Yankee Stadium: lots of dingers, but not "Coors East"

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Mel Antonen of USA Today has an article up about all of the homers flying out of Yankee Stadium:

Indeed, two months into the season the most expensive stadium ever
built is being tormented by unpredictable winds and beset by a chaotic
debate over whether the home runs there are the cheapest aspect of the
$1.5 billion ballpark. “There’s no doubt that the new Yankee Stadium
has taken over as the best hitters’ park in baseball,” Baltimore
Orioles first baseman Aubrey Huff says. “Someone’s going to hit 90 home
runs there.”

And, yes, by any measure the homers are up. But that’s not the whole
story. That’s because while the homers are up in dramatic fashion,
overall offense, while up as well, is not up in nearly as dramatically.
As Replacement Level Yankees’ Weblog noted last week,
Yankee Stadium’s park factor on the young season is 106, which favors
offense. Fenway Park’s park factor over the past five seasons is . . .

Granted, it’s painfully early to be talking park effects — guys who
know more about these things than I do tend to want at least three
years of data before making anything approaching a definitive
conclusion — but helping to to put the numbers in perspective, Coors
Field’s lowest ever
park factor was 107, and for years sported park factors between 108 and
129, which made for a substantially more offense-friendly environment
than anything we’re seeing in New York.

I don’t suppose that makes the guys giving up the dingers any
happier, but it does put lie to the claim that Yankee Stadium is “Coors

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon
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I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.