Aug
03

The battle over just getting there

By

As is often the case, Yankee fans are in a tizzy for no good reason at all. Today’s panic-inducing moment came when Alex Rodriguez grounded out to end the game last night, and the Yankees slipped into a first-place tie with the surging Tampa Bay Rays. Over the last four games, the Yanks had lost three of them, and their once-lofty three-game lead was all but gone. Never mind the 88 percent playoff odds, second only to the AL West-leading Rangers; it was time to panic.

Of course, this panic is a distinctly New York-centric panic. The Yankees must be the best at everything. The must win the AL East decisively. They must steamroll their way through the playoffs. They must win the World Series. It comes with the territory, and it creates some awfully depressed fans when the Yanks lose — something they’ll do around 60-66 times this year.

The truth is that getting there is the main goal. If the Yankees win the Wild Card, it will be a disappointing outcome, but if they’re the first to 11 wins in October, it doesn’t matter how they got there. No one in Boston thinks less of the Red Sox for winning the Wild Card in 2004, and no one in New York discounts the Marlins’ 2003 victory since they were “only” the Wild Card team. Since 1995, the Wild Card teams have been making waves, and quite frequently, the fourth seeded playoff team is better than the two other division winners.

That said, I want the Yankees to win the East for a pair of reasons. First, I want the bragging rights. The Yankees are the Yankees, and the East should be theirs. It’s a part of the arrogance of being a Yankee fan that I readily embrace. Second, with the way things are shaping up, the second best division winners will probably be the Texas Rangers, and I’d rather not see the Yanks face Cliff Lee twice in a five-game series. That, it appears, is the fate that awaits the Wild Card winners.

So how will the Yankees get there? The path is not an easy one. I’ve compiled the remaining schedules for the Yankees and Rays (and, for good measure, the Red Sox). Using a weighted winning percentage — a rather simple formulation — as well as the three teams’ season results against their opponents, I’ve found that the Ray have the easiest schedule to fill out the season and have performed best against their opponents. To win the division, the Yanks will have to get hot and stay that way against good teams.

We’ll start with the Yankees. In the following table, the two columns on the left show how many games the Yanks have remaining against their opponents and the winning percentage of those opponents. The right-most columns show how many games the Yanks have played against those opponents and the winning percentage in those games. The two totals on the bottom are the weighted averages of each.

Team Games W% Games Played W%
Blue Jays 11 .519 7 .429
Red Sox 10 .566 8 .625
Tampa Bay 7 .629 11 .455
Orioles 6 .305 12 .833
Rangers 5 .581 3 1.000
Royals 4 .425 4 .750
Tigers 4 .500 4 .250
A's 4 .505 6 .833
Mariners 3 .368 7 .571
White Sox 3 .567 3 .667
    .509   .631

So the Yankees have 57 games left, and their opponents have a winning percentage of .509. So far this year, the Yankees are beating the teams handily with a combined winning percentage of .631. The Orioles, in particular, have played dead for the Yankees this year.

Next up, we have the Rays:

Team Games W% Games Played W%
Blue Jays 9 .519 9 .667
Orioles 9 .305 9 .778
Yankees 7 .629 11 .545
Angels 6 .505 3 .667
Red Sox 6 .566 12 .667
A's 4 .505 5 .600
Royals 4 .425 4 .500
Twins 3 .557 5 .800
Tigers 3 .500 4 1.000
Rangers 3 .581 3 .333
Mariners 3 .368 6 .833
    .491   .676

As I mentioned before, Tampa Bay has a very easy go of it. Their opponents combine for a .491 winning percentage, and the Rays have played .676 baseball against these teams this year. Their final 57 games could be a cakewalk.

Finally, let’s take a peak at the Red Sox. More so than the Yankees and Rays, Boston controls its own destiny. The Red Sox are 6.5 games back, not really in it but not really out of it, and they still have 16 games left against the Yankees and the Rays. They haven’t played well against these two teams yet this year, but a few key wins could see them enter the AL East mix.

Team Games W% Games Played W%
Yankees 10 .629 8 .375
Blue Jays 9 .519 9 .778
Orioles 7 .305 12 .500
White Sox 7 .567    
Mariners 6 .368 4 .500
Rays 6 .629 12 .333
Indians 3 .425 5 .400
Rangers 3 .581 7 .429
Angels 3 .505 7 1.000
As 3 .505 6 .500
    .510   .529

The Sox face some tough opponents and haven’t played particularly well against these teams so far. Of course, past performance isn’t indicative of future success, but the Red Sox will have to show improvement to overcome a large gap. The playoff odds report has them in the playoffs just 22 percent of the time.

So to just get there, the Yankees have to do what they’ve been doing all season. To get there on top, they’ll have to do even better. It won’t be an easy fight, but what would August and September be without a thrilling pennant race between two good teams and a third that just won’t go away?

Categories : Analysis
  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    The 2010 Boston Red Sox: http://www.cuadp.org/book_imgs/B00000K0DQ.jpg (safe)

    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

      Just like a few weeks ago; co-sign.

    • Steve O.

      http://tiny.cc/hzdnu

      I sent this to Theo Epstein last week.

  • D

    boy i would give anything to have tampa’s schedule. Here’s to hoping for an unexpected large losing streak for the rays

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Their (now 6) good young starters makes the team pretty slump-resistant. As does their ability to win road games (which is tied to the great starting pitching, of course).

      It’ll be tough. I still think we’ll take ‘em, though.

      • Steve O.

        Exactly, If they do get into a slump, it won’t be because a lack of pitching. Jeremy Hellickson shut down the Twins last night.*

        *Although without Mauer or Morneau, still impressive in his debut.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          As someone pointed out, though, some of those young arms might reach their previous innings highs – and who knows what happens then. (Not in any way trying to discount Tampa’s pitching here. It is excellent.)

