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Perspectives: June 12, 2021

by Paul Semendinger

***

I really don’t know what to think of this Yankees team.

Are they the team we’re seeing right now, a team that over their last four games have put up some solid numbers offensively, or are they the team that failed and failed and failed so often before this?

Over their last four games, the Yankees are averaging 7 runs a game.

Over the four games previous to these, they scored just 3 runs, on average, per game.

The team is, obviously, inconsistent. They look great, then they look horrible, then they look only kind-of bad, and then they look good again. It’s a viscous cycle.

Will the real 2021 Yankees please stand up?

***

My fear is that the real 2021 Yankees have already stood up.

What you see is what you get.

Over their last 162 games, the Yankees are 88-74.

The 2021 Yankees are 33-30. Over 162 games, a team playing at that pace would end up with a record of 85-77.

I think this is what they are.

The 2021 Yankees, just like the 2020 Yankees, are a slightly better than mediocre team. They are not a great team, and they are probably not even a very good team.

Mediocre teams have good stretches and bad stretches. Mediocre teams go through periods when they win a lot of games. They also go through periods where they lose.

This happens because they are mediocre.

This, in a way, in the sports world, is the definition of mediocrity.

***

Some quick stats:

The 2021 Yankees have a winning percentage of .524. Here are three the most recent seasons in Yankees history where the team has had a winning percentage of .524 or worse:

2016 – .519 (84-78)

2014 – .519 (84-78)

1992 – .469 (76-86)

(Yeah, seasons like this don’t happen often for the Yankees.)

I know the immediate reaction of some will be that the 2021 Yankees are better than those teams. I know the talking point, “The 2021 Yankees had that great stretch, they were so good. Those other teams were not this talented…”

I want to just share some data points for comparison between these teams:

2021 Yankees: Most Games Over .500 = 9

2016 Yankees: Most Games Over .500 = 11

2014 Yankees: Most Games Over .500 = 7

1992 Yankees: Most Games Over .500 = 7

Mediocre teams, even bad teams, have good stretches.

Here’s another stat for comparison:

Longest Winning Streak:

2021 Yankees = 6 games

2016 Yankees = 7 games

2014 Yankees = 5 Games

1992 Yankees = 6 Games

Yes, even bad teams have good weeks.

***

I think it’s time to face the reality. The 2021 Yankees are a mediocre team.

There will be times when they amaze us and look almost unbeatable, but those times will be short-lived and the team will revert back to who they are and what they are.

They’re good.

They’re not great.

They perform as a mediocre team should and does.

They perform that way because that’s what they are.

Absolutely.

And that’s a shame.

It’s a crying shame, because we all hoped for so much more.

It’s a crying shame because so many (including us) have been writing about this for years and years. It’s not like we didn’t see this coming.

We did.

It was clear as day.

Abundantly clear.

***

The Yankees have 99 games yet to play in 2021. That’s forever, at least in many senses. Anything can happen.

It could.

Will it?

***

If the Yankees at a .667 pace the rest of the way, winning two out of every three games, they’ll end up with 99 wins. That would get the job done. 99 wins would mean the playoffs and then, anything, really anything, could happen. (Imagine a playoff rotation of Cole, Kluber, and Severino!)

But, if the Yankees play just .600 ball winning three out of every five games, they’ll finish with only 92 wins. That won’t get the job done.

92 wins means an early winter and long cold months of discontent.

The margin in this is pretty small. It’s a seven game swing that would make all the difference.

The difference the rest of the way, is for the Yankees to not just play at a .600 clip. They’ll have to be better than that. Going forward, they really have to basically win two out of every three games.

Can they?

Will they?

I don’t think they can.

I don’t think they will.

***

I also predicated that the Mets would be real good, real soon.

The Mets are in first place.

There might be a new king of New York already.

The question I have asked with that prediction is “Will the Yankees, once they are reduced to New York’s second most popular (and successful) team, finally start investing the way they should have in the on-field product?”

That’s what is yet to be seen.

It was easy for the Yankees to rest on their laurels when the team in Queen was a joke.

They aren’t a joke any longer.

***

What is it to be a fan?

A fan wants his team to win.

A fan wants his team to be exciting.

A fan wants to be entertained.

The Yankees fall short, at least to me, in each of those ways.

The Yankees haven’t been very entertaining, they haven’t been exciting, and they don’t win nearly enough.

The team lacks energy and… dare I say it?…

On most nights the 2021 Yankees aren’t even fun.

***

But there’s one other aspect of being a fan.

Fans complain, bemoan, and get frustrated. Of course.

But fans love their teams.

I love the Yankees.

The Yankees have been part of me since 1977. That’s a long time. I lived the ups and downs with these guys. In many ways, the Yankees are part of who I am.

This makes the winning that must sweeter.

And it makes the losing that much worse.

Because, in a sense, it’s somewhat personal.

When the Yankees lose, part of me loses. That’s what it is to be a fan.

But since they are a part of me, even if they continue down this path of mediocrity, I’ll still love them.

I’ll still root for them.

And I’ll still hope…

There’s always hope.

***

Let’s Go Yankees!

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