Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Quest for 28

The Yankees are currently 84-50, an amazing feat of 34 games over .500. Although the season has not seemed as exciting as last season, the numbers prove it has, this time last season the Yankees were 86-48, just 2 games better then this year’s edition of baseballs most dynastic club. What’s so different this season? For one, the Yankees don’t have a 7.5 game lead over Boston; it’s a 1 game lead over the young but scrappy Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have proven to be contenders, 2 out of the last 3 seasons they have been banging on the door waiting for their moment. The tightness of the East will surely make the final stretch nothing but enjoyable and possibly hair pulling. What else is different? The Yankees haven’t had to rely on late inning heroics to get the job done. They have walked off a handful of times this season, but it became a weekly habit last summer, and in some cases a back-to-back habit.

The Yankees as a team currently rank 6th in baseball with a .270 team batting average but are 1st in on base percentage at .351. The Yankees have also shown that they can dish the long ball, coming in 3rd at 168 homers (behind the Sox and Jays) and have had the most RBI as a team at 690 runs batted in. Robinson Cano has also put together a stellar season. Alex Rodriguez has missed some time and Cano has excelled. Don’t ya know, Robbie Cano is leading the Yankees in average-.323, slugging-.558, doubles-36…oh and he’s only 3 points behind Gardner for OBP lead at .386(among regular starters). The Yankees of course are getting help from newcomer Curtis Granderson and regulars such as Jeter, Tex, Swisher and Rodriguez.

CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes lead the boys on the mound with 18 and 16 wins respectively as well as strikeouts with 160 and 123. Andy Pettitte leads the starting staff with a 2.88 ERA and fewest walks at 38 (Pettitte is currently on the DL). AJ Burnett and Javy Vazquez are the odd men out as they have seemingly lost their success from last year. Javy leads the team giving up 27 homers thus far and AJ is right behind him at 20. They have also been the pitchers allowing the most earned runs at a combined total of 165.

Right now with the way the Yankees have been playing, they can take the East. However, we have to look ahead to the post season as well. CC and Phil have been the only reliable pitchers, while Javy and Burnett have been problematic. Last season we went into the postseason with a 3 man rotation and displayed dominance, the question is, can it be done again? CC is certainly a lock for Number 1 starter but who will be the final 2? I would hope Phil gets rewarded for his amazing season so far, but the innings limit could prevent him from making starts. AJ has been rocky all season and unless he finds himself in the last month, it would very difficult to imagine him working through “the motions” or whatever they want to call it in the playoffs, in such a high stress environment. Will Pettitte be ready? There’s certainly a lot to watch play out these final weeks.