          • Not Tank the Frank

            Yeah I’ve been thinking (and waiting) all along for their young starting pitchers (Price, Davis) to tire. Combine that with a correction for Niemann (3.08 ERA, 4.25 xFIP) or maybe a slump to one of their pitchers and that could be all the Yankees need. They’re a hell of a team though.

          • Steve O.

            It’s not a problem for Jamie Shields, Matt Garza, and Jeff Niemann. I can see it being a problem for Wade Davis and David Price, with both at 195 and 162 innings as a career high, but maybe they’d go with Andy Sonnanstine? Although ZiPS has Davis finishing the season with only 178 innings, leaving a lot left in the tank for the playoffs.

            Shields-Garza-Niemann-Davis/Sonnanstine vs. Sabathia-Pettitte-Burnett-Vasquez.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              I bet it would be Hellickson instead of Sonnanstine. It’d be a lot of innings for him, too, but he’s been throwing some lower-stress innings chewing up minor league guys with ease.

              • Steve O.

                Yeah, now that I think about it, I think you’re right. He’s due for about 60-70 more innings, for about a 30 inning jump from his previous career high, but as you said, they’re relatively low stress innings. I could see them not having as much faith in Sonnanstine and Davis with the way they’ve been pitching this season.

              • Chris

                Every time I look at the ‘great young pitcher’ that comes up, I am amazed at how young Phil Hughes is. He’s 10 months older than Hellickson. If Hughes was born a week later, then both Hellickson and Hughes would (nominally) be in their age 23 seasons.

                • Steve O.

                  Hughes skyrocketed through the system. Dude pitched only 330 minor league innings, in parts of 5 years. That’s nothing compared to Joba though, he only pitched 88.1.

  • Steve O.

    The playoff odds report has them in the playoffs just 22 percent of the time.

    So you’re saying there’s a chance?

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

      They’re not dead yet.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        I don’t see a visit to Miracle Max in their future.

  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

    Yeah, agreed with everything here. Interesting article, too.

    There seems to be an unnecessary amount of panic over the weekend’s series and how Tampa is so much better and hungrier and etc. than we are and how our lineup can’t compete with theirs and our pitching isn’t half as good, etc. Did we not take two out of three from them at the Stadium recently, when the Rays are an excellent road team?

    It’d be nice if the Angels could win a game against Boston, good lord. I know they’re not very good this year but they’re not that bad that they should be 0-7 against them. Then again, you could say that about Minnesota and the Yankees last year, and just look at Baltimore/Cleveland vs. Boston. If that was the case with the Yankees vs. either one of those teams, people would be freaking out about how “championship teams just don’t lose to those teams!” or whatever.

  • Thomas

    FWIW,

    NYY: 30 at home (.667 winning percentage) and 27 on the road (.593)
    TB: 27 at home (.611) and 30 (.647)
    BOS: 27 (.593) and 29 (.538)

    • RL (on the east coast this week and still can’t see a Yankee game!)

      I like these numbers better. If the Yankees and Rays both perform to their current standards, the Yankees end up ahead. As I Yankee fan, I DEMAND that they win the east! :-)

  • Chris

    Second, with the way things are shaping up, the second best division winners will probably be the Texas Rangers, and I’d rather not see the Yanks face Cliff Lee twice in a five-game series.

    Sure, Cliff Lee is (probably) the best starter among the possible playoff opponents, but he’s not that much better than the other pitchers the Yankees could face. Here are the FIPs of some starters the Yankees could face:

    Cliff Lee: 2.51
    Francisco Liriano: 2.07
    Gavin Floyd: 3.08
    John Danks: 3.33

    • Guest

      I did not realize Liriano had turn it around to that extent. Wow.

    • D

      ’s not that much better than the other pitchers the Yankees could face. “

      yes. yes he is much better than any other 1st game starter.

      • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

        No, no he’s not. Somewhere along the line the legend of Cliff Lee far exceeded his actual abilities. He’s great, don’t get me wrong, but my God people are making him out to be the second coming.

      • Chris

        The three possible Yankee opponents in the first round (White Sox, Twins, Rangers) have pitchers ranked 1st, 2nd, 5th and 9th in the AL in FIP.

        Cliff Lee is currently second in the AL in both FIP and WAR behind Liriano. You can make a reasonable case that not only is Lee not significantly better than the other starters, but that he is actually not even the best starter.

    • iYankee(next generation from Apple)

      ZZ posted this response yesterday…. something to consider.

      There is a major difference between Cliff Lee and the alternatives.

      Liriano averages 6.4 innings per start. He is someone that you can really bet on will give you a chance a crack at the bullpen. Bullpens really get exposed in the postseason.

      Gavin Floyd 6.2 innings per start. John Danks 6.6 innings per start. Both demonstrably worse pitchers than Cliff Lee and maybe even in the same category as Texas’ 2nd starter in CJ Wilson.

      Cliff Lee is averaging 8.1 innings per start this year. Those extra innings he provides over Liriano especially in the playoffs makes facing him significantly tougher.

      • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

        Seattle and Texas don’t give a shit about Cliff Lee’s future, while Minnesota cares a ton about Liriano’s.

        • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

          Ron Washington doesn’t care about white people!

          /reverse Kanye’d

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Well played.

      • Chris

        My point isn’t that I’d rather face Lee. My point is that the gap between Lee and the other possible opponents isn’t as large as people make it out to be.

  • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

    Oh yes first place would be great. Whoever wins that weak central division is not as tough as the Rangers.

  • Greg G.

    Ben,

    This is a very logical and well-stated post.

    Nevertheless, I think I’ll panic.

    [Runs off, screaming]

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I read that finishing in second place attracts bears. The bears can smell the Wild Card.

      • Tampa Yankee

        Well, that’s just great. You hear that, Cash? Bears. Now you’re putting the whole team in jeopardy.

        • Evan3457

          Just have a pic-a-nic basket or two ready, and the bears will be fine with that.

          /childhoodcartoon’d

  • Ivan

    I think the yankees will win the division. Will it be hard, absolutely, but who said it was going to be easy. I think the yankees have 1 more big run in them especially in september.

