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Archive for May 29th, 2011

After 50 games, and one day before Memorial Day marks the titular quarter pole of the season, the Yankees’ record stands at an underwhelming 27-23.

Yankees’ Record After 50 Games, 2002-2011

Year Record Pct. RS RA Final Record Result
2002 32-18 0.640 273 193 103-58 Division Champ
2003 29-21 0.580 279 219 101-61 AL Pennant
2004 31-19 0.620 283 243 101-61 Division Champ
2005 27-23 0.540 275 260 95-67 Division Champ
2006 30-20 0.600 301 232 97-65 Division Champ
2007 21-29 0.420 258 239 94-68 Wild Card
2008 25-25 0.500 222 223 89-73 3rd Place
2009 29-21 0.580 283 263 103-59 WS Champ
2010 30-20 0.600 278 209 95-67 Wild Card
2011 27-23 0.540 257 208

Source: Baseball-Reference.com

Although a .540 winning percentage is hardly a disaster, the way the Yankees have compiled their record is what makes it seem unfulfilling. Since reaching a high watermark of 17-9 on May 2, the Yankees have gone 10-14 and, in the process, lost 6.5 games to the Red Sox in the standings. The team has also played sloppily during the stretch, losing several close games of the type they always seemed to win in the past. As a result, the Yankees’ record is currently three games below its Pythagorean expectation.

In addition to the team’s poor play, another underlying concern is the schedule. Entering the season, the first two months looked like an opportunity for the Yankees to build a cushion, but instead the team squandered its heavy dose of home games by only going 17-13 in the Bronx. With 16 more games slated for June, the Yankees will have one last chance to capitalize on home cooking because, in the second half, 60% of the schedule will be played on the road.

As Bill Parcells once famously said, you are what your record says you are, and after 50 games, the Yankees are a very ordinary team. The good news, however, is 2011 seems to be shaping up as a year of unusual parity. Currently, 11 of 14 American League teams are within arm’s length of .500, which means even at 27-23, the Yankees still have the third best record in the league. Of course, they are also only three games removed from the 11th worst record. That’s why parity is a double-edged sword.

One of the most overused, and most accurate, baseball clichés is the season is a marathon, not a sprint. For that reason, it doesn’t pay to overreact to even a 30-game stretch early in the season because there is usually enough time to recover from a stumble. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern.

Like any marathon, it pays to know the course that lies ahead and the strength of the competitor who has slowly started to pull in front. In this regard, the Yankees have two formidable opponents. If the Yankees are going to win the A.L. East, they will not only need to regain their own pace, but do so on the road while chasing a Boston team that seems to have finally found its legs. As the season now turns to the second quarter pole on July 4, the Yankees need to either catch a second wind or risk being left behind in the dust.

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