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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Sharp: Yankees chasing history down the stretch

This: “If the Yankees maintain their current season pace, they would become the first team in major-league history to post back-to-back winning seasons while being outscored by at least 20 runs in each year.”

The reasons for the Yankees outperforming their expected record in 2013 and 2014 are pretty clear.

The team has played extremely well in close games, going a combined 92-60 (.605) in games decided by two runs or fewer since last year, which is easily the best such record in MLB over the last two seasons. They led the majors in 2013 with a 50-30 record and are tied with the Orioles for the best record this season (42-30).

And they have been on the losing end of a lot of blowouts, going 29-38 in games decided by five or more runs, one of the worst marks in baseball since 2013. This disparity in their record in close/blowout games easily skews their run differential into the red.

Some people may argue that the Yankees have been “lucky” to win these close games. But the fact that they have done so in consecutive years probably means that more than simple luck is involved.

So what has been the Yankees’ “secret sauce” during this historical run of beating their expected record over the last two seasons?

...Simply put, the Yankees’ late-inning guys are not letting batters get on base in these close games, keeping enough runs off the board to either preserve the team’s slim lead or give the anemic offense a chance to win with a rare clutch hit or two.

So after the Yankees postseason odds inevitably reach zero this season and as you count down the days until Number Two tips his cap for the final time, remember that there will be one statistical record within reach for this Yankee team… albeit one that may be more forgettable than remarkable.

And, needless to say, while the Yankees’ current two-year stretch of defying their run differential at historic pace is quite a feat, it’s one that most fans would gladly replace with a couple postseason appearances and meaningful games to watch in October.

Repoz Posted: September 02, 2014 at 09:29 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4783704)
Three factors as I see them.

1) Random variation - they are probably lucky in some close games, and should have lost some of the games they won - this does not reflect well or poorly on the Yankees. It just is what it is.

2) The bullpen is strong at the top (Robertson/Betances: 2.05 ERA) and lousy at the bottom (rest of bullpen: 4.65 ERA). So with a lead they can shut down the other team, but when they're behind and pull the starter, it's just gonna get worse. The Robertson/Betances thing is good, but the important factor here is the rest of the bullpen - which doesn't reflect well on the Yankees.

3) Lousy offense - they don't score many runs, so when they win, a shutout by the pitching is still going to be a close game, and a poorly pitched game will be a blowout rather than a close loss. This obviously doesn't reflect well on the Yankees.

Basically, the Yankees are a mediocre team that can hold a late lead, but not keep a deficit from getting out of hand.
   2. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: September 02, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4783722)
Oh, they've also had good starting pitching.

Record when giving up 3 or fewer runs: 53-12
Record when giving up 4 runs: 11-11
Record when giving up 5 runs: 2-13
Record when giving up 6 or more runs: 4-29

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