The Yankees, as we know, are in first place. They lead the league in runs scored and are third in runs allowed. This makes for an excellent combination that should allow the Yankees to keep up their winnings ways throughout the summer. In fact, because of a few inefficiencies that have cropped up early in the season, we might even expect more winning from the Yankees in 2010.
One thing that stands out so far this season is how the Yankees have fared when scoring or allowing six runs. When they’ve scored six or more runs they’re just 4-4. That seems like an awfully low record for sigh a high-run-scoring environment. In 2009 teams that scored six runs had a .725 win percentage. The 2009 Yankees had a .786 win percentage, 11-3, when scoring six runs. Yet when the Yankees have allowed six runs this season they’re 0-6. No one expects a winning record when allowing six runs, but in 2009 the Yankees were 5-8 in those games. They stand to pick up a few games on both ends of the six-run spectrum.
As a testament to the improved pitching staff, the Yankees are 33-2 when the staff allows three or fewer runs. That’s not just an improvement in record, but also an improvement of occurrence. It means that in 35 of the team’s 66 games, or 53 percent of their games, they’ve held their opponent to a level where their offense should give them the game. The Yanks only held their opponent to three or fewer runs in 45 percent of games in 2009, and went 67-6. The offense comes into play when the pitching staff allows more runs. When allowing four, five, six, or seven runs the Yankees are 7-15, .318, this season. Last year they were 32-32 in those games.
The distribution of these games will change, I think, because it seems that the offense has been just a bit inconsistent so far. They’re only a tenth of a run per game behind last year’s pace, while the pitching staff is better than a half run per game better this year. These overall results should eventually even out and give the Yankees a better breakdown. They’ll eventually score more runs when the pitching staff gives up a bunch. At the same time, the staff appears improved over last year, which should also give the Yankees more wins in low-scoring games.
The lack of walk-off wins might be concerning, but I think blown leads in the middle innings has had a greater effect. This year the Yankees are 33-5 when leading after six innings. Last year they were 66-4. They’re quite excellent when leading after seven or eight, so it looks like this middle-inning lead changes have not favored them to this point. And yes, the comebacks have been concerning. They’re just 3-18 when trailing after six. Last year they were 16-52. Yet they’re still scoring late, averaging 2.11 runs from innings seven through nine compared to 2.21 last year. The problem, it seems, is that this year’s comeback attempts have been futile while last year’s resulted in whipped cream pies.
In a way it’s unfair to compare the 2010 team to the 2009 team. They have a number of different players, and while the 2009 team was special, the 2010 team, because of the improved pitching staff, has a chance to be better. They’ve run into some oddities early in the season, though they did last year too. I think many of those will even out — they’ll win some games when allowing six runs and will win more than half the game in which they score six. It’s a good thing we’re just two-fifths of the way through the season. Plenty can happen from now until October.