Season in Review: New York Yankees

A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula and adjusted for strength of schedule, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.

Number Five New York Yankees

If you’ve been paying attention this week, you will have hopefully picked up that incredibly this is the fourth team from the AL East already listed within the top five teams. The Yanks check in with 91.1 projected wins by BaseRuns thanks to a much more balanced team than Toronto above them and more akin to the first three teams we saw. The Yankees posted the 7th best offense and 11th best defense in the league.

The offense rested on Alex Rodriguez and a surprising rejuvenation from Johnny Damon. Rodriguez gets too little credit for being probably the best overall hitter in the American League this season and as always when you have a team full of stars, the supporting cast was solid as well. Possibly free agents Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi both contributed excellent offensive seasons as well.

What did New York in on offense though was their players up the middle. Jorge Posas was hurt early on and Jose Molina was a poor substitute. Robinson Cano had a horrid April which was bad enough to drag his whole season line down the tubes. Derek Jeter had a big off year, recovering some in September after their playoff hopes were already dashed (though you won’t be hearing any words about Jeter only getting hits in meaningless situations) and center field was a nightmare as well.

On the pitching side, the rotation was a mess of injuries and ineffectiveness. On the plus side was the surprising Mike Mussina who succeeded despite a microscopic swinging strike rate, but he might retire. Joining him was Joba Chamberlain, but there are concerns about whether he will be able to stick in the rotation health-wise. Andy Pettitte was also solid enough as well.

On the negative side were injuries to Chien-Ming Wang and Phil Hughes and dismal performances from Sidney Ponson (why?) and Carl Pavano. In the bullpen, amazingly this was one of Mariano Rivera‘s best seasons to date and further shows that nobody has any idea when he’s going to show signs of age or when or even if, batters will ever figure out his cutter.

How do the Yanks look for 2009? Well, they should be busy during the winter as usual and that takes a lot of the edge off but right now they have serious question marks up and down their rotation and a rapidly aging offensive core.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Repeatable skills, Joe. Repeatable skills.