Last year marked the first time since 1999 that the Yankees did not have someone hit 30 home runs. But that’s where the similarities between an 85-win team decimated by injuries and one that won the second of three straight World Series championships end.
After Robinson Cano’s team-best 27 home runs, the drop off was steep to Alfonso Soriano’s 17 home runs in 58 games. The team had 144 home runs all year, the lowest since the forgettable 1989 Yankees finished with 130.
Home runs tend to have positive and negative effects on fans.
When the Yankees were slugging 245 home runs, there were complaints. That reliance ultimately hurt them when they stopped hitting in a four-game ALCS sweep against the Tigers in 2012.
Now fans are wondering where the power is on a team that has 48 home runs and is on pace for 140.
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The answer for Yankees and their fans might lie in the right wrist of first baseman Mark Teixeira. Teixeira leads the team with nine home runs but has missed 19 games with hamstring and wrist injuries.
When Teixeira has not played, the Yankees are 10-9 and in those games have 15 home runs and 73 runs. They have not hit a home run and scored just 17 runs in the five games he has missed.
Teixeira was slotted back into the lineup Tuesday from the right side of the plate where he has had one home run in 35 at-bats.
“It’d be huge because he’s a run producer, a guy who hits the ball out of the ballpark, a switch hitter who breaks up things for us, so it would be huge,” manager Joe Girardi said of Teixeira’s return before Tuesday’s game with Oakland.
Still, it falls on others to start driving the ball better, notably catcher Brian McCann and Alfonso Soriano.
McCann took a .230 average into Tuesday night and 13 of his 42 hits have been for extra bases. Soriano entered last night with a .230 average, hitless in 13 at-bats and with six home runs.
If they are playing well, along with Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, the power might return for a team that has 70 runs and 14 home runs in the 19 games that Beltran has missed with a right elbow injury.
“I think it’s important that they do what they’re capable of doing,” Girardi said. “We know that they’re extremely capable of being run producers, driving the ball for doubles and home runs. The one thing is you can’t put too much on their plate and say you have to carry us because it has to be consistently up and down the lineup but when you add those two guys the lineup gets deeper and that helps as well.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.