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Archive for August 17th, 2011

(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

All season long, the Yankees and Red Sox have engaged in a seesaw battle for control of the American League East. Since May 13, the two teams have been separated by no more than three games. If not for the wild card, the rivalry could be headed for one of its most heated pennant races, but instead of a riveting final six weeks, Joe Girardi and Terry Francona could wind up worrying more about preparing for the post season than finishing in first place.

A.L. East Division Race, Game-by-Game Progression  (click to enlarge)

Note: Negative numbers represent games out of first place; positive numbers represent games ahead.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

Even though the wild card has diluted the meaning of first place, it is still an important benchmark. So, the Yankees have to feel pretty good about being in first place after game 120, especially considering the injuries the team has endured and its 2-10 head-to-head record against the Red Sox.

The Yankees have been in first place as late as game 120 in 54 of the franchise’s 109 full seasons (the strike years of 1981 and 1994 not included). Of that total, the team has failed to cross the finish line in first place in only nine seasons, including last year, when they made it as far as game 161 before ceding the top spot to the Rays.

Latest Date the Yankees Have Spent in First Place, 1901-2011  (click to enlarge)

Note: Green dots represent seasons in which the Yankees finished the year in first. Red dots represent seasons in which no games were spent in first place. No entry has been made for the strike seasons of 1981 and 1994.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

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