It also happened to be hit out of the park by the wrong team. In the fourth inning of last night’s game, Kevin Kouzmanoff sent a two-run shot out of the park. The ball sounded like a no-doubter coming off the bat. As the camera monitored the ball’s trajectory through the sky, we all bore witness to its eventual descent into the seats about 10 rows back past the right field wall. The home run wasn’t of the“Russell Branyan epic slug” variety, but it was definitely legitimate.
I wasn’t griping by that point given the general ineptitude of the Oakland offense (not to mention the fact that the Yankees were still winning), but I did find myself wondering about the Yankee rotation and their respective home run splits. Initially my curiosity pertained specifically to Phil Hughes. I suppose Phil's past several starts have been resonating in my mind. It wasn’t long, however, before I felt
As I mulled over the stats for a bit, a few points caught my attention. A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Javier Vazquez have each faced a similar number of lefthanded and righthanded opposing batters. CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have faced far more righthanded batters than lefthanded ones. This seems surprising at first but ultimately makes perfect sense. The managers will gear the lineups according to the pitcher. Sending a bunch of lefties against Sabathia is similar to sending a cow out to slaughter. It's just not going to work out favorably most of the time.
A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes have allowed similar batting averages against hitters from each side of the plate. They also have similar home run totals. Sabathia has fared better against righties (as to be expected) while Javier Vazquez is about thirty points more successful against lefties. Prior to Andy Pettitte’s DL stint, he had been utterly brutal against lefties. His splits certainly exemplify that.
In terms of surrendering the long ball, the results vary a bit from what I had initially assumed. Sabathia, being the stalwart leader that he is, has kept his home run count fairly low (which many of us probably suspected given his gameplay). Interestingly enough though, he’s actually given more home runs up on the road than he has at Yankee Stadium (which should probably be mentioned by Yankee Brass while they’re giving Cliff Lee the NY sales pitch). In comparison, Pettitte and Hughes have both allowed significantly more home runs at home. Then of course, we have to consider A.J. Burnett, who simply doesn’t believe in discriminating locations when he gives up the long ball. Similarly, Home Run Javy unsurprisingly also remains unbiased. Much to Yankee fans’ chagrin, Vazquez has allowed 27 home runs over the course of the season which is the most of any member on the on rotation. Given his performances as a starter of late, this surprises absolutely no one.
I also included the corresponding run support for each pitcher in the graph posted above. Last night, as I perused through a fairly lengthy Yankee chain e-mail, one of the contributors expressed surprise that Hughes was approaching his 16th win of the season. When you consider his support, it makes a great deal of sense. Granted, he did pitch very well for the first few months of the season. The Yankee batters have done their best to help the kid out, though. He’s had 10 starts where the Yankees supplied at least three runs, and nine starts where they scored six or more. I have to admit, it also brings back some less than stellar memories of the Yankees providing Javy with little to no run support earlier in the season. As it turns out, that old jig happened seven times.
Given the disparity between home and away home runs for Pettitte and Hughes, I figured it might also be interesting to take a look back at those occasions.
Perhaps Yankee ownership could consider investing in a big blue wall for the right side of the field…a “Blue Giant” of sorts.
If you haven’t had a chance to read Mike’s analysis of the Yankee rotation, make sure you check it out. It's quite insightful. Click here.