    As for the playoffs, im going to be honest, Ben said that I don’t want to face the Rangers in a 5 game playoff series especially with Cliff Lee. How about does any team want to go against the Yankees in a playoff series. If their is one team that scares the heck out of me in playoff series it’s the New York Yankees. Lets face it, if your TB, Texas or even Minnesota, you want to face the yankees in a long playoff series? (home field or not) I understand what you were saying Ben, but I think the Rangers fear the Yankees alot more than the Yankees(or yankee fans) fear them.

  • http://twitter.com/YanktheMike yankthemike

    some have said that facing Liriano would be almost as frightening a prospect as Lee, but not when you factor in the Rangers offense. Especially the way they hit at home. I hate to bring it up, but in a short series so much is going to depend on whether we get good AJ or bad AJ. that is unless Girardi is smart enough to have Andy pitch game 2.

    • Brooklyn Ed

      if this was 4 years ago, I would had been scared of facing Santana AND Liriano. Liriano’s numbers don’t lie.

      • http://twitter.com/YanktheMike yankthemike

        and i remember 4 years ago being thrilled that we weren’t going to have to face the twins in the ALDS- was so excited on the last day of the season when we found out we were going to play the Tigers. Well Suzyn, you just can’t pre…..

    • RL (on the east coast this week and still can’t see a Yankee game!)

      unless Girardi is smart enough to have Andy pitch game 2.

      Or Phil or Javy in game 2 to split up the lefties.

    • Bret

      There is no way Burnett can be the number 2 starter going into postseason at the moment unless he pitches 11 shutouts in a row and even then it would be questionable. The rotation would be CC, Pettitte (assuming full health), Hughes, Vazquez if necessary, if no 3 man rotation.

      Another factor in Tampa/Yanks race, Tampa is younger and both teams are playing a bunch of games with no off days. Tampa also has more ability to rest players and not lose much (Zobrist, Sean Rod, Brignac can all shift around). Arod and Jeter are clearly tired on the current stretch and Posada has proven he can’t catch everyday without getting hurt. I think the odds strongly favor Tampa at the moment to get the division but it doesn’t matter much unless the Red Sox get moving.

      • Guest

        If AJ Burnett pitches 11 straight shut-outs, I would be fine with him being our number 2 starter. I would not consider this questionable.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Yep.

          Bret, what team do you root for? Just wondering.

      • Steve O.

        The rotation would be CC, Pettitte (assuming full health), Hughes, Vazquez if necessary, if no 3 man rotation.

        It’s assumed that Hughes will go to the bullpen to ensure that he doesn’t pass his innings limit.

        Another factor in Tampa/Yanks race, Tampa is younger and both teams are playing a bunch of games with no off days. Tampa also has more ability to rest players and not lose much (Zobrist, Sean Rod, Brignac can all shift around). Arod and Jeter are clearly tired on the current stretch and Posada has proven he can’t catch everyday without getting hurt. I think the odds strongly favor Tampa at the moment to get the division but it doesn’t matter much unless the Red Sox get moving.

        The Rays play on turf in half their games, which is a lot more taxing than grass. Sean Rodriguez stinks. The Rays bench is no better than the Yanks, and besides, the Yankees have better regulars. Joe Maddon and Joe Girardi both like to give off days to their players, even discounting age.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Sean Rodriguez stinks.

          But Jon Heyman told me he was the second coming in Spring Training!

          • Bret

            I wouldn’t discount his defense. Obviously he is having a tough year offensively but the ability to fill in a various positions and play solid defense at all of them is useful. In game 1 of the WS with full health, he would not be in the Rays lineup but to say he stinks as a utility player is crazy. Every other team in baseball would love to have him in that role including the Yankees – and on most teams he would be an everyday player getting consistent ABs.

          • Bret

            But you would much rather have Ramiro Pena and his OPS + of 27 in the utility role right?

            • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

              No, and I don’t think Sean Rodriguez stinks either. I just thought Jon Heyman’s fapping over him based on *Spring Training* was utter hilarity. Cute strawman though.

            • Steve O.

              Ramiro Peña has 102 ABs, Sean Rodriguez has 266, making him more than a bench player. Peña has a wOBA of .219, Rodriguez has a wOBA of .308. They both stink, Peña smells like shit, while Rodriguez smells like bad hygiene. Rodriguez is strictly a 2B, but Peña can play SS, 3B, and 2B.

              But you would much rather have Ramiro Pena and his OPS + of 27 in the utility role right?

              When did I say this? Don’t put words in my mouth.

              • Bret

                The regular Rays lineup is Bartlett, Zobrist, Joyce, Brignac in some form 2B, RF, SS. Bartlett was hurt, Pena is hurt, Zobrist is hurt which is why SRod has so many ABs. He isn’t supposed to be playing regularly but he is a great guy to have on any team.

                • Steve O.

                  He was their starting Second baseman to start the season. He has since sucked, and been demoted to the bench. Sean Rodriguez stinks. He is a decent bench player. Just because he’s a bench player doesn’t mean he can’t suck and still be better than Ramiro Peña.

          • Steve O.

            jon heyman is a bk randy, i’ll wreck him in cod mw2 and dropshot him so badly

        • Bret

          I heard Girardi specifically say that Hughes innings’ limit will not matter in postseason. Whether that means bullpen I’m not sure but it doesn’t sound like that – I can’t see him being put in the bullpen if he is clearly the 3rd best starter on the team.

          The Yankees do have better regulars offensively but that means less than pitching down the stretch and the Rays clearly have a huge advantage there. Hughes hasn’t been very good since the All Star break, CC’s peripherals are troubling, A.J. is terrible this year, Pettitte is coming off injury barring a setback and Vazquez has been average. The Rays fill in with Hellboy, the Yankees fill in with Dustin Moseley.

          Only thing I’m worried about with the Rays is how serious the Pena/Zobrist injuries are. They haven’t been on the field in a while and clearly they are a much better team when they play despite the current streak.

