Yankee offense flashing shades of 1998

Steve Serby's Q&A with Mariano Rivera
The "Joba is babied" line is tired by now

In most Yankee fans’ lives, no team has been better than the 1998 iteration. Led by a stellar offense and a top-notch pitching staff, the Yankees went 114-48 and finished with a 22-game lead. While they would lose two games to the Indians in the ALCS, that would be the only post-season blip en route to a four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres in the World Series.

What really impressed the most about that team was its balanced approach. Nearly every starter had an outstanding career year, and the Yanks lead the world with 965 runs scored.

Recently, as Steve Lombardi pointed out last night, the Yanks have been on a 1998-style tear. Since the All Star Break, the Yankees are 23-6, and since June 24th, the Yanks are 36-11. As Steve notes, that’s a 124-win pace over a full slate of 162 games. That’s just insane.

Since that fateful night in Atlanta when Brian Cashman addressed the Yanks behind closed doors, the team has been killing the ball. They are hitting .290/.370/.495 as a team over the stretch and averaging 5.9 runs per game. The pitching has flashed a staff ERA of 3.66 over those 47 games.

All of this got me thinking about the 1998 team and the Yankee offense. Take a look at this chart comparing offenses:

Besides the utterly sick seasons of Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter in 1998, what sticks out are the similar OPS numbers. Right now, the 2009 Yankees are actually hitting better than the record-setting 1998 club. The current team’s run-scoring pace is off the 1998 mark, but this is a truly special offense.

Right now, of course, we have no idea how the 2009 story ends. With a 7.5-game lead over Boston and an eight-game lead over the Rangers, the second-place Wild Card team, the Yanks have a better shot to make the postseason than any other team in baseball. Cool Standings pegs their playoff odds at 98 percent while Baseball Prospectus has them at 99.1 percent. While nothing is over until it’s over, this one’s pretty close.

Hopefully, though, as shades of 1998 echo through the offense and pitching staff, the Yankees can write a similar ending. This team is certainly good enough.

Steve Serby's Q&A with Mariano Rivera
The "Joba is babied" line is tired by now
  • dkidd

    do we have any idea what cashman said that night?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Nope. I’m very curious to find out.

      • Peter Lacock

        He told Girardi to go out, get tossed and make sure everyone knows it’s time to turn it up.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      That was my question. What the HELL did Cashman say???

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        I read a transcript at an RNC fundraiser awhile back. Something about Dick Cheney, extraordinary rendition, next Toronto game and waterboarding. I forget–the avocado crab dip was awesome.

        • LiveFromNewYork

          He threatened to shoot them in the face, didn’t he?

          Way to make a team full of pretty boys perform.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

            No no, you’re misunderinflunced by the Times.

            He simply offered to take them hunting. Alone. At a 125,000 acre ranch in South Dakota. That’s all.

    • Salty Buggah

      Imagine if he didn’t say anything that night and just sat there. He had a meeting for the sake of having a meeting and to show the media. Now that that would be funny.

  • John Duci


  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

    Nice post, Ben. I’ve been thinking the exact same thing for a while.

    • Chofo

      This team makes the 1998 look more special, as they did this for a whole year and got a ring

  • Rebecca optimmist prime

    Fuck me sideways I love this team!

  • Bugsy

    These Yankees are making a lot of Yankees classics this year.

    • Rebecca optimmist prime


  • JobaWockeeZ

    I remember once I was told delusional by Lanny by comparing this team to 1998 when the Yankees struggled earlier…

    Anyways this is one of the best Yankee teams in a few years in my opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if they came near the 1998 mark.

  • Johan Iz My Brohan

    I miss Bernie and Tino ='(

  • http://twitter.com/Hopjake Jake H

    I’m loving this years Yanks. To me they have the best shot of winning in the post season. It just seems as this team does the right things to win games.

  • Nick

    I forgot how awesome Bernie was in his prime.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Derek Jeter: in decline. The stats prove it.

    Relax Bo, nobody cares. We live him (no homo, not that there’s anything wrong with that)

    • zack

      What’s the deal with “no homo.” Really, do we need to use that stupid and offensive tradition here? As if anyone is going to accuse you of being gay? As if we need to throw around borderline slurs because they do it elsewhere?

  • Thomas A. Anderson

    And once the postseason starts, the 09 Yanks will face almost the same overwhelming pressure that they HAVE to win the World Series. Moreso than other seasons.

    Hate to be a killjoy, but we all know the deal w/this team in this city.

    Kinda takes a little of the fun out of it. Just a little.

    • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

      Kinda takes a little of the fun out of it. Just a little.

      When my favorite team is completely rolling over the entire league there isn’t really anything that anyone else can say or think that is going to take the fun out of for me.

      • Thomas A. Anderson

        No I don’t mean like right now. But you just know that after the great season that the team has had, if they don’t at least Win the AL, there is gonna be a shitstorm of epic proportions and the season will be looked at as a colossal waste.

        That’s what I mean. And I’m the diametric opposite of the Chicken Little type of fan too.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Yanks Dodgers WS would be sick. Here’s to the resurgence of Torre’s narcolepsy.

    • Kiersten

      I would love nothing more than to beat Joe Torre in the World Series and show all those Torre-lovers that the Yankees made Joe Torre, Joe Torre did not make the Yankees.

  • losjanks

    ugh…just tried reformatting the chart so that players were lined up next to their ’98 counterpart by position to give a different context but I don’t know how to put a chart in here.

    Ben’s list is great, but setting it up by batting order show’s things in one light whereas having Melky (97 OPS+, 8.4 VORP) in CF next to Bernie (160 OPS+, 71.7 VORP) shows something completely different.

    It also shows what a crazy year Brosius had (by his career’s standards) and that A-Rod is not quite the A-Rod of old (but still damned good).

  • losjanks

    An interesting tidbit…these are the aggregate ?’s for OPS+ and VORP:

    OPS+, +21

    VORP, -98.3

    So, if I’m reading/interpreting that right…this year’s team is seemingly better on a more absolute scale than the ’98 team, but the ’98 team was a lot better in comparison to the rest of the league at the time.

  • losjanks

    meh…the ? mark in the first line should have been the Greek character for delta (it didn’t copy over from Open Office)

  • Kel

    I think the talent is definitely spread out more now. I do think this years team has a deeper pen. I think the lineups are pretty equal but I still give the edge to 98 when it comes to starting rotation. That rotatation was so clutch in the postseason.

  • Don

    Off-topic here, but Im watching the start of the Sox-Rangers game on TBS, chuckling while listening to Skip Caray try and rationalize how the Red Sox are going to catch the Yankees. Real funny stuff.

    Speaking of overrated, did anyone else notice Jason Varitek surrendered 8 stolen bases in one game for the second time this year. When looking at Varitek as a player, the movie “Office Space” comes to mind when the “quality control experts” ask one of the office workers, “What would you say you do here?”

  • Bugsy

    This prolly not the right forum for this but here it goes anyway. I hate that Ron Washington still insists on hitting david murphy and marlon byrd in the 3 and 4 spots, respectively. How are they winning games with this nut?