Yankees Win 100, Reclaim AL East

22:17 Sun 27 Sep 2009
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After not making it to the playoffs last year, the New York Yankees returned to their rightful spot atop the American League East. They clinched against the Red Sox, and hit the one hundred game mark for the first time since 2004. Their record gives them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

They started their season series against the Red Sox 0–8, but finished it 9–9. Boston is almost certain to make the playoffs as the American League wild card, and are in fact tied with the Angels for the third-best record in baseball. While it’s entirely possible that the Yankees will flame out in the playoffs again, I think they have a great shot at adding another World Series title, given that their pitching is pretty good, they still have Mariano Rivera, and their hitting is ridiculous.

I’ve never figured out how skill-determined baseball playoffs are. The season is pretty definitive, I think—one hundred and sixty-two games go a long way at establishing which teams are good and which aren’t. A best-of-seven series still seems like it allows for a lot of randomness, but it’s probably not too bad in terms of reflecting which is the better team. Best-of-five, though, is another matter. Is playoff baseball really a different animal from regular-season baseball? I do think that’s true of football, where in particular defenses tend to better (no team that’s led the NFL in passing has ever won a Super Bowl). I’m not sure that’s true of baseball in the same way. It’s possible that pitching becomes a shade stronger, maybe tweaking Berra’s dictum that “good pitching beats good batting. And vice versa.”

(Incidentally, this subject also makes me wonder again whether or not Billy Beane’s lack of success in the playoffs was really due to a flaw in his system, or if it was just an insufficiently small sample size of games.)

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