Good day everyone! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this, it is definitely appreciated. So today I was looking at ways for the Yankees to rebound and reach the postseason for the first time since 2012. I gave a cursory glance at the team’s records against the rest of the league. Then I found these troubling statistics mixed in. The Yankees were 10-10 against the Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, and Houston Astros. They were also 14-24 against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles. That would give them a .414 winning percentage against these five teams over 58 games. Being an even .500 against the three worst teams in the American league is not something to be proud of. Just to put things in perspective, the Rangers won 67 games and had a .414 winning percentage this year. Although in a smaller sample size, that .414 winning percentage the Yankees had in the 58 games against these teams has to go up for them to reach the postseason. Especially considering they will face these same 5 teams 58 games again in 2015. I believe it will, and here is why.
Ok so we said the Yankees went 24-34 against two division rivals, and the three worst teams in the American League. That also meant they went 60-44 against all other teams this year, which would give them a .577 winning percentage. Had they been that consistent against each team, they would have been on pace to win 93 games. This year every division winner won at least 45 games at home, and won at least 43 of 76 games played against their division rivals. At the minimum that is a .565 winning percentage against the rest of the division, and a .555 winning clip at home. This year the Yankees did neither and were 4 games out of the Wild Card. That means that if they had just a .482 winning percentage against the five teams mentioned above, they could have been tied with the A’s for the 2nd Wild Card spot.
So the question then becomes, can the Yankees win an extra 5 or so games that would be needed to play in October? Starting with the Rays, I believe they can do better that the 8-11 mark they had against them last year. The Rays no longer have manager Joe Maddon, or front office executive Andrew Friedman. Both were responsible for the Rays emerging as playoff contenders for the past several years. I would argue that since the Rays finished 8 games under .500 with those two men, that they will fare even worse without them in 2015. Their offense is filled with question marks aside from Evan Longoria, and the rotation has lost Price. Price isn’t the only reason this rotation won’t be as effective though. The other key component in the decline of the rotation is Matt Moore’s recovery from Tommy John Surgery.
Aside from the Rays, the O’s did lose Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. Having Manny Machado and Matt Weiters return might help them though. Still even winning a handful of extra games against the Orioles would make a substantial difference. Other than Texas having some players who have a chance to put up decent comeback seasons, this team hasn’t improved very much. Same goes for the Twins. The Astros have a chance though to be better, but the Yankees only play 6 games against them. Worst case scenario is that they end up 4-2 or 5-1 against them, which would mirror the performance put up in 2014.
It is very possible that of those 58 games played against the O’s, Rangers, Twins, Rays, and Astros, that the Yankee can win 5 more. Minus the Astros who look to be on the rise, none of the other teams looks poised to improve. While it is not reasonable to expect the Yankees to just go in cruise control every year straight into the playoffs, the Yankees are better than at least 3 of these teams. If nothing else, the Yankees don’t have to be any better than these teams. They just have to compete and perform more adequately when they play against these opponents. The Yankees won 85 games with Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera, and 84 without them in 2014. Not losing anyone of their caliber this year, it is seems reasonable to say that the Yankees have not gotten any worse. Having their starters appear more frequently in the lineup and with less trips to the DL might be enough to push the Yankees in.