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Perspectives: The 2021 Yankees So Far… Is It A Mirage?

by Paul Semendinger

May 16, 2021

***

The Yankees keep winning, it’s great, and I’m thrilled.

The Yankees, even with their horrific start are at 22 -17. This equates to 91 wins over a full season. That’s not great, but they’re getting there.

Even better, since April 22, the Yankees are 16-6. That rate of play over a full season would net a team 117 wins. Yeah, the Yankees are doing great:

They took three of four against Cleveland (April 22-25)

They split four games with Baltimore (April 26-29)

They swept a three-game series against Detroit (April 30-May 2)

They took two of three vs. Houston (May 4-6)

They took two of three vs. Washington (May 7-9)

They took two of three vs Tampa Bay (May 11-13)

They have won the first two games against Baltimore (May 14-15)

That makes the Yankees 6-1 over their last seven series.

This is how teams win. This is the formula. Win two out of every three games and win each series.

This is amazing.

DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT ONLY FIVE TEAMS IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE HAVE A BETTER RECORD THAN THE YANKEES!

This is how to do it.

This is how to win a pennant.

This is amazing.

***

But still…

It seems like somewhat of a mirage.

I see the Yankees winning games.

I am happy they are winning games, but I don’t quite understand how they’re winning most of the games.

The team just doesn’t hit. Absent of last night, they cannot score many runs.

I know the response is that hitting is down across baseball, but even with those depressed numbers, the Yankees sit at the bottom of all of baseball is many offensive categories. For example:

Batting Average – .223, 6th worst in all of baseball

Slugging – .380, 11th worst in baseball

Runs Scored – 156, 9th worst in baseball

Hits – 284 (tie), 7th worst in all of baseball…

I could go on. The Yankees are hitting like a bottom third team. It’s been that way all season.

They have scored in double figures (10 runs) just once. (April 30, against Detroit).

This is unsustainable. A team cannot win a pennant with numbers like that. Or, at least they shouldn’t be able to.

The Yankees are winning because their pitching has been other-worldly. Absolutely other-worldly. The Yankees pitchers, basically from top to bottom (ok, absent Jameson Taillon) have been very very good, or better, in almost every single outing.

But, this is another reason it all seems like a mirage. I have a lot of confidence in the pitchers, but I just don’t think the Yankees pitchers are this good. They’re good, but are they this good? I’m just not convinced yet.

This might just be a season where the Yankees win in spite of it all. Ok. I’ll take it. If this becomes a magical season where the pitchers carry the Yankees to untold heights, I’ll be thrilled. I’ll be a doubter all the way, but I’ll love watching the Yankees prove my skepticism wrong. I’d love to see that. I just want them to win.

WIN!

The injury problems are still a concern as well. Each game we hear of a few players who are hurting. It goes on and on and on. That, too, is unsustainable. This is a team that is flawed in this area. They just can’t stay healthy.

I think this Yankees team is also one with the least amount of depth. They just don’t have quality players to turn to when the starters go down. Heck, the starters, often times, haven’t looked much like quality players.

Is it a mirage?

That’s the big question.

When a team wins so many close games, one has to wonder if they are just really good at hanging tough and finding a way to win or if it’s just that they are just getting lucky to find ways to win.

I hate to say (but I will) that I think the Yankees have been very lucky.

Heading into Saturday’s game, the following were the results of the Yankees wins:

Games won by one run = 5

Games won by two runs = 7

Games won by three runs = 2

Games won by more than three runs = 7

What makes those numbers more frightening, and what makes this seem like more of a mirage is that most of the Yankees bigger wins came earlier in the season and most of the close wins (the lucky wins?) have come in the last weeks. Even with that 2/3rds of their wins have been by fewer than three runs. (Again, last night was an exception to this rule.)

Since May 1, the Yankees have won 10 games. That’s great. Of those ten wins, seven have been by two runs or fewer. Four have been by one run.

This is a team that is winning, but they are not winning in convincing fashion. They’re winning in ways that makes me wonder how.

The Yankees are 22-17. But if one takes half of their 14 wins that came by three runs or fewer (7 wins) and makes them losses, the team’s record could be just 15 -24. That’s a little too close for comfort. This is also why I feel (or fear) that this is a mirage and that it’s not sustainable. If the Yankees were 15-24 would that seem crazy right now? Often times, when looking at the lineup and the injuries and the game-by-game performance, doesn’t his sometimes feel like a club that plays like a 15-24 team?

I am glad the Yankees are winning.

I really am.

I am thrilled beyond words.

I never saw this coming.

It’s the best.

It’s why I tune in.

I love the Yankees. I just want them to win.

I want a World Series this year.

And then next year as well.

And the year after!

But am I convinced they have turned the corner and that they’re this good? No, I’m still not. I wish I was. With each win, I am believing more and more. I really am. But, still, I am bracing for the worst.

Let’s Go Yankees!

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