After sweeping the big four-game series with the Red Sox, are the Yankees now favorites to win the AL East — and to go on and win the World Series? You betcha, but let’s not print those World Series tickets yet.
Though New York has the best record in the AL — heck, they’ve got the best record in either league – there are some problems, the principal one being their difficulty beating good teams.
The Yanks are 41-12 against teams under .500, but just 28-30 against teams that are .500 or better. That’s Boston, Tampa Bay, Detroit,
Chicago, Los Angeles, Texas, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Florida. The five best among that group are the Red Sox, Devil Rays, Angels,
Rangers, and Phillies, five teams whose collective won-lost percentage is .568. Against them, the Yanks are just 17-21 or .447.
If the division race is close, there could be a particularly tough patch for the Yanks from September 21-27, when they go back-to-back against the Angels (three in LA) and the Red Sox (three at Yankee Stadium). On the other hand, the division race may be over by then — but if the Yankees don’t improve their performance against over .500 teams, how do you like their chances in the playoffs, particularly if it comes down to the Yankees and the Angels? The cure for all the Yankees’ problems could be simply maintaining the best record in baseball so they have
the home field advantage throughout the postseason: the Yanks’ home record is 39-17, best in the bigs. And even more good news for the
Yanks: the Angels, the second best team in the AL so far this year, are just 31-32 against over-.500 teams.