Damon’s New Digs

At 35 years young, Johnny Damon is hitting for more power than he ever has before. While Damon has always been a player with a little pop, his game has long been about hitting for average and making things happen with his legs. His career isolated power is .151, this season he’s up to a robust .237. I think it’s safe to say that there is at least one Yankee that really enjoys his new digs.

185_OF_season__ha_blog_6_20090830

It should come as no great surprise that 17 of Damon’s 24 homers have come at the New Yankee Stadium, which in it’s inaugural season has proven to be quite the hitter’s park. With the help of the ever-resourceful site HitTracker, we can further examine Damon’s ‘power spike’.

Damon_Johnny_2009_scatter

Talk about a dead pull hitter. The average true distance of a major league homer is 399 feet and the calculated speed of the ball as it left the bat is 103.6 MPH. Damon’s average distance is 380 feet per homer and his speed off the bat is 101.7 MPH. Does that mean a lot of cheapies for Damon? Hit Tracker actually helps us classify homers further, putting all big flies in four self-explanatory different bins: “Just Enoughs”, “Plentys”, “No Doubts” and “Luckys”.

Using those classifications, Damon has had one lucky homer at the New Yankee Stadium, four homers that had just enough on them to leave the yard, eight homers that were out by plenty and four no-doubters. The average distance on the no-doubter and ‘plenty’ homers was 378 feet; not tape measure shots by any stretch, but they had plenty enough on them to give some Yankee fan sitting in some overpriced right field seats a souvenir.

The Yankees currently have nine players with double-digit homeruns, and it’s conceivable that they could have eight players with 20 homers or more this season, making them the first team do ever accomplish such a feat. While the Yankee lineup very, very good, when you look up down the lineup, it doesn’t quite strike you as Murderer’s Row. We’ve talked about the “Coors Effect” in years gone by. I don’t think the New Yankee Stadium is quite that extreme, but it’ll be interesting to see if the park continues to play this way over the next few seasons.



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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.


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Matt B.
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Matt B.
6 years 11 months ago

Isn’t the bigger issue with the new YS the weather/wind flow effects as opposed to dimensions? The lengths of the HRs/fyballs are apparantly being aided at YS, turning the just enoughs to plentys and so on.

SM
Guest
SM
6 years 11 months ago

hittracker has wind and temp factors. Lucky tag accounts this.

Tom B
Guest
Tom B
6 years 11 months ago

it’s amazing how many people don’t read the research that’s already been done. the ball is flying LESS(about 2% iirc) than the old stadium, the only difference is the wall in right field is shorter and closer than the old stadium.

the lack of substance in this article is disappointing. ISO and yankee stadium? that’s all you came up with for damon’s power surge? how about his FB% is almost 10 points over his career average? how about his legs are healthy for the first time since 2006, the last time he hit 24 home runs? Give me something, but stop talking about the stadium like it’s the only answer.

Chris
Guest
Chris
6 years 11 months ago

Where has anyone compared carry at the New Yankee Stadium to the old stadium?

It’s very easy to compare distances, and that accounts for some of the increase in HR, but not all of it. It’s much harder to quantify the wind effects. Hittracker tries, but they can’t account for the swirling winds within a stadium.

Mike
Guest
6 years 11 months ago
Matt B.
Guest
Matt B.
6 years 11 months ago

It certainly has been friendly to lefty hitters…

Tom B
Guest
Tom B
6 years 11 months ago

why are they “too close”?

they don’t force the teams in fenway/phily/cinci to move their fences back… and the yanks are no where near that short all around.

Matt B.
Guest
Matt B.
6 years 11 months ago

If the fences are not that short (I don’t disagree) than why the sudden Coors Fields type HR numbers for lefties?

Tom B
Guest
Tom B
6 years 11 months ago

its shorter (vertically) and up to 9 feet closer in some spots(right center), that’s pretty significant for a team that already hits for power to right field. add on the number of hr’s we gave up early in the year, add teixeira’s lefty power, add healthy jeter’s oppo power and you get a supposed “home run haven”. plus you figure that once players know a field is playing “short” they start trying to purposely hit it that way. tell people next year that the monster is 5 feet shorter, and i guarantee that HR’s over the monster will be up, whether the wall is physically changed or not.

Sam
Guest
Sam
6 years 11 months ago

It seems to me that a myth has persisted that New Yankee Stadium is a great hitters park. But it is actually playing fairly neutral as a run scoring environment (0.991 park factor in runs scored from ESPN, ranking 14th in ML). It is, however, the most HR friendly park, but it suppresses doubles and triples a lot, which perhaps explains the relative lack of runs scoring.

Matt B.
Guest
Matt B.
6 years 11 months ago

Doubles are suppressed as they are turning into HRs. The HR park factor for lefties will be ridiculous after the year is done.

Sam
Guest
Sam
6 years 11 months ago

Regardless, the claim that NYS in its “inaugural season has proven to be quite the hitter’s park” is not quite right. It is a HR park, for sure.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 11 months ago

It’s basically an inverse Fenway. Fenway has a higher park factor, but it’s generous to hitting doubles, and has been historically harder to hit HR in.

Boston and NY are probably about the same atmospherically (is that a word? I’m using it anyway), so you assume about the same # of hard hit balls relative to each team’s skill set. In Boston, they’re more likely to go for doubles, in NY, Home Runs.

