I still believe the Yankees will win the division, and avoid a one-game playoff with the other Wild Card winner, but I'm not as strong in that belief as I was. So I took a trip over to Fangraphs in order to see if the numbers gave me a clearer picture of things.
Did you know that Fangraphs is located in the middle of a desert?
I wanted to look at things over the last 30 days, because in that time I've been disappointed with the way the team has played. The starting pitching has been good, but the relievers have been less than impressive. The Yankee bullpen, over the last 30 days, rank 5th in WAR, 5th in FIP, and 11th in ERA in the American League. Those rankings may not seem bad, but when you see that the Rays rank 3rd, 1st, and 1st in those same stats then you start to see a problem.
When you look at starting pitching, and add that to what I just said about relief pitching, things get more worrisome. While the Yankees rank 4th in starter's WAR in the AL, the Rays starters rank 2nd. When it comes to starter's FIP the Yanks rank 5th and the Rays 2nd. And in ERA it's Yankees 7th and Rays 1st.
So whether you look at things from a starting standpoint, or a relieving standpoint, the Rays have been better in the last 30 days.
But team hitting is clearly in the Yankees favor.
When you look at each teams hitting WAR, wRC+, and wOBA over the last 30 days the Yankees better in all three. The Bombers have a WAR of 4.6, wRC+ of 111, and wOBA of .339. Not that the Rays offense isn't good though, as their team WAR is 3.8, wRC+ is 98, and wOBA is .310. But the Yankees team hitting is better.
It's when I looked at each team's runs scored and runs against that I started to look like the guy in that last picture (yeah, sorry, that's not actually me). You see, while the Yankees have scored 136 runs over the last 30 days, the Rays have scored 125. And you have to keep in mind that the Rays didn't have Evan Longoria for 9 of those games in said time period. When it comes to run prevention things really separate... the Yankees have given up 123 runs, while the Rays have only given up 64. That all works out to the Yankees having a run differential, over the past 30 days, of +13, while the Rays run differential is +61.
Finally you have to look at the fact the Yankees have lost Mark Teixeira for at least a week (Jeter missed 18 games with a calf strain last season), Alex Rodriguez's return is probably a couple of weeks away, and if it wasn't for Jeter and Swisher having OPSs of 1.078 and 1.168, this team could already be looking up at Tampa Bay in the AL East standings.
Oh, and to top it all off, Steve Pearce is batting clean-up for the Yankees tonight against Cleveland.
Yankee fans felt the same way after seeing tonight's lineup.
So while I still believe the Yankees will win the AL East, they are making it harder and harder to be so optimistic.