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            The Yankees do have better regulars offensively but that means less than pitching down the stretch
            a. You keep coming here to tell us how our offense stinks and how everyone who’s having a bad year will continue having a bad year, but how Cano/Swisher/Gardner will inevitably cool down at the same time. Hmmm.
            b. 2009 Yankees.

            Hughes hasn’t been very good since the All Star break, CC’s peripherals are troubling, A.J. is terrible this year, Pettitte is coming off injury barring a setback and Vazquez has been average.
            a. CC’s peripherals aren’t as troubling as some Tampa starters’
            b. Pettitte recovered fine from his last injury. Granted, it wasn’t the same thing.
            c. AJ leads the league in both starts of 6+ ER given up and 0 ER given up. He’s not so much consistently terrible as INCREDIBLY TERRIBLE when he’s bad and INCREDIBLY GOOD when he’s on.
            d. If you’re gonna play the “Hughes hasn’t been good since X” card, you have to play the “Vazquez has been quite good since X” card because they are both true.

            • Bret

              They are well behind the 2009 runs scored pace. I never said the offense stinks, I just said it wasn’t as good as 2009. It isn’t. And if Arod drives in 130 runs (as he is on pace for) with a .808 OPS it will be one of the most miraculous things in history. There is still plenty of room for decline and they are 35-40 runs behind last year’s pace anyway.

              As far as CC, no one on the Rays is making 23 million and none are signed through 2015.

              Petitte and Vazquez should be fine.

              AJ has major, major problems. See K/9 rate.

              • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

                Jose Guillen had 97 RBI with a .738 OPS in 2008. RBI- a worthless stat (but you knew that.)

                As addressed here already, why do you insist that all of the good things on the Yankees can decline, yet none of the bad things can improve?

                • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

                  i.e. The Hall of Fame left side of the infield has no room for improvement?

                • rbizzler

                  Is a proper answer, because he is a hater?

                • Bret

                  RBI is a worthless stat. I’m saying he has gotten very lucky to have so many RBI (a dependent variable stat) with such a low OPS (an independent variable stat). Nick Markakis has a higher OPS and has 48 fewer RBI (85 versus 37)

                  • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

                    Agree 100%, but who here is pointing to his RBI total and saying that he’s having a good season because of that?

                    • Bret

                      I’m saying the team runs scored is inflated because of it (the differential between performance and results).

                    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

                      That is unfathomably asinine. The main reason A-Rod’s RBI totals are inflated is because he has an abnormal amount of people on base ahead of him (members the Yankees I think.)

              • rbizzler

                Uh, what does CC’s contract and performance after this year have to do with the rest of this season and the playoffs?

                • Bret

                  His declining trendlines are troubling. He is very lucky to have such a low ERA with his peripherals this season. That affects this season and it affects the future. In 2011 if Matt Garza’s K/BB ratio plumments they can trade him and replace him with someone better. The Yankees are stuck with CC and AJ come hell or high water.

                  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                    In 2011 if Matt Garza’s K/BB ratio plumments they can trade him and replace him with someone better.
                    Magically? Just because they’re the Rays?

                  • rbizzler

                    Do you drink the Rob Neyer Cool Aid?

                    I mean, he has been harping on CC’s declining K/BB rates for over a year now despite CC being solid if not spectacular in pinstripes.

                    Do you get excited when Neyer says thing like ‘Jed Lowrie will outperform Derek Jeter’ (circa 2008) and Kevin Frandsen is a shrewd pick up for the Sox only to be disappointed when those statements turn out to be garbage?

                • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                  Thank you.

                  CC’s peripherals are a little =/-y but they were early on in the season before he went on that tear between May and the ASB. But Bret wasn’t talking about CC’s future with the Yankees, he was talking about this season.

                  Don’t worry guys, Bret’s just here for the objective baseball discussion though.

                  if Arod drives in 130 runs (as he is on pace for) with a .808 OPS it will be one of the most miraculous things in history
                  LOL @ “miraculous.” Even in just a baseball context, 2006 Cardinals. Dice-K’s 2008 with his peripherals. Edwin Jackson’s no-hitter. AJ Burnett’s no-hitter. Etc. It’s baseball, weird things happen all the time.

                  I never said the offense stinks,
                  No, but you did repeatedly say that the people having bad years would continue to do so while the people having great years would regress.

                  I just said it wasn’t as good as 2009. It isn’t.
                  Right, it’s not. But offense is down all around baseball, and the 2009 Yankees were one of the better offensive teams in, errrr, well, the history of the game, probably. The 2010 Yankee offense is still very good, combined with pretty darn good pitching (well, when everyone’s healthy).

                  • Bret

                    Fine with everything you said but CCs numbers will affect the rest of this year also. Either his K’s go up and his BB go down or his ERA will almost certainly rise quickly. He isn’t the 5.65 K/BB Cy Young winner at the moment regardless of ERA.

                    Find me another player with 130 RBI and a sub .810 OPS. I venture to say it has never happened in history.

                    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                      He isn’t the 5.65 K/BB Cy Young winner at the moment regardless of ERA.
                      No he’s not. Other than Cliff Lee, who is? This doesn’t mean he’s not a damn fine pitcher.

                      Find me another player with 130 RBI and a sub .810 OPS. I venture to say it has never happened in history.
                      I don’t have BB-Ref Play Index and I don’t particularly care. You find it, since you’re so determined to prove it.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      Find me another player with 130 RBI and a sub .810 OPS.

                      No. Because I’m not playing your silly arbitrary endpoints game of “ZOMG THE SKY IS FALLING!!!”

                    • Evan3457

                      Moose Salters of the 1936 White Sox would be the only one.

                      However, before this current week-long slump, his OPS was .850 or so. Make the cutoff at .850, and you add a Vern Stephens season, and an Enos Slaughter season.

                      Earlier in the season, his OPS was .880. If that’s the cutoff, we’re now up to 13 player-seasons. 5 of these players had 25 HR or less.

          • rbizzler

            Red Sox fan right?

