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September 25, 2005

The Home Stretch
by SG

If not for Jaret Wright, the Yankees may have won their last 14 games in a row. Instead, they are 12-2 in their last 14, still a very impressive run. Unfortunately for them, the Red Sox and Indians are also keeping pace, so they are all in a virtual heat for two playoff spots.

I have a lot of issues with the wild card. First of all, it cheapens division races. Of more concern to me is that teams do not compete for it on an equal playing field. Given the unbalanced schedule and interleague play, the quality of opposition faced by the contenders for the wild card can vary significantly. A lot of people have complained about the Indians getting to beat up on KC while the Yankees had to play stronger teams in the AL East. I decided to look at the records of all the playoff contenders vs. teams over .500 and under .500. I did not include interleague play in these numbers because let's face it, the National League is the equivalent of AAAA. Teams over .500 as I write this are Boston, the White Sox, Cleveland, Anaheim, Minnesota, the Yankees, and Oakland.

Games vs. teams over .500 (as of 9/25)

Anaheim: 68
White Sox: 65
Cleveland: 65
Oakland: 62
Boston: 55
Yankees: 54

Interestingly, the Yankees have played the fewest games against AL teams over .500.

Winning percentage vs. teams over .500 (as of 9/25)

Boston: 56.4 %
Yankees: 55.6 %
Anaheim: 54.0 %
White Sox: 50.8 %
Oakland: 48.4 %
Cleveland: 44.6 %

The Red Sox have the best winning percentage against teams over .500. Cleveland has been terrible against good teams.

How about vs. teams under .500?

Games vs. teams under .500 (as of 9/25)

Yankees: 82
Boston: 81
Oakland: 74
Anaheim: 73
Cleveland: 72
White Sox: 71

Winning percentage vs. teams under .500 (as of 9/25)

White Sox: 67.6%
Cleveland: 66.7%
Oakland: 60.8%
Yankees: 59.8%
Anaheim: 59.8%
Boston: 58.0%

The White Sox and Indians have really fattened up on the below .500 teams.

All teams above/below .500 are not created equal, so I don't know how meaningful these numbers are, but I think the fact that the Yankees have played the fewest games against good teams should calm down the cries of unfair scheduling a bit.

Back to the Yankees, hopefully Jaret Wright has thrown his last pitch of the season. At this point, he does not belong in the rotation, and given his early inning struggles it is doubtful that he is much of an option out of the bullpen. It was good to see Gary Sheffield finally play the OF again, not so much for his defense, but to free up the DH spot for some people who really need it or to get Bernie out of CF.

Right now, I would say that Boston has the advantage over the Yankees, with their final seven games at home. The Yankees have to go to Baltimore to play four games, then finish out the season in Boston for three games. Baltimore has now lost 8 straight games, which scares me. Again, I think it is imperative for the Yankees to pick up a game on Boston before going to Fenway. Hopefully Toronto will help out.