Sunday, April 03, 2011

Tigers Win First Game

It was home run derby in New Yankee Stadium today.  The Yankees won the derby four home runs to three, but the Tigers won the game 10-7 to avoid the series sweep.  Miguel Cabrera hit a pair of two-run homers and Brennan Boesch added another to help the Tigers overcome a poor start from Max Scherzer.

Scherzer, who pitched poorly throughout spring training, was tagged for four homers and six runs in just five innings.  He got the win which gives us another example why pitcher wins is such a flawed statistic.  On the positive side, the potentially dynamic duo of joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde combined for two scoreless innings to preserve the Tigers victory.

Yankee Stadium Fences are too Shallow 

None of the Tigers home runs were cheap today, but there have been a lot of bombs hit in New Yankee Stadium since it opened in 2009.  The fences are shallow to the point where I think the stadium favors hitters too much.  This is especially true of left-handed hitters who eagerly eye the the porch in right field.  According to the Bill James Handbook, it has been 41% easier for lefties to hit home runs in Yankee Stadium compared to the average park over the last two years.  It has been 34% easier for all hitters to hit a homer in Yankee Stadium.  Both figures exceed those of the notoriously hitter friendly Coors Field (28% for LHB, 21% overall).

I feel a little uncomfortable watching a Yankee Stadium game because I get the sense that it's just too easy to hit home runs there.  I don't think it's good for the game and I'm growing to dislike the park.  It's hard to believe that the enormously successful and generally conservative Yankees deliberately intended to build a park which throws off the balance of the game this much.  I suspect that we'll see some kind of redesign at some point especially if they continue to have trouble signing free agent starting pitchers.

The Line-up

The Tigers line-up today raised a few questions.  First Magglio Ordonez was benched due to a sore ankle, the same one which was surgically repaired last year.  This leads one to wonder how healthy he will be and how many games he'll miss this year.

Will Rhymes and Alex Avila also sat out today's game as Jim Leyland said they were "pressing."  I think when Leyland says young players are pressing, it means he is disappointed with their play.  This could be an indication that there will be a short leash for young players who don't perform. 

Brennan Boesch was the designated hitter today and took Ordonez's third spot in the order.  It looked like a questionable move initially but Boesch went four for four and drove home four runs.  He'll likely stay in the line-up tomorrow.  The question is whether he'll replace Raburn or Ordonez or whether he'll DH while Avila sits another day.  Raburn got two hits of his own, so neither player is making Leyland's decision an easy one.  Ultimately, I think a lot of things are unsettled and we are going to see a lot of different line-ups this April.

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