Yankees Editorial: The 2015 Yankees are Better than the 2014 Yankees


The Yankees improved their record t0 13-8 with a win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night, which gives them a 1.5 game lead for first place in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox (11-9) . Interestingly enough, after 21  games last year the Yankees record was … one game worse, 12-9. However, digging deeper into the underlying numbers shows that the 2015 team is better. The 2015 team has scored 107 runs and allowed 82 for a run differential of +25 while the 2014 team gave up 92 runs while only scoring 85 for a run differential of -7. The run differential is a better indicator of a team’s true abilities at this early point in the season and shows that the 2015 team has a better chance to maintain this early season success.

The 2014 team ended up going 84-78 and finishing second in the AL East. However, their run differential was -31. The 2014 team happened to hit on some positive variance (sequencing of offensive and defensive events, distribution of runs scored and runs allowed) that allowed it to outperform the underlying numbers. Under normal sequencing and distribution they would have finished a few games under .500, not 3 games over it.

The 2015 team, on the other hand, has underlying numbers which align better with the 13-8 record, portending well for the rest of the season. The projection systems are capturing this, too. The Yankees have greatly improved their 2015 chances with their 13-8 start according to Fangraphs. They are projected to go 73-69 the rest of the season and finish at 85-77, just behind the Red Sox projected record of 87-75 but good enough for a Wild Card spot. That projected record might seem disheartening considering they finished 84-78 last year. However, the 2015 team could be a true 85 win team with a chance to win just under 90 with some luck. The 2014 team was a mediocre team that finished above average. The 2015 team is legitimately above average with a chance to be great. The bell curve of potential outcomes has shifted to the right from 2014 to 2015.

The true talent level on the 2015 version of the Yankees is undoubtedly better than 2014’s edition. The question is how much that will actually reflect in the standings.

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