The Yankees have the best record in baseball, now by two games over the Rangers after yesterday’s rain-shortened 6-0 whitewash to complete a sweep of the Jays. They are 9-2 since I left for the west, a stretch in which they have combined good, consistent hitting with good pitching as well, a deadly combination. They have scored 3 or more runs in 42 consecutive games (a streak they extended last night in the first inning). And yet my own comment at the end of yesterday’s blog sticks with me: I can’t think of a single Yankee having a good year by his own standards. I thought I would explore that a little.
First, as a team there is no indication that they are underperforming. A team that scored 449 runs and allows 369 would be expected to have a .597 winning percentage by the Pythagorean formula, and the Yankees have a .622. This variation is very slight (they “should” be 54-37, they are actually 57-34) but this is, if anything, overperformance.
My metrics work, too, if you understand them: they have an A+ offense, a C rotation and a C+ bullpen. Since the metrics were designed to say what would this offense do with an average rotation and an average bullpen, the answer would be A+, which is exactly the record the Yankees have. In short, this consistently excellent offense is carrying the pitching, but they are not under or over performaing, really, to the level of accuracy of the numbers.
Yet consider the following: here is the Yankee’s “regular” lineup for most of the season, with current OPS and career OPS:
|Position||Player||2012 OPS||2011 OPS||Career OPS|
So the ONLY Yankees above their career numbers are Cano and Granderson, and Granderson is DOWN from last year. For clarity, the numbers for last year for LF and DH are for Gardner and Posada, not the players listed.
Compared to last year, Martin, Teixeira, A-Rod, Granderson and Swisher are down, with Cano and Jeter up (Jeter slightly) and improvements in LF and DH due to roster changes. And even THAT has a caveat, as Gardner was great last year, just not a huge offensive force: his defense gave him a MUCH better WAR than Ibanez/Jones.
The point is that this offense could easily be BETTER – A-Rod and Tex don’t have to hit up to their career (THAT would be scary) but only back to last year. That goes even more for Martin. And if Granderson and Swisher were back to last year, as well, this team would never stop scoring.
Then there’s the pitching. Here is a chart of every Yankee with 30 IP so far this year, along with his ERA, his 2011 ERA or the ERA of the equivalent 2011 Yankee, his career ERA and who the equivalent is, if not the same pitcher.
|Position||Player||2012 ERA||2011 ERA||Career ERA||2011|
Here the water is more muddy – Sabathia is outperforming his career ERA, but not last year, Hughes is just better, Pettitte is worse than career but a HUGE improvement on Burnett, Kuroda is right on career and an improvement on Colon (as well as pitching MORE than Colon could). The bullpen is clearly not up to 2011 standards, though Robertson is now back and pitching well, which helps. Logan is about what he was last year, but has been asked to fill a larger role, more ably performed in 2011.
Overall the pitching seems about what it was, but the dropoff due to injuries (Sabathia, Pettitte, Robertson, Rivera) has been offset by roster improvement (Kuroda, Pettitte). And don’t forget that the Yankees gave up serious value to get Michael Pineda, who is a young stud who didn’t throw a pitch for them. So the INTENDED roster improvement was greater still.
The simple answer, then, to the question posed at the start is a surprising yes. Given this roster, and the age and injuries of the players, plus their history, you would expect the pitching to be about where it is, and the hitting, scarily, to be somewhat better.