As the Yanks stand now, they’ve scored a whopping 555 runs, second only to the Tigers, and have allowed 443. Their +112 run differential, second overall in the Majors, is just one worse than the Red Sox’s +113. Based on their Pythagorean Record, the Yanks should be 60-38. Instead, they’re 52-46, a whopping eight games worse than expected. That Pythagoras is a real bitch, no?
As the Yanks have gone 10-3 since the All Star Break, they’ve emerged as a good team, and it’s in this run differential that we can see why the Yanks have a great shot at the playoffs. Let’s look at the contenders. The Red Sox and Tigers are legitimate playoff teams. Great offenses and great pitching will deliver an October berth. The Angels will probably make it because someone needs to win the West.
So that leaves us with the Indians, Mariners, Yankees and Twins as the only other AL teams over .500. The Mariners are playing through smoke and mirrors. They’ve scored 467 and have given up 464. They are outplaying their 48-48 record. The 2007 Mariners are better than recent Mariners’ teams, but I wouldn’t peg them much above 85 wins.
The Twins have a run differential of +40 but a record putting them just 2 games above .500. Like the Yanks, they are underperforming this season. I think they’ll end up with 87-89 wins.
The Indians are outperforming their record. They’ve given up 528 runs and have scored 472. They should be 55-44 but are instead 58-41. They lead the Mariners by 2.5 and the Yankees by 5.5. Based on numbers alone, the Yanks’ and Indians’ roles should be reversed with the Yanks 5.5 games up on the Indians instead of the other way around.
And that’s why I’m growing more and more confident each day that the Yanks can make an exciting run toward October. They have the offense; they have the pitching. Now, it’s just a matter of overcoming eight games of bad luck and poor bullpen management.
The Yanks are 8-15 in one-run games. Better relief management would have given them a few more wins there. Even going 11-12 in one-run games would put them in the thick of both the Wild Card hunt and the AL East race, and right now, that’s where this team is heading. But can they overcome that eight game difference? That’ll be the real question as we had down the stretch.