The 2009 New York Yankees wrapped it all up yesterday. AL East title, MLB Best Record, and even managed to tie the season series with Boston after starting out 0-8. Life is good in Yankeeland.
But a word of caution in this time of joy. They also won 100+ games in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and we all know what happened next. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out over the weekend, some of the teams that clinched early have also had early exits from the playoffs in recent years. So as good as this feels, the playoffs are still a crapshoot and will remain so until something is done to reward divisional/League winners and make the path for Wild Card teams more difficult, but I’ll discuss that more later this week.
However, I still think this is the best pitching staff since 2003, when they were 3rd in the league in ERA. They wound up 6th overall in 2009, but that’s a bit misleading this year. The top 3 teams (Seattle/Oakland/ChiSox) all missed the playoffs, and the Tigers and BoSox are within 7/100th of a Run, so it’s statistically insignificant. They are on equal footing with the teams they will be playing in Run prevention, and they once again led all of Baseball in Runs Scored. While other playoff teams have bullpens that are falling apart, the Yankee bullpen improved month by month this year and their back of the bullpen combo of Hughes-Rivera is the best in the game. They set a new team record for Home Runs this year at the new Yankee Stadium, and led all of Baseball in that category in a cakewalk. They also led the League in Strikeouts, and teams that miss bats tend to win in October.
Power pitching, power hitting. That’s a combo that’s tough to beat. Let the playoffs begin.
BTW-Here’s a link to get your John Sterling ‘Yankees Win!’ Ringtone, especially fun if you work in an office full of Red Sox fans :wink: .
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