Shades of 1986: Mets and Yankees Close April on Top
1st May 2022

It is a good year to be a New York baseball team. As a slightly truncated April came to a close on Saturday, the Yankees had the best record in the American League at 15-6 and the Mets were tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the best record in the National League at 15-7.

While not without precedent, the sight of both New York teams on top of their respective leagues at the end of April has been rare in the 61 seasons that the Mets and Yankees have coexisted. The last time it happened was 1986 — a year that turned out pretty well for the Mets. The only other time it occurred was 1976, when the Yankees closed April with a 10-3 record (eventually going on to lose the World Series) while the Mets were pacing the N.L. at 13-7 (they eventually failed to make the playoffs).

Of course, leading your league in April isn’t everything. In 2000, the Yankees were 15-8 at the end of April, a game behind Cleveland, and the Mets were 16-10, three games behind Atlanta. The New York teams ended up facing each other that October in the Subway Series, with the Yankees capturing the team’s third consecutive championship.

Finding the Sweet Spot at Yankee Stadium

Finding the Sweet Spot at Yankee Stadium


With April having come to a close, Anthony Rizzo of the Yankees is leading the majors in home runs with nine.

Here’s how the first baseman benefits from Yankee Stadium’s design →

Finding the Sweet Spot at Yankee Stadium


Rizzo, 32, is no stranger to power. He has hit at least 22 homers in each full season since 2013 (he had 11 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season). He hit 31 or more in each season for the Cubs from 2014 to 2017.

Finding the Sweet Spot at Yankee Stadium

This year his home runs are different. Seven of the nine have come at home and one of them, a 327-footer against Baltimore, would have been out of the park only at Yankee Stadium. Two others would only have left seven or fewer stadiums.

Finding the Sweet Spot at Yankee Stadium


Yankee Stadium’s design is helping Rizzo. The field is only 314 feet down the right field line, and the distance stays relatively short before reaching 385 feet in the right-center power alley and 408 feet at its deepest point.

Finding the Sweet Spot at Yankee Stadium


A short porch in right is a Yankee Stadium tradition dating to the original “House That Ruth Built.” Playing to Babe Ruth’s strengths, the old park was, at one point, only 295 feet down the line but extended to 490 feet in center.

Finding the Sweet Spot at Yankee Stadium


It was not unusual for older parks to have short porches — Fenway Park’s Pesky Pole in right is only 302 feet from home — but those fences typically formed an arc, while Yankee Stadium’s stays short and flat into right-center.

Finding the Sweet Spot at Yankee Stadium


For his part, Rizzo says he is not trying to exploit anything. “I’m not worried about what park we’re playing in,” he told reporters this week. “I just try to have my at-bat. I think that just comes with experience in the big leagues.”

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