Sep
04

Yankees’ fate is in their own hands

By

As of this morning, Baseball Prospectus lists the Yankees odds of making the postseason at 10.5%. Cool Standings is slightly more optimistic at 16.4%. Obviously, neither of these sites spark very much confidence. And yet, it feels like the postseason isn’t just doable, but realistic if the Yankees play some quality baseball for the remainder of the month. Right?

Maybe it’s just that we’re accustomed to big moments in New York, or desperate for another playoff berth. Or, perhaps, as fans, we’re just not quite ready to concede until the postseason is no longer mathematically feasible. After all, these are the Yankees. When I speak with my father, he’s very matter-of-fact about it. He reminds me that the Yanks are only 2.5 games out with 24 to play. One legitimate hot streak, or one slump by a divisional rival, gets it done. I think there’s something to be said for his sentiments too.

Regardless of the odds or one’s blind faith in incredible outcomes, the fact still remains, New York needs to win games in a big way and they’ll probably need some help from their competition as well. Let’s take a look at how the final eight series are scheduled to play out for each team that could potentially grab that second sacred Wild Card spot.

schedgraphic

The Rangers and Athletics are in an extremely tight race. One of the teams will get in no matter what. The other will still have a very good opportunity to participate in October baseball. Unfortunately for the Yankees, both the Rangers and the A’s have fairly favorable schedules remaining too. Aside from the six games remaining against each other, each of these two clubs have plenty of games left against sub .500 teams (though the Angels have been hot of late and could potentially dampen the mood). Still, if I were a betting man, I’d figure both these teams will be enjoying October baseball.

Frankly, I just don’t envision the Royals or the Indians getting the job done. While both teams are definitely in the playoff hunt, I’d be surprised if it worked out favorably for either of them. Aside from the six games against the Indians remaining, the Royals also have to deal with the Rangers and Tigers. The Indians have a very convenient schedule remaining but haven’t been playing particular well of late (they’ve lost 16 of their last 27 games). Meanwhile, the Tigers will conclude their regular season against a lot of mediocre teams, not to mention the fact that they definitely do have a playoff caliber roster that’s been playing well. You also have to figure Miguel Cabrera will be healthy enough to contribute at his typical pace by the time it counts.

So that leaves the gauntlet that is the American League East. As was expected from moment one, it looks as though the division could come down to the wire. The Rays, Orioles, and Yankees are all fighting desperately for that last gasp of air. Seventeen of the final 24 games for the Yankees are against divisional rivals. Their fate (while statistically improbable) is still absolutely within their own hands. Of course, the same could be said for their competition. Hell, even though the Sox have a nice healthy lead on the division, 19 of their final 22 games are against divisional rivals (not to mention the two remaining against a formidable Tigers squad).

Needless to say, the road to the playoffs won’t be easy (or even necessarily pretty) for any of the teams involved. I don’t know how this all is going to end. Probability keeps our heads in check and our hopes from getting too lofty, but as we all know, the games aren’t played on paper.  I, for one, am preparing for an exciting September.

Categories : Musings

39 Comments»

  1. ruralbob says:

    “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

  2. jjyank says:

    Regardless of what happens, I just want to say this:

    I’m damn proud of this team.

    • hogsmog says:

      *SNIFF*

      In all seriousness, me too. Around July it was looking like this was a nightmare season we’d all try to forget. Not anymore. Even if they drop out of the race, anything short of a total collapse is enough to leave a good taste in my mouth, and maybe even for a coach of the year award for Girardi.

    • OldYanksFan says:

      ABSOLUTELY!
      Considering the lineup that played for almost three quarters of the season, I would have thought .500 was pretty good. Based on talent on the field, this team has greatly overachieved.

    • JGYank says:

      Proud of the team, not the front office. Wells, Overbay and Soriano. Soriano has been great but those were the only additions they got that actually contributed during an injury crisis. And Ichiro was slated to start. Took almost 5 months to get an Overbay platoon partner. Call ups did little. I know trade asking prices might have been too high, but if you’re going for it you to get more than Soriano and Reynolds.

    • dkidd says:

      i’ll admit i gave them up for dead. not proud of myself, but very proud of my team

  3. mitch says:

    It’s all about that 11 games stretch vs BOS and BAL. If they can get through that without losing any ground, i think they’ll have a pretty good shot.

    • I'm One says:

      If they can take 7 or 8 of thos 11 and 2 of 3 against the Rays, especially if they beat up on the Jays, Giants & Astros, they should be in. It’s a tall order, but achieveable. We’ll begin to see over the next few days.

  4. JLC 776 says:

    The whole team needs to become Mo right now. Forget about yesterday, just win each damn day.

    Spirit of Duncan.

  5. trr says:

    Truth is, almost everyone would’ve signed up for the current scenario back on April 1st. I’m just gonna sit back and enjoy meaningful Sept games. I know it’s an uphill battle, but those are the most enjoyable to win!

  6. Your Own Personal Jeter says:

    I’m growing more and more convinced that the algorithms that calculate playoff % are heavily reliant on run differential.

    • Incase you’re interested, here’s how BP calculates their odds.

      http://www.baseballprospectus......egory=true

      • Should have posted this one too. Here’s coolstandings.

        http://www.coolstandings.com/welcome.asp

      • nsalem says:

        In other words the Yankee’s have 74 wins now. BP projects them to win 85.5 game. So that means they project them to only win 11.5 and play under .500 for the rest of the season? Is this based on what was projected in April or the aggregate performance of the ream all year or the team they are fielding now. Based on their recent performance with their full squad 17-8 which is .680 ball, I cant figure out how they could be projected to play under .500 in their remaining 24 games.