            • Bret

              Why does it matter? I’m just giving objective analysis. They are behind last year’s runs scored pace, that isn’t an opinion.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                If it doesn’t matter, just tell us.

              • rbizzler

                In the interest of transparency on your part and curiosity on my part.

                As for the offense, despite not hitting their stride yet they are still leading the league in scoring (even if they are behind last year’s pace).

                Me thinks your ‘fact’ is largely irrelevant.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  As for the offense, despite not hitting their stride yet they are still leading the league in scoring (even if they are behind last year’s pace).

                  That. The Yankees scoring fewer runs this year than last year might worry me more if scoring wasn’t down across all of baseball.

                  • rbizzler

                    And the Yankees 2010 rotation wasn’t deeper and more talented than last year.

                    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                      They’re also thicker!

                    • rbizzler

                      /I’ll take your word for it…

                • Bret

                  I think it is important because wins are a function of runs scored/runs allowed. Their offense is still very good but 915 runs scored and 875 runs scored can make a big difference. And I personally think they have some fortune to be on the runs scored pace they are – I think it can be argued Swisher, Posada, Cano, Gardner are all playing above their heads – and if Arod’s 85 RBI having such a miserable year don’t tell you there has been some fortune I don’t know what will.

                  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                    The 2009 Yankees had a full season pythag of 95-67 (.586).

                    The 2010 Yankees so far have a pythag of 65-40 (.619).

                    Your Chicken Little act is asinine.

                    • Bret

                      The pitching has been unbelievable, that is the reason. And I just proved to you that CC is rising based on XFIP or FIP or however you want to value it, Pettitte was way above his FIP when healthy, and Burnett is starting to implode (he was 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA on May 4th, now he is 9-9 at 4.93).

                      As I said before, if the pitching holds they win 100 games easily but cracks are starting to show – 3-4 more Dustin Moseley starts probably won’t help.

                    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                      Burnett is “starting to” implode? Someone missed June.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      And I just proved to you

                      Lemme stop you there:

                      Bret, you haven’t proved shit. Ever.

                    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                      Also I’m not one to blindly go “FIP!!!!” but if you want to go that route, many of the Rays pitchers are overperforming that too. This is what annoys people about you, frankly: you only point out the bad/negative about the Yankees while ignoring the bad/negative about other teams. You claim to be objective, and I have no issues with fans of other teams posting here and I can’t imagine anyone else would, but you’re very clearly not objective. At all.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      You claim to be objective, and I have no issues with fans of other teams posting here and I can’t imagine anyone else would, but you’re very clearly not objective. At all.

                      That. The problem with your “analysis”, Bret (and I use that term very loosely) is that you seem to believe all of the following things are absolutely and incontrovertibly true:

                      1.) All Yankees currently performing well will start to perform worse in the immediate future
                      2.) All Yankees currently performing poorly will keep performing poorly permanently
                      3.) Thus, any success the Yankees have had thus far is a mirage and an illusion and they’re going to start losing games at a precipitous rate that is as yet unforeseen by all (except you)
                      4.) All players of other teams currently performing well are legit and will keep performing well
                      5.) All players of other teams currently performing poorly will bounce back in no time
                      6.) Thus, all the Yankees competitors will soon begin winning games at a greater rate and will overtake the Yankees

                      That’s just not realistic, Bret.

                    • Bret

                      What am I not being objective about? Arod could certainly get hot at any time but before Barry Bonds very few people played much past 35 in terms of big time power. Jeter is now 36 – look at Ken Griffey the last couple years, eventually the music stops. I think Granderson could be a bit better, maybe Tex also. But every other position is either playing over their head or certainly justifiable considering age/PEDs. I would be glad to consider increased performance if you tell me where to look.

                    • Bret

                      If anything the Rays are playing below their heads. Zobrist wasn’t having his usual year, Upton has been terrible, Pena having an off season, Bartlett not a great year. Crawford and Longoria are about what you would expect. Maybe John Jaso is playing over his head and Matt Joyce lately but they have gotten nothing out of DH.

                  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                    I think it can be argued Swisher, Posada, Cano, Gardner are all playing above their heads

                    And Jeter and A-Rod are playing well below their heads, as you have gleefully pointed out many a time. What’s your point?

                    • Bret

                      Are they or is it a function of age/roids? Could be argued either way. Arod is off roids and is now 35 – is that coincidental? Jeter had a similarly bad year in 2008 – was 2008 and 2010 the aberrations or was 2009?

                    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                      Your argument gets shredded up, you bring up an irrelevant point. I’m shocked.

                      Point is, they’re not playing to the level they were last year, just like Swisher/Posada/Cano/Gardner are arguably playing over the level they did last year. That was my point. You’ll probably shriek something irrelevant right about now.

                    • rbizzler

                      Bret,
                      can you enlighten us as to the age/roids corollary you mentioned above? Being a Red Sox fan, you guys have been dealing with this same problem with Ortiz for two seasons now.

                      I would really love to hear your insight.

                      kthnxbye

                  • Evan3457

                    So let’s see, Swisher, Posada (?), Cano and Gardner are playing over their heads, and are likely to decline, but Tex, Jeter, and A-Rod are playing under their heads and are likely to decline as well.

                    /Tasty logic’d

              • rbizzler

                Are saddened by Lackey’s performance this year? Despite being touted as a horse when he was signed, he has been more like horse poop.

                Does the remaining financial commitment due Dicey-K scare you as well? Will the Red Sox continue to run him out there in an effort to justify his salary/hype to the detriment of the team?

                Do Big Papi’s prolonged slumps cause you concern for the stretch run? Or have you already bought into the ed Sox organization philosophy of poisoning the well, before iconic players leave town?

                /Bret’d

                • Bret

                  Not a Red Sox fan at all. Not a Rays fan either but do tremendously admire how their organization is run.

                  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                    I asked before: What team do you root for?

                    I’m a Yankee fan but I admire the ways both the Rays and the Red Sox run their organization, despite the swipes I may occasionally take at both teams. Imagine that.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      All of that.