Matt B.
Guest
Matt B.
6 years 11 months ago

That’s quite the distance between the two cities to be able to determine specific wind patterns, jet streams what have you. I am not a meteorologist (sp?) but just placing a stadium in a certain manner/angle can greatly affect how the ball flies out I would think.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 11 months ago

Maybe. I’m not much for weather patterns, though.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
6 years 11 months ago

I can’t imagine another cause of a power spike in a 35 year old, it must be the stadium…

Mr. S
Guest
Mr. S
6 years 11 months ago

Oh shut up.

Victor
Guest
Victor
6 years 11 months ago

Smaller parks also reduce the number of Just Enough and Lucky home runs while bigger parks increase the number.

Rich
Guest
Rich
6 years 11 months ago

Whatever the effect is, it isn’t helping Swisher:

HR: Road: 18 Home: 3

AngMohClay
Guest
AngMohClay
6 years 11 months ago

There is a problem with your numbers, possibly the wrong number was stated.

You say his average homer distance was 380, and his average distance on “no doubts” and “plentys” was 378.

There is obviously something off here, because the mean of the set of the longest homers cannot be less than the mean of the set of all homers

Kevin S.
Guest
Kevin S.
6 years 11 months ago

But that’s not what it is. The mean of the set of all HRs is 380, but the 378 is the mean of the set of longest HRs at NYS. Confusing, yes, but I believe that’s what he was saying.

AngMohClay
Guest
AngMohClay
6 years 11 months ago

No, 380 is Damon’s mean distance. However, after looking at the data, I was initially wrong in my assumption that the 378 number was wrong. Saris writes:

“Talk about a dead pull hitter. The average true distance of a major league homer is 399 feet and the calculated speed of the ball as it left the bat is 103.6 MPH. Damon’s average distance is 380 feet per homer and his speed off the bat is 101.7 MPH. Does that mean a lot of cheapies for Damon? Hit Tracker actually helps us classify homers further, putting all big flies in four self-explanatory different bins: “Just Enoughs”, “Plentys”, “No Doubts” and “Luckys”.

Using those classifications, Damon has had one lucky homer at the New Yankee Stadium, four homers that had just enough on them to leave the yard, eight homers that were out by plenty and four no-doubters. The average distance on the no-doubter and ‘plenty’ homers was 378 feet; not tape measure shots by any stretch, but they had plenty enough on them to give some Yankee fan sitting in some overpriced right field seats a souvenir. ”

So the mean distance of all HRs is 399, and Damon’s mean HR distance was 380, then later he says the mean distance of Damons NYS “plentys” and “no doubts” was 378, lower than his overall mean. If all of the numbers are correctly stated, the writing is unambiguous that damons mean “plenty” and “no doubt” NYS HR distance is less than his overall mean distance

Looking at the data on HitTracker I now realize that although I did read Saris correctly, my conclusion was wrong. Here is the link: http://hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2009_4101&type=hitter

the following “table” is the location, type (hittracker classification type, i.e. ND=”no doubt”), and distance, sorted by location, then type, then distance.

Location..Type……Dist
A………JE……..363
A………ND……..399
A………ND……..424
A………PL……..373
A………PL……..397
A………PL……..400
A………PL……..400
H………JE……..348
H………JE……..357
H………JE……..366
H………JE……..399
H………JE/L……..347
H………ND……..385
H………ND……..392
H………ND……..397
H………ND……..397
H………PL……..348
H………PL……..354
H………PL……..369
H………PL……..372
H………PL……..375
H………PL……..375
H………PL……..379
H………PL……..401

So the mean of his home ND and PL is 378.66, as Saris stated, the mean of his Home HR generally is 374.1, and his away mean HR distance is 393.7.

There is a very real sample size issue here, but I think Saris is right in attributing most of his newfound power stroke to NYS. However, we should be hesitant in doing so too readily, the leverage of that one long HR in an away game (424) is quite high because our n for away HR is only 7.

It’s also worth observing, that 6/7 of Damons road HR have been of the ND or Plenty variety. It’s quite possible in the sample size of one season that he is getting “lucky” at home (5 JE or JE/L HRs), and “unlucky” on the road (only 1 JE HR).

There is obviously something going on with the right field at NYS, be it the RF distance or some sort of “wind tunnel” effect. But it’s pretty unclear if Damons HR numbers from this year suggest that he will continue to be able to utilize this new power alley.

don
Guest
don
6 years 11 months ago

Hittracker classifies its home runs based on how far they go out with respect to the wall at the place where they leave the park, so a 380 foot home run right down the line might be “no doubt” because it’s well over the wall there while a 440 foot home run to center field in Minute Maid park would be “just enough”. Something like that could be coming in to play too.

Tom B
Guest
Tom B
6 years 11 months ago

“Just Enough” home run – Means the ball cleared the fence by less than 10 vertical feet, OR that it landed less than one fence height past the fence. These are the ones that barely made it over the fence.
“No Doubt” home run – Means the ball cleared the fence by at least 20 vertical feet AND landed at least 50 feet past the fence. These are the really deep blasts.
“Plenty” home run – Everything else, except for the 2 above Homerun types
Lucky Homer – A home run that would not have cleared the fence if it has been struck on a 70-degree, calm day.

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