The game of baseball is reactionary. Baseball analysis is not.
Most baseball plays last less than a second. The pitcher throws the ball towards home plate and the batter decides whether or not to swing. It’s quick, simple, instinctual, and doesn’t require much thought or reflection.
Baseball analysis is the opposite. In every game both teams combine for somewhere between 200-300 pitches thrown (in a Yankees-Red Sox game the total can approach 9,000), and this happens 162 times a year, every year. That’s a loooong season, my friend. That’s why I try to keep this blog even keeled and not freak out about any one game.
We all have visceral reactions to certain games throughout the season, like when the Red Sox swept the Yankees for the first time…or the second time…or that third time. I hate Boston.
The great thing about baseball is that we can wake up the next day and realize last night’s game didn’t mean a whole lot. We get angry and curse the bullpen, the lack of clutch hitting, whichever goat booted the grounder, and then we get over it. Or we whip the remote through the flat screen. Whatever. We react, and then we reflect.
Football doesn’t allow us the same level of rationality. The NFL season is 17 weeks of constant consequence; every loss could be The One That Cost Us The Playoffs. Every win is The One That Turned The Season Around…until the next loss. We can analyze each game to death because every game matters enough to deserve the scrutiny.
We can’t put every baseball game under the same football microscope. You’ll drive yourself crazy studying every pitch and dissecting every swing. Sometimes A-Rod hits a good pitch out, and sometimes A-Rod whiffs on a hanging breaking ball. That’s baseball.
Now that I’ve said all that, I suppose I should actually include some analysis. The Yankees are at the halfway point in the season, so let’s quickly assess where they are right now. Are we happy with what they’ve done? Can they improve? I’m a glass half full kind of guy, so let’s look at the pros first.
The Yankees have the second best record in the American League and the third best record in all of baseball.
They have scored more runs than any team in the league and have the 4th best run differential, and they’ve manufactured all these runs while missing A-Rod and Posada for a month each.
They have a winning record on the road.
They have the best lineup in baseball, with the possible exception of the Phillies.
The Yankees have four of the top 34 pitchers in the American League (ranked by ERA). I know that doesn’t sound so impressive, but it is. It’s like having two above average 3rd starters for your 3 and 4 starters, which is nice.
They’re 14 games over .500 despite Chien-Ming Wang starting nine of them.
The Padres, Orioles, Nationals, and Indians are the only teams to have allowed more runs than the Yankees.
The Yankees are 2-12 against the Red Sox and Angels, teams New York will almost certainly have to face in October.
The bullpen ain’t great.
The Yankees still don’t have a set up man to get to Mariano.
All those Cons are scary, but the fact is the Yankees have the second best record in the American League and are only three games out of 1st in the East. I’m happy with where the bombers are right now. I’ll start panicking in September.
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