Playing Down To The Competition

October 1, 2008 – 2:11 pm

One of the explanations for the Yankees’ poor season that you hear a lot of is how poorly they played against the “bad” teams. And there does appear to be a lot of validity to this claim. Here are W-L records against sub-.500 teams for 2008:

Team W-L < .500 Pct Win Diff
Tampa Bay 40-18 0.690 +22
Boston 44-17 0.721 +27
New York 33-23 0.589 +10

That’s pretty amazing. Against “bad” teams, Tampa Bay out-performed them by +12 games and Boston by an incredible +17 games. And here are the records against .500+ teams:

Team W-L .500+ Pct Win Diff
Tampa Bay 45-41 0.523 +4
Boston 40-43 0.482 -3
New York 46-42 0.523 +4

The Yankees had virtually the same record as Tampa Bay against the better teams, and were significantly better than Boston. Amazingly, Boston was actual three games below .500 against these teams. So there’s your season in a nutshell — Tampa Bay and Boston were able to put up far more W’s against the poorer teams than New York was.

But alas, this is really no more than just another downhill trend for the Yankees. In 2007, they were +17 against sub-.500 teams, and in 2006 they were +25. Compare that to Boston who has gone from +10 in 2006 to + 23 in 2007 to this year’s +27:

Team 2008 2007 2006
New York +10 +17 +25
Boston +27 +23 +10

Two teams going in opposite directions. So even though this makes for a good explanation of why they didn’t make the playoffs, it’s just one more symptom of the real problem — it’s a team that’s in a long, slow decline in all aspects of the game. Something needs to happen to reverse the trend.

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