Monday, September 24, 2012

Are They Lucky Or Good?

Last night the Oakland Athletics ended the Yankees winning streak that start last Saturday, and lasted 7 games. It was great to see the team win that many games, especially since the Orioles went 6-2 since last Saturday. But the margin of victory has bothered me.

And when something bothers me I go to my happy place.

I already covered the use of Rafael Soriano, which pretty much directly relates to that issue of margin of victory. And I use the term "issue", because that's what it is. In those 7 wins the team's average margin of victory was 1.71, which makes it hard for me to be overly happy about the team. So the question now is... was the team lucky?

Well, let's take a look at the numbers and see...

Since September 15th Yankee pitchers have an ERA of 3.58, which would be good for 3rd in the American League so far this season. So it's not something that's way over the heads of MLB pitching staffs, meaning it's something that can be kept up. Furthermore, the team ERA for the entire season is 3.88, so even if the team regresses I don't think it will be too far.

I took a look at other team pitching stats, including a team WHIP of 1.14 since last Saturday, which would be 1st in the AL up to this point of the season, and not very far from the team WHIP on the season of 1.27. So again... fairly sustainable.

Over the past 8 games the team K/9 is 10.22, which is well above the yearly number of 8.26 on the year, and would be well in 1st place in the American League. So I don't expect to see the team strikeout as many hitters... not that the team isn't good at it anyway. And I don't see a regression hurting the team, as long as they don't walk as many batters as they have recently.

Thankfully, Cameron has been going to a lot of Yankee games lately.

Yankee pitchers have walked 3.33 hitters every 9 innings, which isn't good. In fact, it would be 13th in the AL. The team has been pretty good in this department on the year (8.26 BB/9 in 2012), so hopefully they don't give away so many free passes, which would make up for that high strikeout rate coming down.

So in all, I don't think the Yankee pitchers have been lucky. I think what they did during the past 8 games is something they can continue to do. So how about the hitting?

The team's batting average since the win against the Rays last Saturday has been .245, which would be 11th in the American League over the course of the season. Over the last week one of the five Yankee batters to hit .280 or higher is Jayson Nix, who only played in three of the Yankees' six games. A second player on that list is Raul Ibanez, who in my opinion shouldn't start another game for the rest of the season. Nick Swisher has hit .333 over that time, and I doubt he keeps up that type of pace for the rest of the regular season. Oh, and Ichiro has hit .700 during that time, which is just a bit higher that one should expect for here on out. The 5th player on that list is Alex Rodriguez, who hit .280, and should be able to keep that going.

Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano are slumping lately, batting .261 and .222 respectively over the last week. If they can get it going again, ARod can continue to get hits as often, then they should be okay.

The team's on-base percentage since the 14th is .344, which is only a bit above their team OBP on the year of .333, so nothing crazy there at all. In fact, Ichiro and Swisher have been getting on base more often than normal, with marks of .727 and .462. But the rest of the Yankee regulars are getting on-base less often than normal, which tells me everything will be good in this department.

I'm sorry to doubt you Mr. Suzuki.

A big concern of mine is the team's slugging percentage over the past 8 games of .398, which would be 11th in the league if they'd done that all season long. Seeing that the team has slugged .447 in 2012, I know they can do better. Suzuki may not slug 1.150, Swisher won't slug .476, and Martin probably won't have that .471 mark, like they have the past week, but all other regulars are hitting below their heads. Which is yet another reason to feel good coming into the home stretch of the season.

So in all I'd say the pitching has not been lucky, they can simply be that good. While the hitting has actually been worse than what this team can do. That tells me the team can certainly win the vast majority of their remaining games, especially against teams that are a combined 59.5 games out of 1st place. And since Baltimore refuses to go away, every game from now until October 3rd will matter.

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