                      Just say who you root for, Bret. It’s only a big deal because you’re making it one.

                    • Bret

                      Okay fine. I’m an Orioles fan but don’t see what that has to do with anything I’m stating. No one has been more critical of the way the franchise was run before MacPhail got there than I.

                    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                      I’m an Orioles fan

                      Oh gosh I now feel bad for being mean and I just kinda feel sorry. :(

                    • Bret

                      Good one.

                      The number 1 pick next year will be worth the pain.

                    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                      I wasn’t trying to be bitchy/snarky there. Really.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      See, that wasn’t a big deal, was it?

    • Steve O.

      Liriano is pitching ridiculously this season, with 5.5 WAR accumalated already, with Lee at 5.1.* All things considered, I’d rather face Liriano. Lee has a better track record, and he rarely, if ever, makes mistakes for any team to capitalize on.

      Lee missed a few starts, so he probably would be much closer in terms of WAR to Liriano than he is.

    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

      Minnesota’s RD is +91, Texas’ is +90.

  • RL (on the east coast this week and still can’t see a Yankee game!)

    unless Girardi is smart enough to have Andy pitch game 2

    Or phil or Javy to split up the lefties.

    • http://twitter.com/YanktheMike yankthemike

      yeah Javy is a good bet unless we are playing the Twins. I think i’d like 2 lefties going back to back against them.

  • iYankee(next generation from Apple)

    Second, with the way things are shaping up, the second best division winners will probably be the Texas Rangers, and I’d rather not see the Yanks face Cliff Lee twice in a five-game series.

    However, assume this scenario is true. That puts Lee in Game 1 – even if the Yankees lose that one, win the next two, Lee pitches in Game 4 – probably on short rest. That means no Lee in Game 5, further increasing the Yankees chances of advancing.

    This all assumes that Lee pitches a complete game or into the 8th. Texas’ bullpen is not that great – sporting a 74% save rate, allowing 32% of inherited runners to score.

  • Daniel

    “but what would August and September be without a thrilling pennant race between two good teams and a third that just won’t go away?”

    Ben, can’t help but wonder which you consider the second good team, and the team that doesn’t go away

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

      The Rays are the second good team, and the Red Sox won’t go away.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Who the f#$% are the Red Sox?

  • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

    FWIW:
    The offenses-the regulars (by wOBA)

    Hamilton (.447), Cruz (.414), Guerrero (.371), Young (.362), Kinsler (.359), Cantu (.314), Andrus (.311), Borbon (.289), Molina (.273)

    Morneau (.447), Valencia (.403), Young (.388), Mauer (.367), Hudson (.335), Kubel (.335), Cuddyer (.334), Span (.326), Hardy (.301)
    *Also Minny has Jim Thome (.393)

    The top 3 SP (by FIP)

    Lee (2.51), Wilson (3.89), Lewis (3.81)
    *Wilson has also FAR exceeded his career high in IP

    Liriano (2.07), Pavano (3.81), Baker (4.00)

    I’d rather play Texas.

    • Brien Jackson

      Well that would mean the Wld Card, which would mean being the road team in both series.

      • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

        You’re right. I should’ve said “I’d rather Minnesota plays really well and passes Texas, and as the AL East winners, play Texas.”

  • Riddering

    That said, I want the Yankees to win the East for a pair of reasons. First, I want the bragging rights. The Yankees are the Yankees, and the East should be theirs. It’s a part of the arrogance of being a Yankee fan that I readily embrace.

    This, pretty much. I don’t care how fun and athletic those young whippersnappers are. The AL East is the Yankees’ world. The Rays are just living in it.

    • Wooderson

      from someone who doesn’t particularly follow the rays, what makes them such an impressive organization? i know they’ve collected an exorbitant amount of draft picks over the years, but why are they able to compete at such a high level? can’t be just the draft picks. someone enlighten me!!!!!

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    Whatever allows us to play the Twins in the ALDS is what I want to happen.

  • Anthony Murillo

    Things aren’t looking too good for the Bombers. If we’re being honest with ourselves, Derek Jeter looks lifeless, A-Rod hasn’t been the A-Rod we’re all used to and is now stressing this stupid homerun, Burnett cannot be trusted, Hughes hasn’t pitched well, Vazquez cannot be trusted…

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

      As I said, many Yankee fans just like to panic for the sake of panicking. I can see that you didn’t take the time to read my post and learn for yourself why we shouldn’t be panicking.

      Does it make you feel better to assume that the Yanks, with a 6.5-game lead for a playoff spot in early August, will choke? Just wondering.

      • Anthony Murillo

        I’m not panicking, I never said they’ll lose the division or be knocked out of the first round. I’m just say that, right now, the Yankees need to get Jeter going, A-Rod needs to get a hot bat, Burnett needs to pitch better, etc…

        I still have faith they’ll finish in first place but we can’t pretend there isn’t any problems with the team at the moment.

        • Riddering

          Seriously, what the hell are we paying the Yankees for if they’re just sitting on their asses instead of getting guys going? C’MON! It’s simple. Just get our slumping players to perform like crazy and the division is ours.

        • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

          ..but what about the fact that Cano, Swisher, Teixeira, Gardner, and Posada are making up for their lack of production? Or CC, Vazquez, and Pettitte covering up for AJ’s struggles? You simply can’t have all 25 guys on a team performing to maximum efficiency. It’s never happened and never will.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          I still have faith they’ll finish in first place
          I’m not panicking

          Nothing in your first post indicated either one of those.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            That.

          • Anthony Murillo

            I understand that the entire roster will not perform to their maximum effort. Yes, I understand that Swisher, Cano, Texieria, Gardner, Posada (when he actually plays) are having great seasons. All I’m saying is that I would like for Derek “Ground out to short” Jeter get on a hot streak. I would like to see A-Rod get this stupid homerun out of the way (just like everyone else would), I would like for Burnett to pitch like I know he can pitch.

