3 Reasons Why, 3 Why Not (Yankees)

Well, no playoff discussion seems complete without considering the Yankees.  At least, over the last 18 seasons, that’s been the case.  17 playoff appearances in 18 seasons – a nice run.  Interestingly, this almost exactly coincides with Derek Jeter’s career beginning in New York.  The Yankees have only won one World Series since 2000, which (as strange as it might sound) might be a disappointment to a lot of their fans.  How might they fair this year?  Will the season end with #28?

3 Reasons Why:

  1. Pitching Through It – the Yankees have the 6th best LOB% in baseball (75.1%).  This is such an important stat in the playoffs.  Teams work hard to get baserunners, but it can be deflating if those baserunners don’t turn into runs.  And, the Yankees pitching staff is very good at busting that bubble.
  2. Turn Around – in games following a loss, the Yankees lead all of baseball with an .803 OPS.  This led to them having an impressive 41-26 record after a loss.  In the playoffs you have to be ready to move on to the next game, and be focused on winning it.  And, as the Yankees have proven this year, they have no trouble bouncing back after a loss.
  3. wRC+ – the Yankees are tied at the top of the league in this sabermetric stat.  It’s a stat that compares one team’s ability to create runs with the league average.  The Yankees’ rating is 113 – meaning, as a team, their offense has been able to create runs at a rate 13% higher than the league average – which is fantastic!

3 Why Not:

  1. Trouble with Tight Ones – while the Yankees finished the season with 95 wins (almost 30 games over .500), they actually have a losing record in 1-run games (22-25).  I find this especially interesting since they outscored every team but the Rangers over the course of the season.  So, it appears that they are either going to win games 8-4, or lose 4-3.  The playoffs have some tight games, and close competition.  That may make it hard on New York.
  2. Range – the Yankees, as a team, have committed fewer errors than almost any other team in the game.  But, there’s a reason for that – they don’t get to the balls most other teams do.  The Yankees may have the edge in fielding percentage, but they are well below average when it comes to any measurement of their range (UZR, RZR, or DER) – all of which suggest the Yankees are in the bottom 1/3 of the league in their ability to get to balls in play.  In general, the Tigers and Cardinals are the only playoff teams that are worse at this.
  3. Slow – I find it interesting that 2 of the 3 slowest teams in all of baseball were battling it out for the AL East crown.  The Yankees have the 3rd worst speed rating in baseball (4.1).  You know it’s bad when A-Rod, at age 37, who missed about a month of the season, was leading the team in steals until Ichiro came along.

Well, that’s the last of the A.L. teams for this year’s playoffs.  Check back tomorrow for my “confidence” picks.

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