in play. I find the 3 true outcomes to be less exciting.

Jun 25, 2012 14:57 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

Certainly a valid viewpoint.

Jun 25, 2012 15:00 PM
 
patrickg68

Todd, I think you are misunderstanding me a bit. I'm not arguing for managers to be reckless and start misusing the tactics at their disposal. I'm merely offering the argument that if homeruns were somewhat less common, that those tactics would be appropriate in more situations, and the game would largely be better for it. Again, I don't think anyone wants to return to a dead ball era, but I think slightly fewer homeruns would make for a more fun and interesting style of baseball.

Jun 25, 2012 18:08 PM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

Being that it was a Mets/Yankees game that led to this article, you couldn't get a better contrast.

With their good BA and OBP but poor SLG lineup, for the Mets to score, they need multiple hits in the same inning. For the Yanks to score, it takes one swing. Give me the one swing offense anyday.

Jun 25, 2012 08:26 AM
rating: 1
 
The Beef

So I'm not the only one yelling at my TV during these broadcasts? McCarver is unwatchable and Morgan was just about as bad. I am a Yankee fan, so I watch a lot of YES, and I really like the way John Flaherty announces. I bet if you checked the BP roster of subscribers, his name is on it. He brings a lot of Saber into the broadcast and I think he's turning the other YES announcers from the Dark Side and into the light.

Jun 25, 2012 08:41 AM
rating: -1
 
MattDavis

Turning Yankees fans from the Dark Side? Now I've heard everything...

Jun 25, 2012 11:41 AM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

David Cone uses sabremetrics on Yankees broadcats. Unfoirtunately, kaye and the others are sooooooo irritating, I watch with the sound off.

Jun 26, 2012 12:39 PM
rating: 1
 
hyprvypr

Yankee's stadium IS a joke. I mean, it's embarassing to the game to see almost ROUTINE flyballs to right and right-center leave the yard. The more one looks at things, it's amazing how many parks in the East are 'hitters' parks and the West are pitchers parks. Check this out(HR's, park per game):

AL EAST
New York 2.88
Toronto 2.82
Baltimore 2.69
Boston 2.36
Tampa Bay 1.81
AL WEST
Texas 2.43
Oakland 1.64
Anahiem(not calling them LA) 1.62
Seattle 1.26

Doesn't this ultimately lead people to believe that pitching performances in the AL West are less impressive just as similarly batting performances in the AL East are less impressive? Is a .275/.350/.500 slash line from a Yankee like a .250/.325/.425 slash line in Seattle? Is a 2.80 E.R.A. from an Oakland pitcher like a 3.80 E.R.A. from a Redsox's arm?

Similarly is the yankee's 'great offense' merely very good considering their park?

Want another shocking statistic?

Runs per game on the road:
New York Yankees 4.94
Seattle Mariners(!) 4.91

Jun 25, 2012 10:40 AM
rating: 1
 
SaberTJ

This is why sites like BP create stats where you can compare players in a neutral environment.

Jun 25, 2012 11:19 AM
rating: 2
 
qwik3457bb

Several different answers to your challenge:

Q1: Which team leads MLB in home runs?
A: The Yankees with 112.

Q2: Which team leads MLB in home runs at home?
A: The Yankees with 58.

Q3: Which teams leads MLB in home runs on the road?
A: The Yankees with 54.

==================================================
Runs allowed on the roard, per game:
New York Yankees: 4.00
Seattle Mariners: 5.09
Point being, the high-HR characteristic of the new Yankee Stadium hurts the team's pitchers just as it helps their hitters.
==================================================
OPS+ and ERA+ may not be your cup of team, but:

OPS+: Yankees 109, Mariners 92
ERA+: Yankees 114, Mariners 86

The Mariners have had 4 or 5 extreme offensive performances on the road, including back to back games of 21 and 10 in Arlington, and back to back games of 12 and 10 in Arizona, two other hitter's parks. When the Mariners played their series in Yankee Stadium, they scored 10 runs in 3 games.

Go figure.

Jun 25, 2012 16:00 PM
rating: 1
 
SaberTJ

It wasn't a challenge. You said " Is a .275/.350/.500 slash line from a Yankee like a .250/.325/.425 slash line in Seattle? Is a 2.80 E.R.A. from an Oakland pitcher like a 3.80 E.R.A. from a Redsox's arm?"

Sites like BP have created stats to compare pitchers and hitters as if they were in a neutral environment. Allowing someone to give or take away credit due to different offensive environments.

There are several parks that inflate offense, and several that do the opposite.

Jun 25, 2012 16:46 PM
rating: 0
 
qwik3457bb

Reply fail.

