The Yankees finally kicked off their first series against the lowly Toronto Blue Jays more than two months into the season. This series, which began Tuesday night, is taking place in the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. It’s another old turf stadium similar to Tropicana Field, and just like I wrote about with the Yankees playing at The Trop, they’ve had some serious struggles in Toronto since 2010.
The Last Decade
The Rogers Centre has not been kind to the Yankees over the last decade. Since 2010, the Bronx Bombers are just 35-48 in Toronto. Compare that to their outstanding home record of 55-30 when playing in New York. If you look back at the season series in Toronto over the last 10 seasons, only one (2018) saw the Yankees have a winning record. The nine seasons before that: 4-6 in 2017, 2-8 in 2016, 4-5 from 2011-15, and 3-6 in 2010.
The Yankees averaged 4 runs per game in the Rogers Centre vs. 4.9 runs per game in New York over that span. Their pitching staff has given up 4.4 runs per game in Toronto vs. 4 runs in New York. Given that the Rogers Centre is a hitter-friendly park – they’re ranked as the 8th most so per parkfactors.com – it’s somewhat surprising to see the Yankees not score much up there in the last decade.
Now here’s the thing, and this was somewhat covered in the Tropicana Field article, but you should always factor in what the actual teams were like when looking at this data. If one of the teams was always bad, that sort of skews the facts. The thing is, the last decade saw both franchises with strong and weak teams. The Yankees had 90+ win teams from 2010-2012 and 2017-18. They were above .500, though otherwise pretty mediocre, from 2013-16. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, had their contending teams in 2015 and 2016 with 89 and 93 win seasons. They were at or above .500 in 2010, 2011, and 2014. Outside of that they never won more than 76 games. The point is, it doesn’t seem like the Yankees were just rolling out weak teams for large swaths of the last decade. If anything, they were generally better than the Blue Jays most seasons.
A number of Yankees hitters over the past decade have struggled in Toronto. Didi Gregorius has an OPS of just .628. Gary Sanchez is even worse at just .581. Mark Texiera had a batting average of just .232, though he did hit 17 home runs there over the years. Carlos Beltran had an OPS of just .673. Robinson Cano had a better .772 OPS, but even that’s much lower than his career OPS of .844. Curtis Granderson‘s OPS was also 40 points lower than his career at .760. Some of the other Yankees hitters have performed better but their sample sizes are too small to matter much.
Interestingly enough, the three pitchers with the most innings there, CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka, have all fared well there. Happ holds a 3.59 ERA over 400 innings (remember he played for Toronto for a while). Sabathia has a dominant 3.01 ERA in his 100+ innings pitched. Tanaka pitched to a 3.38 ERA prior to Tuesday night’s game.
If the Yankees plan to return to their division-winning ways, they’ll need to improve their record at the Rogers Centre. If Tuesday night was any indication with just three runs scored, they may not quite be there yet. They have pitchers who can dominate there, and the Blue Jays aren’t a very good team this year, but their hitters are going to have to step it up moving forward. Maybe the Yankees just don’t play well on turf fields. But given how much younger this team has become, and how often they visit Tampa Bay and Toronto, it seems like something they should be able to turn around.