The Yankees three game losing streak this week brought out the worst in Yankee fans. After blowing a 5-1 lead to the rival Red Sox, and getting swept (in a 2 game series) to our main competition the Rays, bridges were crowded all over. I’m just trying to figure out why. Hell, twitter seemed to blow up as soon as the Rays jumped to a 3-0 on Andy Pettitte, and my guess is that it was Yankee fans discussing how much their team sucked that overloaded the servers. Friday night’s win and strong Javy performance saved some lives but last nights loss have the bridges crowded again. I’m here to just remind you all of a few important things. (stats as of Saturday morning)
Record: After 42 games, the Yankees have a 26-16 record (and a 27-15 Pythag), good for the 3rd best record in all of baseball. They have played just 19 games at home, where they have a .684 winning percentage (and .704 in 2009). Last year after 42 games they had played an even 21 games at home and on the road. After 42 games in their World Series season of 2009 (had to remind everyone) they were 24-18 and it took winning 10 of 11 just to get there. On May 22nd last year they were in 3rd place and had the 9th best record in baseball with a +1 run differential. This year their run differential is +69. Wow.
One run games: The Yankees finally won a one run game Friday night. They are now 1-4 in one run games, which should continue to improve. For the most part all teams will win roughly 50% of their one run games with good teams winning a little more than 50% and bad teams winning a little less than 50%. They are almost truly a tossup. Last year they were 22-16 in one run games for a .579 winning percentage with an overall winning percentage of .636. The 2003 Tigers, who won just 43 games were above .500 in one run games. They are due for improvement here.
Derek Jeter: Jeter, despite his (rather empty) 9 game hitting streak is struggling. It’s been dissected so I won’t get any further into it, but Jeter has gone through struggles in the past. While there is some concern that he could be slowing in his age 36 season, it’s still too early to have an major concerns over Jeter’s performance. In 2004, when he was famously booed during a 0-32 streak he was batting .190/.253/.279 after 42 games. There were questions then, as there are now about if he was slowing down at the age of 30, and while the slowdown is certainly more likely 6 years later, his .273/.316/.393 line doesn’t look quite so bad.
Alex Rodriguez: While A-Rod’s season ended as perfectly as possible, it got off to as rocky a start as possible. First he had the steroid scandal and there was concern about how a guy who was perceived to be weak mentally would concern the extra scrutiny. Then, soon after showing up to Spring Training, he ended up under the knife having surgery on his hip. There were articles proclaiming that the Yankees were better off without him. Seriously. That’s how bad it was a year ago for A-Rod. Due to the injury, A-Rod got off to a delayed start and a (aside from 1st pitch) slow start. Through May 22nd he had only played in 14 games. As late as June 23rd he was hitting .207/.362/.443. Again, as rosy as things ended, all was not well for A-Rod last year.
Red Sox: We all remember the 0-8 start against the Sox last year. I was almost ready to jump off a bridge then, as living in Massachusetts for that was terrible. This year the Yankees have a solid 5-3 record against the Sox, and have already played 44% of their season schedule against them, which is a good thing as the Sox have yet to hit their stride. Last year the Yankees didn’t beat the Sox until August. Think about that for a second. The trading deadline had already come and gone, and the Yankees (and us as fans) had yet to celebrate a win against their bitter rivals.
Rays: The Rays are a great team. They are better than they were in 2009 and will provide more competition for the Yankees. They aren’t, however, as good as they have played so far. They have had an easy schedule and recently lost key reliever J.P. Howell to a season ending injury. Unlike the Yankees and Sox, the Rays don’t spend the money (won’t vs. can’t) to upgrade when they lose a player to injury. Injuries can certainly derail the Rays more than the Yankees. They have also taken advantage of the struggling Sox (4-0), but still have 14 to play against Boston who will only get better as the season moves on.
I’m ok with getting pissed off at losses and celebrating wins, but no one game, one series, and one week of bad baseball should cause people to overreact. The 2009 Yankees went through losing streaks and managed 103 wins. The 2010 Yankees have gone through, and will go through more losing streaks and are on an early pace for 100 wins. I have done my best to comply with Zen Baseball, here’s hoping more people can hope aboard the train.
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