My reply was meant for the post above yours, not yours.

Jun 26, 2012 06:16 AM
rating: 0
 
SaberTJ

It all makes sense now. Thanks for clarifying.

Jun 26, 2012 07:33 AM
rating: 0
 
hyprvypr
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I have no idea what your point is or even who you're trying to make a point to. If it's to...

The Yankees home park is a JOKE. Not debatable when it comes to cheap HRs. It's been talked about, heck beating a dead horse about it. Two HRs tonight(Canos and Swisher) are both outs at most parks in MLB.

Then you can save your reply, you have no counter so don't make yourself look dumb by arguing.

Jun 25, 2012 17:54 PM
rating: -9
 
Dodger300

I didn't see Swisher's home run, but I watched Cano's go out. It cleared the wall in the deepest part of centerfield by a wide margin.

ESPN reports it went 452 feet:

"Robinson Cano’s 452-foot go-ahead home run versus Miguel Batista in Sunday’s series finale..."

http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/mets/post/_/id/49547/the-series-in-metrics-mets-vs-yankees-2

SInce Houston has the deepest center field in MLB at 436 feet, Cano's home run would not have been an out anywhere, let alone in most parks.

You only detract from your point and diminish your credibility through exageration. It is hard to convince people not to believe their lying eyes.

And to order anyone to refrain from diagreement with you, even calling them dumb in advance, is bush league and out of line. You don't get to dictate the conversation here.

Jun 25, 2012 18:31 PM
rating: 4
 
Dodger300

Oh, by the way, the game was played in Citi Field.

But I guess since there is "no counter" to your post, it makes me "look dumb" to point out that you completely messed up.

Jun 25, 2012 18:50 PM
rating: 4
 
hyprvypr
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

You dumbass, if you're going to make points, at least has your info right. I was referring to the game that happened tonight, not like two months ago. Your error and clear lack of perspective only further reinforces your useless wit and inexcusable ignorance. Begone, I have no time for Homers arguing for their precious two hundred million dollar trophy players.

Jun 25, 2012 19:06 PM
rating: -11
 
ScottyB

The game was a Citifield, dude. Calm down, we all make mistakes.

Jun 26, 2012 12:41 PM
rating: 1
 
SaberTJ

My point is:

Subscruber - qwik - was asking if players stats on different teams (or teams' offenses as a whole) whom play in different offensive environments are worth the same. I was simply stating that their are all-in-one offensive stats are already created that compare players (or teams) using a neutral environment so we can determine whose offensive output is more valuable.




Jun 26, 2012 05:21 AM
rating: 0
 
SaberTJ

That comment was posted prior to my morning coffee. I apologize for the grammatical errors.

Jun 26, 2012 05:22 AM
rating: 0
 
qwik3457bb

I recognize this, which is why I cited two park adjusted stats, OPS+ and ERA+, even though they're not created by BP.

Jun 26, 2012 06:17 AM
rating: 0
 
qwik3457bb

The Yanks home park is not the park producing the most home runs per game in the majors this season. In fact, through last night's games, it ranks 9th. In 2011, it was 4th. In 2010, it was 3rd. Only in the 1st season of it's existence, 2009, was it 1st.

In this, my necessary reply, I use actual data, so that I don't look dumb by making an assertion that's full of it.

You know, like stating Yankee Stadium is a joke without any evidence beyond my own anecdotal observation to back it up.

Jun 26, 2012 06:15 AM
rating: 5
 
ScottyB

Yankee stadium is configured to help lefty pull power hitters 9but is MUCH deeper to center and left field). The Yanks smertly acquire/develop many of these players. This is smart, and not really a problem.

Plus, these past 3 games were at Citifield, not Yankee stadium!

Jun 26, 2012 12:44 PM
rating: 1
 
apbadogs

Don't TWO teams play in each game?

Jun 26, 2012 10:00 AM
rating: 0
 
alangreene

Interesting article.

I think part of this is the bias towards small ball and the logical idea that home runs often happen on mistakes where as you can always go to speed and manufacturing runs (it's easier to move a runner over than hit a homer; "speed never slumps").

I think part of it may be errant analogies to other sports. In basketball or football, defenses can change how they play to stop certain aspects of your offense. A one dimensional offense, when game planned against, can be shut down pretty easily.

In baseball, there's little game-planning difference between the regular season and the playoffs. Oh, sure, you might bring in more situational relievers or run more on a weak catcher or employ a shift, but relative to what happens in the NFL? It's nothing.

Jun 25, 2012 12:02 PM
rating: 0
 
STLbuckeye13

I really enjoyed reading this. Another blow to small-ball enthusiasts.

