The Yankees have played 32 games this season. Here are some thoughts on the season thus far:
– So far, I’d say the Yankees are overachieving. They are on pace for 96 wins. If the season ended today, they would be in the playoffs as one of the two Wild Card teams. This is pretty amazing, considering that their current lineup consists of Lyle Overbay, Chris Stewart, Jayson Nix, and Chris Nelson. They also started 1-4, which means they are 18-9 over their last 27 games.
A lot of their early season success has to do with the pitching. The team’s 3.76 ERA is fifth in the league. Only one team, the Twins, have walked fewer men.
A lot has to do with luck. The Yankees have only scored nine more runs than their opponents, so you would expect them to only be one or two games above .500 instead of six. They are also 6-1 in one-run games – even the best of teams can’t sustain that rate.
– Part of the reason the Yankees have played so well in one-run games is Mariano Rivera. What else did you expect? Rivera is 43 years old and pitching as well as ever:
Rivera, 2013: 2.03 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 206 ERA+, 6.00 K/BB
Rivera, career: 2.21 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 206 ERA+, 4.05 K/BB
He is a perfect 12-for-12 in save chances too. It’s the same as it ever was.
– The offense is hitting .254/.322/.420, which is right around the league average. The Yankees haven’t hit as low as .254 in a season since 1990, when they lost 95 games. The team slash line will probably improve once the weather gets warmer – and when Granderson, Teixeira, Jeter, and A-Rod return.
– How about Hiroki Kuroda? His first two starts were terrible, but he has been one of the best pitchers in the league since then. In his last five starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.49 ERA. The league is hitting just .192 against him. Kuroda has been one of the best signings of the last five years – and you could argue that he’s been the Yankees’ best pitcher since the start of last season.
Kuroda, 2012-now: 40 starts, 20-13, 262.2 innings 3.15 ERA, 1.150 WHIP
Sabathia, 2012-now: 35 starts, 19-9, 249 innings, 3.36 ERA, 1.165 WHIP
– The team leader in OPS is Travis Hafner, who is back to his old, mashing self. Pronk is hitting .284/.408/.568 with 6 home runs in 81 at bats. Vernon Wells is also off to a good start, though he has been slumping of late. After last night’s home run, he is hitting .287/.341/.504, and is second on the team with 7 home runs. With the team’s injury woes, they have needed Hafner and Wells to step up – and so far, both of them have exceeded expectations.
– The biggest change in baseball over the last decade has been the rise in strikeouts. Strikeouts have increased each of the last seven years, and teams are on pace to set an all time mark in 2013. The Yankees are no exception – the pitching is striking out 8.1 per 9 innings, which would be their second-highest clip of all time. The offense, meanwhile, is striking out at a 20% rate, which would be the team’s fifth highest of all time.
– Finally, the Yankees return to Kansas City later this week. The Yankees haven’t played in Kansas City since last May, when Mariano Rivera tore his ACL during batting practice. Let’s hope this series ends better than that one.