            If these guys get on hot streaks, it makes the Yankees much, much better. That’s all I want to see.

          • Wooderson

            wouldn’t an exciting division race be more interesting than just “winning the east like we should”? i’m confident they’ll make the playoffs, but damn if these next two months don’t excite the fuck out of me to see a good old fashioned pennant race

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Do you recognize the difference in intensity between “The Yankees have some issues, just like every team in baseball does, but they’re still the WS favorites” versus “Things aren’t looking too good for the Bombers”?

          How are we supposed to read the phrase “Things aren’t looking too good for the Bombers” other than “They’re going to lose the division or be knocked out of the first round”?

          Yes, the Yankees have problems. Even with those problems, things are still looking GOOD for the Yankees right now. They’re tied for first in baseball and just added reinforcements and will add more down the stretch. They’re the most talented team in baseball, 1-25. The fact that we have problems, concerns, and questions does not mean that things aren’t still looking good for us.

          They are.

          • Anthony Murillo

            Geez, I didn’t mean for that comment to get everyone worked up. I mean as of right now, things are looking less than ideal for all the reasons I listed. That’s all, I never said they still aren’t World Series favorites or they’ll lose the division. As of right now, Yankees have some issues (like all teams I know)

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Things aren’t looking too good for the Bombers.

      Other than having the best record in baseball.

      • Anthony Murillo

        I honestly had no idea everyon would react poorly to that comment. I guess I worded it incorrectly, I’m sorry…

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Reading your posts after the original one, you’re not a panicked person or completely ridiculous. But “things aren’t looking too good for the Bombers” was a silly statement, I’m sorry. Not that I haven’t made my share of utterly silly statements (ex., I was going through old Open Threads and I found a comment of mine from early April pre-season and I said “there is no way the Padres are better than the Diamondbacks”).

          • Anthony Murillo

            I worded what I meant to say incorrectly. I just feel like this Yankee team should be better than what they already are (I know, I know we’re tied for first place/best record in basebal). The 2010 Yankees are a great team, no doubt about that, but it would be nice to see those guys turn it around now that we’re entering the final two months of the season.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              None of this is gonna matter when we’re famous singers.

              • Pete

                pussy be fallin out of our pockets. We’ll be saying “oh excuse me that’s mine sorry i dropped it”.

                /eddiemurphy’d

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  YOU GOT YOU GOT YOU GOT WHAT I NEED!

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              I agree with that. Despite being where they are they certainly have room for improvement.

            • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

              Well then, we’re agreed.

        • Steve O.

          You pretty much said:

          ZOMG THE YANK33Z SUCK! A-ROD WILL NEVER HIT 600! JETER SUCKZ! VAZQUEZ IS A CHOK3R AND WILL SUCK IN THE PLAYOFFS!

          Without the all caps and loud noises.

          • Wooderson

            also, jeter and arod are totally gay together

      • http://www.retire21.org Mike R.- Retire 21

        I think this is just an unfortunate way of phrasing that he thinks the Yankees are currently slowing down while The Rays are surging. I’m not saying I agree, but I can understand that perspective.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I can understand that perspective too, since you explained it all out all clearly and perspectively.

          (Yes, I just made up the word “perspectively”.)

  • Pete

    Yeah, not worried. People who think that because of the last week or so the Yanks are doomed are people who would sell one stock after it plummets for four straight days and buy another atop a 10 day spike. The Rays have won 9 of their last 10, the Yanks have lost three of their last four. And they’re now tied. That says something.

  • Shaun

    Actually it really does matter who wins the AL East. In the entire MLB there are only two teams that hold more than a slight chance in knocking the Yankees out of the post, the Rangers and the Rays.

    If the Yankees win the division they would play the White Sox (if they win their division of course)and either the Rangers or Rays.

    That sounds a whole lot more tolerable than playing a draining series against the Rangers (a series that more than likely will take at least 6 games) and then turning right around and playing another draining series against the Rays (that will also take at least 6 games).

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      In the entire MLB there are only two teams that hold more than a slight chance in knocking the Yankees out of the post, the Rangers and the Rays.

      In the postseason pretty much everything can happen, to be honest. I definitely agree the Rangers and Rays have a better chance of knocking off the Yankees than the White Sox, Twins, or any NL team, but really. Saying stuff like this is just setting yourself up for disappointment, IMO. /Debbie Downer’d

      And we can’t play a 6-game series in the first round ;)

      • Ross in Jersey

        Agreed, Bex. Anything can happen in a 5 game series. Any team that gets hot pitching can knock out a far superior club.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Yep. It’s not even pitching necessarily, just luck falling your way and stuff.

  • Ross in Jersey

    Youkilis to the DL, Lowell called up. Not having Youk for the Yankees series is killer. No excuse not to take at least 3/4 from them now. Half the team is a bunch of AAAA players.

    • iYankee(next generation from Apple)

      I was hoping for 7 straight but last night killed that. So I see no reason for this team to take the next two from Toronto and then sweep the Sox.

    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

      I have two excuses:

      1) Jon Lester
      2) Clay Buchholz

      • iYankee(next generation from Apple)

        I have three apologies:

        1) ARod – #601, #602
        2) Tex, Cano, Berkman(going yard)
        3) Mo, Mo, Mo, Mo

        • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

          Well I’m not saying the Yankees can’t take 3 of 4 (or sweep) Boston. I’m just saying I wouldn’t pencil it in just yet.

      • Ross in Jersey

        Lester is the swing game to me. Could go either way, but if Boston takes one game that’s probably it.

        I don’t buy Buchholz as an excuse. The Yankees always seem to hit him well.

        In his career against NYY:

        20.2 IP, 27 hits, 16 runs (6.53 ERA) 3 home runs, 14 walks, 9 strikeouts. 0.64 K/BB ratio, his worst against any opponent by far.

        Yankee hitters are hitting .333/.427/.519 against him.

