Here are some observations from the last few weeks:
- On May 7 the Yankees started one of their most difficult stretches of games all season. They are in the middle of 17 consecutive games against the Twins, Red Sox, Rays, Tigers and Mets. That's three 1st place teams, as of this writing, and the Red Sox and Mets.
After winning two of 3 in Beantown, the Bombers lost 7 of their next 11. They stand at 6-8 so far in this stretch of games. Only a sweep of the Mets will salvage a winning record.
- Despite the bad play, the Yankees are still in the thick of things. Their .610 win percentage is second-best in the AL and third-best in MLB. They've outscored their opponents by 68 runs, which is second-best in MLB.
The Bombers should still consider themselves lucky. Sure, it's just May, but the Yankees only hold a one-game lead on a playoff position. Toronto (of all clubs) is hot on the team's heals, and tied in the wins column.
- There are a surprisingly large number of good teams right now. Here's a sampling of teams, with their win percentages and what that projects to at season's end:
Tampa - .732, 119 wins
Philadelphia - .625, 101 wins
NYY - .610, 99 wins
Detroit - .585, 95 wins
Minnesota - .585, 95 wins
San Diego - .585, 95 wins
Toronto - .581, 94 wins
St. Louis - .571, 93 wins
Texas - .571, 93 wins
Cincinnati - .561, 91 wins
LAD - .561, 91 wins
Last season only 7 teams in all of baseball won at least 90 games. Right now 11 teams are on pace to win 90, including some surprises. I foresee a correction on the horizon.
- If this recent stretch of games was among the most difficult of the season for the Yankees, they fortunately have an upcoming stretch that will be much easier. Beginning on Friday, May 28, the Bombers get to play Cleveland 4 times, Baltimore 6 times, Houston 3 times, and Toronto 3 times.
That's 13 games against teams who are not on pace to win 90-plus games (not remotely close), and three important games north of the border with a team that shouldn't be in the Wild Card hunt come season's end.
- The Yankees play Tampa 7 times in September.
- Mark Teixeira and his $20-plus million salary are hitting .275/.319/.399 on the season. Oh ... wait, that's what Derek Jeter and his $20-plus million salary are hitting on the season.
Thank god Tex is hitting so well in May. He's managed to get his season numbers up to a robust .214/.335/.396. Phew! Glad that slow start is over.
In Tex's defense, it usually takes him 5 or 6 months to get going. Once December baseball rolls around, watch out!
- Tex may not be lighting it up this month, but Alex Rodriguez is. In May he's batting .354/.434/.585, and that includes an 0-4 yesterday (with 3 strikeouts, nice work A-Rod). His season line stands at .288/.371/.490. That's still below expectations, but he's getting there.
- Robinson Cano is heating up again. He's also back to his old habits. In the last seven days he's hitting .355/.355/.516. I want to be able to heap unequivocal praise on Robbie and his team-leading .977 OPS, but when he's drawn 0 walks in 7 games ... I ... just ... can't.
- Finally, I've been to two games this week and the scoreboard is doing something unusual the second time through the Yankee lineup. Instead of showing the player with a bat, or in a batting helmet, the team shows a series of photos of the player modeling a suit before finishing on a final pose. The photo of the player in a suit stays put for the entire at-bat.
The following Yankees should never wear a suit, ever: Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher.
Bonus points go to A-Rod, who looks way, way too serious in the photos. He even makes the Derek Zoolander face. Not to worry Alex, I'm sure that modeling contract is just a phone call away.
Minus a million points to Tex. He strikes a pose right out of the Handsome Boy Modeling School for the final shot. Not only does he fail to look at the camera, but he touches his face as well. Bravo you .731 OPS hitter, you.