Earl Weaver famously loved the three-run homer, something that has been sorely lacking from this year’s Red Sox squad. In fact, it isn’t just the three-runner, it’s all forms of the ding-dong that we’ve been missing. Gordon Edes documents the Sox’ lack of jack in today’s Globe, and mentions a couple of numbers in passing:
- Sox’ homers during August: 17
- Yankees’ homers during August: 36
So what is the relevance of the home run to success without the context of the rest of the team? The Red Sox are 14-9 in August (a winning percentage of .608, above their year-long pace) , with three famously blown games from Eric Gagne. Let’s say they pull down two of those three and they are 16-7, a winning percentage of .695. All without the benefit of tremendous power. The Yankees, on the other hand, have hit thirty six in 24 days! Insane. Yet their record is 14-8, for a winning percentage of .623. Turn a couple of late-game tight losses into wins and their record still compares to the Sox’ potential high number, 16-6. The rest of the context? Pitching and defense, the first two tenets of Earl Weaver’s strategy, the two keys to making the three-run homer relevant. For the Yankees, the pitching is the culprit – an August ERA of 5.25, the highest for any month of the year, throwing in a .289 average and .798 OPS against, also the highest for any month. The three run homer is clearly what’s saved them: they have a team batting average of .315 and a team OPS of .897 for August, not as high as July but still otherworldly. The Sox? Pitching and defense make the three-run homer less necessary – August has given the team a compiled ERA of 3.81 and BAA and OPSA of .242 and .680, all while the BABIP for their opponents sits at .280: we’re not looking at simply good luck here.
In the grand scheme, the two teams offer an interesting contrast. So next week’s series should be compelling, just due to the sheer differences in style.