Dugout Digest: Bronx Bombers

The term “Bronx Bombers” is often thrown around in regard to the New York Yankees, but it is quite the apt description for this year’s club. Unfortunately for Derek Holland and the Texas Rangers, the Yankees were at it again last night as the Yankees added four home runs to their already impressive total. Mark Teixeira (twice), Ramiro Pena, and Eduardo Nunez took Holland (once), Mark Lowe (twice), and Neftali Feliz (once) deep on their way to a 12-4 rout of the defending American League Champions, and the Yankees stayed within 1.5 games of Boston while the Rangers allowed Seattle within a win of them for the AL West.

With 102 home runs, the Yankees lead the majors in home runs by more than 20 over their nearest competitor, the Arizona Diamondbacks. While Pena (1) and Nunez (2) aren’t skilled batsmen, the Yankees spend over $200 million a year to keep their team well-stocked with talent, much of that invested on the offensive side of the ledger. Teixeira’s two home run binge tied him for the team and major-league lead with Curtis Granderson at 21. Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano are tied for third on the team with 13, and Russell Martin, of all people, is next on the list with 9. But it’s Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson that intrigue me the most.

The duo lead all other MLB duos easily in the home run department, which shouldn’t be that surprising. Jose Bautista is tied for the MLB lead in home runs at 21, but his closest teammate is Adam Lind, giving them a combined 33 for the year. Tied with these Blue Jays are Carlos Quentin (17) and Paul Konerko (16) of the Chicago White Sox and Prince Fielder (19) and Ryan Braun (14) of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols (yes, the same Albert Pujols who struggled so mightily at the beginning of the year) of the St. Louis Cardinals are next with 32 combined, 17 and 15 respectively. David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez, 17 and 13 respectively, round out the 30-homer club for the Boston Red Sox. But the Yankees duo leads with 42 home runs already this season, and just in case you think it’s all Yankee Stadium-aided, both have a home/road split of 12/9 on the season.

For Mark Teixeira, the power isn’t all that surprising. Over his nine seasons in the majors, he’s hit over 40 homers once, +30 six times, 26 the other time, and is well on pace to add another notch to the 40+ homer column this season. For Curtis Granderson, however, these power numbers are unprecedented. Back in 2009, he hit 30 home runs, but he hit +20 in three seasons and 19 in the other full season he’s played. Those aren’t shabby numbers by any means, but not halfway through the season, he’s close to shattering his career-high in home runs. While there will certainly be suspicions of PED usage (I’m surprised that he hasn’t seen the publicity Bautista has), I think baseball is fairly clean at this stage, and Granderson, already a good power threat, is probably finding another gear at age 30 in a fairly offensive-friendly park and division. Good for him, and it’s good for baseball.

Other Games Last Night:

Josh Beckett refused to give ground in the AL East by throwing a one-hitterThe Braves, after taking seven straight last week, have now dropped three straightLivan Hernandez continues to justify his existence with a three-hitter for the NationalsThe Marlins have yet to win two games in JuneAnd Ricky Romero dominated the Oriolesamong other fine games.

Tonight’s Matchups:

Matt Garza and Zach Greinke duel in the Windy City … Clay Buchholz and David Price square off in Tampa … and Ryan Vogelsong will try to keep up his Cinderella story against Ian Kennedy and the Diamondbacks.