  • iYankee(next generation from Apple)

    I have to say, in all the reading I have done on this blog, I at no time have been prouder (in the sense of saying FU) of Bexarama and TSJC than I am now…

    Bret, just stay behind the woodshed for a little longer until the pain goes away.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      I can’t tell if you’re insulting me or praising me here? o_O

      • iYankee(next generation from Apple)

        No no… it is praise. The part in parenthesis is said in the manner one would say to a Sox fan right after watching ARod take PapelCHOKE deep.

  • Poopy Pants

    Why would anyone care so much what another person writes on a messageboard?

    Do stockholders of ‘The Yankees Corporation’ consult this site and sell their stock b/c someone with a snarky hipster screen name says ‘the wild card isn’t good enough for 200 million dollars’?

    Besides keeping the entire season in perspective, I think we also need to keep ‘life’ in perspective and realize nothing we do on this site is important. We have no effect on any outcomes re: the Yankees. We’re mostly just a bunch of armchair managers/GM’s trying to passive aggressively make other people feel inferior while watching pampered millionaires throw and hit balls when the said millionaires couldn’t care less about the fans.

    I’m willing to guess most of what people type here are heavily related to their own neuroses and superstitions anyway.

    Players aren’t logging on to this site during the game and having their feeling hurt b/c someone didn’t like a pop up.

    In another thread, someone brought up the idea of looking up people’s IP addresses to see how some people vote in the confidence thread each week, as if the poll is very important, impacts real life and needs to have strict integrity. That’s insanity.

    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

      I’m sorry, I don’t know who or what this is addressed to, but I do find this hilarious:

      b/c someone with a snarky hipster screen name

      ..from someone with the name “Poopy Pants.” Carry on.

  • bonestock94

    Are the 2010 Rangers with Lee scarier than the 2009 Phillies with Lee? I understand the narrower margin of error in a 5 game vs 7 game series, but I’m just not that scared of the Rangers.

  • http://lohud sandy g

    if the yankees do not make the playoffs this year i see a different gm,manager,and a lot of off season trades and free agent signings. i believe the yankees will absoulty sign cliff lee. other free agents of intrest to the yankees are carl crawford/david dejesus.the yankees have to start rebuilding the yankees not retooling the yankees. the core 4 that are left has an average age of 38.jeter,pettitte,posada,and rivera have maybe 1 or 2 years left.they have no replacement for jeter,posada can not catch every day,maybe twice a week.no replacement for rivera the most valuable yankee the last 10 years without question.i will always trade a prospect for a proven player every time.what prospect in the last ten years that the yankees traded has ever amounted to anything.the jury is still out on austin jackson.this off season the yankees can not stand pact.

  • http://lohud sandy g

    if the yankees do not make the playoffs this year ,i see a lot of changes being made.

  • The Ghost of Phil Rizzuto

    but what would August and September be without a thrilling pennant race between two good teams and a third that just won’t go away?

    But it isn’t a real pennant race is it? As you pointed out, the second place team will undoubtedly be the wild card so it’s all really Kabuki theater. If it was an actual, pre-Seligula pennant winner take all loser go home pennant race then Joe Girardi wouldn’t have had Ramiro Pena in the lineup and Lance Berkman at 1B in a series-deciding game against their closest competition (well, OK, Girardi being Girardi maybe he would have). Let’s face it, if the Yankees and Rays went down to the final weekend separated by 1 or 2 games neither team would regard that series as crucial. I’m sure they would place more emphasis on positioning their pitching rotation for the playoffs and resting guys with nagging injuries than on, you know, winning the games.

    I despise the wild card because it completely eliminates the possibility of real pennant races between superior teams. The only actual pennant races that can take place are between mediocre teams in weak divisions. And yes, I do think less of wild-card WS champions because they should not have been competing in the postseason in the first place, irrespective of their record.

    What made baseball special was the pennant race and the brief post-season between deserving teams that won out over up to 9 other teams during the course of the regular season. This idiotic 3-division set up guarantees that non-deserving teams (either wild cards or winners of weak divisions) will have a chance to get hot at the right time or take advantage of short series effects to win a championship.

    So yes, I do want the Yankees to win the division and not advance by coming in second. I’m not panicking but I’m not happy with what I’m seeing right now and I’m not impressed by the trade-deadline acquisitions of three retreads (two from the AAAA league).

  • Jeremy

    “I despise the wild card because it completely eliminates the possibility of real pennant races between superior teams.”

    If there was no Wild Card, teams like the Nationals would stop caring if they were say 10 games out with 8 games left to be played because there is 0 chance to make the playoffs then. While they could be ten games out of the division and have no chance to make the playoffs without the Wild Card, but with it if you are ten out of the division but are in first in the Wild Card, you wouldn’t stop caring. The Wild Card keeps pennant races exciting because it gives teams hope, while otherwise there would be none.

    • The Ghost of Phil Rizzuto

      If there was no Wild Card, teams like the Nationals would stop caring

      This is a truly idiotic argument. The Nationals are not in contention for the Wild Card anymore than the Orioles are. They don’t have to delude themselves that they are in order to “care” about their performance. I doubt any professional athlete stops caring about their performance or stops trying because they have little or no chance to advance to the postseason – very few guys who have such an attitude would even make it to the major leagues. Their focus should rightly be on player development which takes time and may entail some losing seasons but will pay dividends when they are ready to really compete for a division title.

      I would argue that the existence of the Wild Card has a detrimental effect on teams like the Nationals who may make bad acquisitions, fail to move players who could help actual contenders (like Adam Dunn) in exchange for prospects or younger players who can help them when they are ready to contend or block the development of younger players while worthless “veterans” on the down slope of their careers get the playing time.

      To the Nats credit they have not followed your ridiculous advice otherwise they would not have had the sense to trade guys like Capps and Guzman or shut down Steven Strasburg which no team “hoping” for a miracle would do. Now if they only had the sense to trade Adam Dunn ….

      There is not justification for the Wild Card except to milk more TV $$$$ out of the networks. It’s a stain on the integrity of the regular season competition.