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TWiYB: This week in Yankees baseball – Week 11

I do not like west coast baseball. Not to go all ‘Get off my lawn’ on you, but I don’t understand how people who expect to function in normal society watch west coast games. If you’re a Californian living in the east, you basically have to abandon following your baseball team. Sad!

Here’s last week in Yankees baseball in case you missed it.

West Coast baseball is the devil

Not only is this current west coast trip killing me, it’s killing the Yankees.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday’s games were all winnable; in fact, they are games the Yankees probably win at home (more on that in a bit). So far the Yankees have played two extra inning games, lost by a combined 4 runs in three days, and placed at least one key player to the disabled list.

CC Sabathia, who had been so good this season, tweaked a hammy in the 4th inning on Tuesday, which was extended thanks to some inept fielding by Chris Carter. It puts a hole in the Yankees already paper-thin starting rotation. Masahiro Tanaka finally had a good start, but we’ve seen him turn a supposed corner a couple times this year only to have him relapse into Home Run Derby Tanaka. Michael Pineda and Jordan Montgomery have shown their inconsistency and inexperience, respectively. Luis Severino has been the linchpin (cue the jinx), and he will take the bump Friday in Oakland looking to play stopper.

This trip has also exposed the Yankees bullpen, which has been bad since Aroldis Chapman went down. Tyler Clippard has been the worst of the bunch, having outright blown two games this week and allowed an inherited runner to score the tying run in Monday’s game, the only one the Yankees won.

I caught some flak for criticizing Clippard a few weeks ago. People pointed to his sub-2.00 ERA as definitive proof Tyler was doing his job, but the eye test don’t lie brother. When Eric Young Jr. takes you deep (yes, the same EYJ who was on pinch-running duties for the Yankees last September), something is wrong. For whatever reason Girardi still trusts Clippard in big spots, but I have to imagine that trust is almost gone.

As if that weren’t enough, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks also left Thursday’s game with injuries. They might both be minor, but don’t be surprised if both sit for a day or two, taking two of the Yankees best bats out of the lineup. The injuries aren’t even confined to the major league squad as Greg Bird suffered a setback. Nobody is safe.

Sorry to be a downer, let’s get positive.

Anything you can do I can do better

The Yankees — specifically their big right handed bats — mashed the ball on their 6-game home stand vs Boston and Baltimore.

When Gary Sanchez launched his 450-foot three-run homer in the first inning on Sunday, he became the sixth Yankee hitter to reach double-digit homers this season. Keeping in mind Gary missed four weeks with a biceps injury early this season, that feat is impressive.

El Kraken has been out-shined by The Judge this season, but Sanchez is starting to feel it. Since being shifted lower in the lineup Gary has slugged 5 homers, 3 doubles, and is batting .405. While Judge makes most of the headlines, all of Sanchez’ home runs this season have been crushed. The shortest of his 11 dingers traveled 398-feet. The others? 438, 425, 427, 416, 430, 415, 415, 405, 450, 433. Gary does not get cheated.

We thought we had seen it all when Sanchez tore-up the league last August, and then Aaron Judge happened.

I audibly gasped when that ball landed behind the left field bleachers on Sunday. In one weekend, Judge managed to hit the hardest ever home run recorded (his 121-mph job on Saturday) and the farthest ever recorded (updated to 496-feet) in the Statcast/HR Tracker era. The crazy thing is they weren’t even the same home run!

He’s a freak. He’s an animal. He’s an alien creation sent here to destroy baseballs and warm the hearts of fans everywhere. Ok, except maybe this guy:

Listen, I get where Clark is coming from. Giancarlo Stanton has been mashing tape-measure homers for years at this point and he’s never received the love Judge has in under three months. But guess what? Judge deserves every ounce of accolades he’s received thus far. He plays in a market that actually cares about baseball, and what he’s doing as a rookie is unprecedented. There’s a new behemoth in town and his name is Aaron Judge. Deal with it.

One final note about Judge vs. Stanton. When Stanton pulverizes one, which he does with regularity, he swings at 110%. This video is of Stanton’s longest homer this season, which traveled 465-feet.

My back hurts watching that violent swing. Compare that to Judge’s 496-footer, and it’s night and day. Judge took the same fluid swing he takes on nearly every swing, and the ball traveled FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY SIX FEET. God I hope these two square-off in the Home Run Derby.

Home cooking

With the Yankees loss last night in Oakland, their third loss in a row, they dropped to 16-17 on the road. Thankfully, they are so dangerous at home that their overall record has not suffered. Digging into the numbers however, I don’t understand how their record is so mediocre away from the Bronx.

The Yankees home record of 22-9 (.710) is tops in the American League. They have put up 204 runs in those 31 games — a ridiculous 6.6/game — while allowing less than 4 runs per. Their run differential of +83 at home explains why they are so dominant at Yankee Stadium. Hit the road and the Yankees run differential shrinks to +30. It’s still a good number, and definitely not indicative of a .500 team. For context, last season the Yankees were outscored by 45 runs on the road and their record reflected it.

So, what’s causing them to win just half of their games on the road?

First of all, their offense is much better at home. They’ve clubbed 63 home runs at Yankee Stadium while posting a .524 team slugging percentage. On the road they’ve hit “only” 43 with a .429 SLG. This is not uncommon; teams usually hit better in the ballpark they’re designed for and playing behind their home fans, but the Yankees are also getting on base less often on the road, which emphasizes their struggles with hitting with runners in scoring position.

Look no further than the Yankees best player this season. Judge has more than two-times the home runs at home (15) than on the road (7). While his .279/.367/.525 slash line on the road is respectable, his .400/.519/.886 at home is Bondsian. In other words, video game shit.

Am I saying the reason the Yankees are only .500 on the road is because of Aaron Judge? Of course not. I’m using him as an example to show that most of the team is slightly worse on the road (or better at home, depending on if you’re a glass half full or empty person).

Starlin Castro: .993 OPS at home, .802 on the road
Brett Gardner: .870 OPS at home, .799 on the road
Matt Holliday: .914 OPS at home, .865 on the road

Aaron Hicks is the only player of note whose OPS is better on the road, but 8 of his 10 home runs have come at home, so figure that one out. (Full disclosure: I didn’t even bother to look up Chase Headley and Chris Carter).

This trend actually does not apply to the pitching staff, which — other than Pineda — is virtually the same on the road. The splits on Big Mike are alarming however; he is unhittable at Yankee Stadium but the living embodiment of a piñata on the road.

Pineda has (had?) been very impressive this season, but he apparently duped me like Chase Headley duped so many of you in April and is duping you again now. I knew something wasn’t right with Pineda but couldn’t put my finger on it, then I clicked on his home/road splits and it hit me like a ton of bricks. This dude cannot pitch on the road. Add it to the list of issues with Pineda.

I’m tempted to say that the Yankees road record will correct itself because their offensive production and staff ERA on the road simply do not translate to a .500 team. On the other hand, the Yankees are now a team with more young players than they are accustomed to. Often times inexperience shows on the road, which may explain some of the late inning losses that don’t seem to happen in the Bronx.

#BPCrew

Scott and I talked about it on Monday’s podcast, but I wanted to thank everyone again who came out to the Bronx Pinstripes event on Saturday. I had an amazing time and it was great to meet everybody, even if it was only for a few seconds. Hearing people say they listen to the podcast and they feel like they knew Scott and me was truly a surreal moment and one that I’ll never forget. We can’t wait to do more of those events in the future. Pictures and video are coming soon! In the meantime, #BPCrew representing:

 

Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_Rotondi

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