Whether you think this 2015 Yankees team underachieved — heck, they had a eight-game lead in the AL East in late July — or overachieved — among the 31 experts from ESPN, SI, CBS Sports and Yahoo! Sports, only one (Buster Olney) picked the Yankees to make the playoffs — there is no doubt that this team had its share of historic and record-breaking statistical performances.
Without further adieu, let’s kick off our season-ending “Yankeemetrics” with a few notable feats from the team (and teammates) perspective. Tomorrow, we’ll tackle some individual player accomplishments.
The Yankees finished with 87 wins, the third straight season they fell short of the 90-win mark. In the previous 17 years combined from 1996-2012, the Yankees had just two sub-90 win campaigns.
Yes, the Yankees still did make the playoffs despite only 87 wins, matching the 2000 club for the fewest wins by a Yankee team that qualified for the postseason. It was their 52nd postseason appearance, by far the most of any franchise in major-league history. In fact, no other team has even made 30 postseason appearances.
Following their three-hour cameo in the postseason party (a.k.a., the Wild Card Game), the Yankees have now lost their last five postseason games. That matches the longest postseason losing streak in franchise history, done most recently in 2006-07.
Although the Yankees’ offense went into a horrible slump down the stretch, it still made huge gains overall compared to last year. The Yankees increased their scoring by 131 runs, their largest full-season year-over-year increase since 1929-30. They also increased their homer total by 65 (!), the biggest increase between full seasons in franchise history.
On the other side of the ledger, their pitching and defense was actually worse than last year. The Yankees allowed 34 more runs than in 2014, their largest year-to-year increase since 2003-04. Their three worst pitchers for the season were probably CC Sabathia (6-10, 4.73), Ivan Nova (6-11, 5.07) and Michael Pineda (12-10, 4.37). The only other season that the Yankees had three pitchers each with double-digit losses and an ERA of at least 4.35 was 1991 — the unforgettable trio of Jeff Johnson, Tim Leary and Wade Taylor.
Another notable theme from 2015 was the influx of young guys, especially on the pitching staff (thanks to the never-ending Scranton Shuttle). For the season, the Yankees had a weighted pitchers’ average age of 27.4 years (per baseball-reference.com), their youngest group of pitchers since 1971. That team featured a rotation with five guys under age 30, headline by 29-year-olds Mel Stottlemyre and Fritz Peterson.
But it was the old guys in the lineup that powered the offense. A-Rod and Mark Teixeira combined to become the third set of teammates to hit at least 30 homers in their age 35 season or older. The others were Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa (2004 Cubs), and Jeromy Burnitz and Vinny Castilla (2004 Rockies).
This Yankees team was unique in that it didn’t have a true superstar — or at least one that played in most of the games. Despite missing nearly one-third of the season, Mark Teixeira still was the team’s leader in Wins Above Replacement (3.8). The only other non-strike season in which the Yankees didn’t have a player with at least 4.0 wins was 1908. Their WAR leader was Charlie Hemphill (3.8) and the team finished 51-103, the second-worst record in franchise history.
Following a general trend in baseball, the Yankees set a couple strikeout records — good and bad:
• their hitters finished with 1,227 strikeouts, 13 more than the franchise mark set in 2013
• their pitchers had 1,370 strikeouts, matching the franchise record established last year
• their relievers struck out a combined 596 batters, the most in a single season by any bullpen in major-league history
• overall, they had a major-league-record seven pitchers with at least 100 strikeouts — Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren and Andrew Miller.
How dominant were Miller and Betances at the back end of the bullpen? The duo became the first pair of relievers on the same team to each finish the season with at least 100 strikeouts and a sub-2.05 ERA. Ever.
And then there’s this: one of the most amazing stats from the season is that the Yankees were 81-0 when leading the game at the start of the ninth inning. That’s the best record in that situation for any Yankee team since at least 1950.