Jun 25, 2012 14:44 PM
rating: 1
 
qwik3457bb

Did a quick check myself for last year's postseason.

Percentage of runs scored on home runs, 2011 Regular season: 34.4%
Percentage of runs scored on home runs, 2011 Post-season: 41.5%

Jun 25, 2012 16:14 PM
rating: 2
 
greenengineer

It all goes back to little league. Small ball tactics work when the fielders are bad. Putting the ball in play is more reliable than hoping the 14 year old ump calls that close pitch a ball. Steal the base - they'll never get you out, and they might throw it away. Bunt, you'll probably end up on second.

It's extreme in little league, and still pretty true in high school. Once you get to professional baseball, the fielders, even the bad ones, are pretty good, and these strategies don't work so well. But 10 years of "education" in small ball is tough to unlearn.

Jun 26, 2012 04:28 AM
rating: 2
 
apbadogs

Yep...hit it on the ground, make them make a play.

Jun 26, 2012 09:59 AM
rating: 1
 
Agent007

I heard an announcer, not long ago, state that the hitter had "31 of his 34 rbi's with men on base."

Jun 26, 2012 07:07 AM
rating: 4
 
apbadogs

Well...that guy must be CLUTCH!

Jun 26, 2012 09:59 AM
rating: 3
 
apbadogs

Abstinence is the only sure fire way to prevent pregancy...home runs are the only sure fire way to score runs...both seem to be equally hated.

Jun 26, 2012 09:58 AM
rating: 2
 
thegeneral13

Not equally enjoyed, however.

Jun 26, 2012 13:07 PM
rating: 3
 
glennb

As much as I hate the Yankees, the ESPN commentary bordered on the idiotic. When will a numerically educated announcer appear on the public stage? Of course teams are less likely to win when they DON'T hit a home-run. That's because they are more likely to score less runs. Conditional Probability - geddit?

That's true for everybody (I will make this bet without even knowing the result - has ANY team ever had a better record when they DON'T hit a home run??).

Good thing these guys don't work for the Federal Reserve Bank. OK, wait. Maybe both ends would be better off if they did.

Jun 26, 2012 13:20 PM
rating: 2
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Pebble Hunting: Buster... (06/25)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Overthinking It: Melky... (06/21)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Overthinking It: Why S... (06/29)
Next Article >>
What You Need to Know:... (06/26)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article My Model Portfolio: Framing Decisions Around...
Fantasy Article Dynasty Dynamics: TINO Does Arizona, 2015
Pebble Hunting: The Case For Shaming the Cub...
Every Team's Moneyball: Texas Rangers: Short...
Every Team's Moneyball: Atlanta Braves: Shor...
Prospectus Feature: All Spin Is Not Alike
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: The Most Important Player ...

MORE FROM JUNE 25, 2012
Out of Left Field: Curt Schilling's Blood Ru...
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Second, Short, and Catcher for ...
The Week in Quotes: June 18-24
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Potential League-Ho...
Premium Article Collateral Damage Daily: Monday, June 25
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, June 25
What You Need to Know: Monday, June 25

MORE BY BEN LINDBERGH
2012-06-29 - Prospectus Q&A: Pitcher Workloads and Inning...
2012-06-26 - BP Unfiltered: Google and Anti-Umpire Search...
2012-06-26 - BP Unfiltered: Today in Entirely Speculative...
2012-06-25 - Premium Article Overthinking It: What Does Everyone Have Aga...
2012-06-25 - BP Unfiltered: The AL Wins Interleague Again
2012-06-25 - BP Unfiltered: Not Everyone is Excited to Be...
2012-06-24 - BP Unfiltered: Home Runs Aren't Always Mista...
More...

MORE OVERTHINKING IT
2012-07-05 - Premium Article Overthinking It: Second-Half Risers and Fall...
2012-07-03 - Premium Article Overthinking It: Does Arbitration Drive Play...
2012-06-29 - Premium Article Overthinking It: Why Some Pitchers Don't Get...
2012-06-25 - Premium Article Overthinking It: What Does Everyone Have Aga...
2012-06-21 - Premium Article Overthinking It: Melky Cabrera and the Mythi...
2012-06-19 - Premium Article Overthinking It: The Cincinnati Reds and the...
2012-06-13 - Premium Article Overthinking It: Who Is the Best Umpire?
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2014-01-06 - Overthinking It: Testing the Predictive Powe...
2012-10-07 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: Orioles-Yankees Division...
2012-09-20 - Premium Article Overthinking It: No Ace, No Problem?
2012-08-28 - Premium Article Overthinking It: What the New Skippers Have ...