June 25, 2012
What Does Everyone Have Against Homers?
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: