The Bandbox That Wasn't Prepared for Its 2nd Season

Yankees have built team for their stadium

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Apr 2, 2010  |  Updated 9:46 AM EDT
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We're still waiting to hear back from Peter Gammons to make sure it's official, but the new Yankee Stadium isn't the joke it was accused of being early last season.

Much to the chagrin of its detractors, the Stadium actually wound up playing as a mild pitchers park with all of the home runs getting balanced out by an overall drag on the hitters.

We'll see if that holds up this year and over the next couple as we work our way to a point where we can really understand what kind of effect the ballpark has on the games played inside of it. Last year taught a good lesson about counting chickens before they hatch or bemoaning home runs before they're hit or something and it taught a good lesson about not ignoring the people using the Stadium.

We actually learned the lesson twice in New York last summer. We learned it at Citi Field where people blamed the stadium for suppressing power when the Mets wouldn't have hit home runs in any stadium in the history of the game. And we learned it with the Yankees, who hit 136 of the 237 homers in the Bronx last year. You'd expect a much closer split if it was simply about the stadium.

The truth is that this Yankees team would hit home runs wherever they played. Their lineup is particularly well suited to the current park, however. Every one of their main power threats other than Alex Rodriguez swings lefty for some portion of their at-bats, all the better to take aim at the short porch in right field. Lefty power has always played well in the Bronx, but with the fence drawn in even further at the new digs it is going to be of greater importance.

Right, we know, the Yankees claim that there's no difference in the dimensions. That's why they traded for Curtis Granderson, a lefty hitter with power who was watching home runs turn into fly outs in the spacious Comerica Park. That's why Nick Johnson spent the spring working on hitting for more power and it must be why the Yankees noticably pitched differently to lefty hitters as last season progressed.

After so much hand-wringing early last season, the Stadium wound up confirming and confounding expectations. The Yankees have chosen to deal with it by exploiting the advantages it provides while not allowing them to become consumed with them.

That's a wise course since things may play differently this season and since the Yankees have a team good enough to win under any conditions.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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