        • Professor Longnose says:

          I think they are underrating the Yankees because their run differential is worse than those of all their division rivals. If you change from Smart mode to Dumb mode in Coolstandings it will consider each game as a 50-50 proposition, and the Yankees’ chances increase to 23.7%.

          So really, the Yankess’ best hope lie on the current team being significantly better than the team’s been all year. Most of the time, hopes like that are wishful thinking, but in this case the lineup us so different, and so much better, that it might be true. Of course, the pitching probably isn’t as good as it was when it was at its hottest, so…

    • nsalem says:

      Which would mean that they are useless, because the team we have playing now is basically not the team that created the Yankee’s mediocre run differential. That could be said about any team. In the case of the Yankee’s though the difference in our team now from even 5 weeks ago is dramatic.

      • Professor Longnose says:

        They’re not that useful at their best as predictions. But they’re interesting as snapshots of the current state of things.

        The Yankees’ hitting is now worlds different than it was in June and July, but then the pitching isn’t as hot, either. A lot rides on the rotation shaking off its collective slump.

  7. nsalem says:

    Does anyone know how these odds are derived. 1) Is it the odds of any team throughout the modern era that is 3 games out in the loss column with 24 games left of making the playoffs? or 2) Is it adjusted for everyone’s SOS and does it take into account for the current roster composition? I would be quite certain the odds of a Yankee team in this position with the roster they had on July 15th would be significantly lower than the odds that our current roster has now. If say the Rays lost David Price for the season or the O’s lost Chris Davis would that change the odds? If they are using a system based on history, without anything factored in, I think it has little relevance to what is happening now.

  8. Kenny says:

    For me, since the lineup began again resembling a top-line MLB squad, it’s been an oh what might have been time. And last night’s game may have been the best example of what might have been. Without that injury curse, the Ys might be where the Sox are now.

    But post-season looks like a real long shot, right now anyway, because CC and Kuroda just don’t inspire confidence. Hard to see the Ys getting through that Rays-Sox gauntlet with the way those two guys have been pitching. A lot of good pitchers in Tampa (and their lineup ain’t a gathering of patsies any more). Lots of good hitters in Soxville.

    Hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.

  9. dkidd says:

    the indians’ schedule scares me. we should all be rooting for the o’s tonight

  10. LarryM Fl says:

    I have to agree that Oakland has the best schedule to achieve the WC berth. As far as the Yanks are concerned the rotation is looking a little tired with CC, Kuroda and Hughes/Huff. How long will Andy’s second wind holdup. But play one game at a time with no marathon games to strip the bullpen,$hit happens.

    I’m quite happy with the play of this team. They hung in there through all the injuries and BS. I hope there is gas in the tank to complete the journey.

    • nsalem says:

      Since Oakland has the best schedule and they are only 1 game out it seems they would have a better chance than Texas of winning the division.

  11. OldYanksFan says:

    It’s heartbreaking to think that if CC and Hiroki had just pitched decently over the last 4 weeks, we would probably be the 2nd WC right now.

    • 461deep says:

      Wow, looking at that graph gives one a clear idea of what a battle this last month will be.
      Yes CC, Hiroki & Phil hurt Yanks but all other teams had similar problems. Sox could get a big boost towards playing at least .500 ball if Clay returns in May form. Don’t see any team making a spactacular run or tank. Could happen though.
      Rays key for Yankee efforts as they have a nice 3 game lead on them in loss column so would need to play that down to lose WC.
      Take a moderate tanking for TEX-OAK to miss playoffs.

  12. FLYER7 says:

    Seeing as Girardi PH hit Romine for Stewie last night does the kid FINALLY get a start tonight?

  13. Just in case you missed it, the Germans did not bomb
    Pearl Harbor (and W did not get OBL). And
    Baseball Prospectus thinks Gore won in 2000.

  14. Hearn says:

    No crying over spilt milk. “If this, if that, woulda coulda shoulda”.

    Whats past, is past. The path to the playoffs lays clearly in front of this team. It is there for the taking and with their pedigree, I expect them to run the gauntlet.

    I look forward to beating the Red Sox in the ALCS.

    “We play today, we win today. Dats it”

  15. Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

    I think our biggest issue is the tough schedule.

    I have nothing else to say, but more than anything else I think that’s why it’ll be really, really difficult for us to make it in.

    Also, frankly, if we DO beat the odds dramatically and make it in losing that one game playoff will suck donkey balls.

  16. Chris says:

    Was running this in my head last night:

    CWS- 1-0
    Sox- 3-1
    O’s- 2-2
    Sox- 2-1
    Jays-2-1
    Giants- 3-0
    Rays-2-1
    Stros-3-0

    At 18-6, there is a bit of realism in there as well as wishful thinking. Including Chicago you are talking about three sweeps, which is tough to ask for. I can’t see them sweeping TB although that would be nice, Taking 3 of four against the Red Sox is also going out there a bit. Other than that the rest seems doable. Will 92 wins get them in? Hopefully so.

  17. Frank says:

    Despite the nice run, I don’t see this team maintaining the momentum when CC and Kiroda can’t give them even reasonably good starts. 5-6 innings and an ERA north of 5 per start won’t cut it. Throw in a questionable 5th starter in Huff, and it becomes even tougher. Yanks have 7 games with RS, 4 in Baltimore and 3 vs. TB. Seven at home and seven on the road. I believe, at minimum, they have to win 10 of those 14 games. I don’t see it happening.

  18. lightSABR says:

    I have to say, last night’s victory is what did it for me. I’m not going to predict that they’ll make the playoffs–the schedule’s too daunting–but for the first time in weeks I believe it’s possible.

    In other words, the damn Yankees have my hopes up again. So, here’s hoping!

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