The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Monday, July 02, 2007

 

Sobering Numbers

Yankees' overall record to date:
37-41 (.474 winning percentage)

Record without their early June 14-3 hot streak:
23-38 (.377)

Record vs. AL East opponents:
8-17 (.320)

Record needed to match the Red Sox's 99-win pace:
62-22 (.738)

Record needed to win 95 games, the same number as the last two AL Wild Cards:
58-26 (.690)

Number of times in baseball history that a team has won at least 58 of final 84 games:
56

Number of times that has happened since 1900:
35

Number of times that has happened since expansion era began in 1961:
14

Number of times that has happened since three-division play began in 1994:
6

Last Yankee team to accomplish this feat:
1961

Last team to win World Series after accomplishing this feat:
1979 Pirates

• • •

Weekend travels prevented me from my usual lengthy Prospectus Hit List. Instead I put together another Hit List Remix article examining various trends across leagues and divisions and versus last year's performance and the 2007 PECOTA forecasts:
If you had the Dodgers as the team furthest ahead of this year's projections, raise your hand. Bueller? Anyone? Not even this Dodger fan -- hopeful but faithless, or perhaps the other way around -- could have foreseen that, particularly in a season where Nomar Garciaparra and Rafael Furcal have combined for just two home runs (down from last year's 35), where Juan Pierre has been even more fetid than expected, and where Jason Schmidt made almost no positive contribution before winding up on the operating table. On the other hand, the emergence of Russell Martin as possibly the league's best catcher, and PECOTA-whooping first halves from Brad Penny, Randy Wolf, Takashi Saito, and Luis Gonzalez have helped make up much of that ground. A 17-8 record [in one-run games] founded on the league's second-best bullpen [they're now third] hasn't hurt either. It will be interesting to see whether the Dodgers can sustain this level of play in the wake of their shifting Garciaparra to third to accommodate Loney, and Chad Billingsley into the rotation to cover for Schmidt.

The Dodgers are hardly the only team that's surprising by this measure; the Tigers have outpaced PECOTA even with a bullpen that's crumbling before Jim Leyland's eyes, and three quarters of the AL West is significantly ahead of their projections. As are the Red Sox, even if they seem to have more disappointments (Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp, J.D. Drew, Manny Ramirez) than surprises (Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell). Worth noting: Daisuke Matsuzaka is three ERA points off his weighted mean projections. Bow to the deadly accurate PECOTA!
Marc Normandin will take this week's Hit List, as I'll be headed to Wyoming for my brother's wedding. I'll be back in my usual format there on July 13, but I won't be off the grid completely.

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