The Yankees have not had a great start to the 2021 season and sit at 5-7 after losing two out of three games to the Blue Jays.
The frustration has not been quiet by any means. It is April 14th and very early in the season, but it is fair to be upset about the performance so far; these games matter.
There are many reasons people give as to why the Yankees have gotten off to a poor start. The lack of offensive production has been the main culprit, and the main talking point I hear regarding the lineup is that the Yankees are too feast or famine. In other words, too home run reliant with all the right-handed power hitters like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sánchez, and Luke Voit.
I will admit it would be nice to have more lefties to have more balance to the lineup, but it is not a huge problem, in my view. Being too home-run reliant is something I will firmly push back on. Many fans think the Yankees struggle to score runs because they are always swinging for the fences and would rather see the team shorten up and play for base hits.
The recent performance should show that hitting home runs is important, and trying to score by stringing together multiple hits is not an efficient or sustainable way to score.
Yankees now have a .367 slugging percentage.
That's their worst thru 11 games since 1991 (.348)
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) April 14, 2021
For instance, the Yankees lost a game last week to the Orioles in which they had 13 hits and only scored three runs—one of those runs being from the extra innings rule where a runner starts on second base. The Yankees did not hit any home runs that game.
Another example I want to bring up is during the game against the Orioles, in which the Yankees won 7-2. In the first inning, the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs. The Yankees did not get a run that inning but reached base on three out of their six plate appearances in that inning. So the Yankees had a .500 on-base percentage in that inning; that is pretty good, right? Except the Yankees reached base by two singles and a walk, so no one scored.
It just goes to show how unreasonable it is to expect to score with steady singles rather than one swing that brings in multiple runs. This year, there have been other games where the Yankees have crowded the base paths but have not scored. The Yankees have hit a ton of ground balls and lead the league in double plays hit into right now.
It is not intended that the Yankees are not hitting for much power to start the season, but the results of this stretch show that hitting a few well-timed home runs with maybe about six hits a game is better than having 13 hits in a game with no home runs.
Another notion I see is that this home run or bust approach is not suited for the postseason. Not only is that wrong, but the importance of hitting home runs is amplified in the playoffs.
Numbers show that teams that hit more home runs in the regular season retain more of their scoring in the postseason than teams that do not hit as many home runs.
In the tweets below, the Guillen number is used to measure how reliant an offense is on home runs. It is calculated by taking the number of runs a team scored on home runs and dividing by the number of runs that team scored overall.
440 MLB Playoff Teams All-Time
By Guillen Number (% of Runs via HR)
Regular Season to Playoffs
Scoring Decrease GN Rise
Top 110 15% 2%
Next 110 17% 8%
Next 110 17% 11%
Bot 110 27% 16%
The homer-reliant teams retain more of their scoring in October
— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) March 18, 2019
Think about it this way. What is more likely to happen when facing the elite pitchers of the game that teams run into more often in the postseason like Verlander or Glasnow, stringing together multiple singles against them or working a walk and scoring two runs on one swing via the home run? The numbers show the home run is the more likely event to happen.
Teams that hit more home runs than their opponents are more likely to win, which was the case in the 2020 postseason.
With the Astros' win, teams are now 26-2 in games where they out-homer their opponent this postseason
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 15, 2020
That is a staggering number, and this is not going to change any time soon. Home runs are key to winning in both the regular season and the postseason.
It is not anything new either; the winning percentage of teams that hit more home runs is much better than the alternative going back to 100 years ago. It is just that teams are becoming more aware of this fact.
The Yankees need to hit more home runs than they have to start the season, and given their track record since the 2017 season, I think they will find that power stroke.
Featured Image: USA Today