Second Place Yankees Achieved Greater Success than Red Sox against Top Teams

July 18, 2018

The New York Yankees at the all-star break have the second best record in major league baseball, winning 65.3% of the 95 games that they have played. The Yankees play in the same Eastern Division of the American League as do the Red Sox, and a fairly significant gap between their records has developed since the teams were tied for first place on July 1. At 62-33, the Yankees now have six fewer wins and three more losses than the Sox.

In comprising their current record, however, the Yankees did much better than the Sox in games played against teams that based on current records would make post-season play in 2018. Against such teams, the Yanks went 22-10 prior to the break, a 68.8 winning percentage compared to a 50% winning percentage by the Sox against playoff-bound competition. The Yankees took 5 of 9 head-to-head games against the Red Sox, 5 of 7 versus the Cleveland Indians, 5 of 7 against the Houston Astros, 2 of 3 each against the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves, and swept all three games played against the Seattle Mariners.

Not only did the Yankees out-succeed the Red Sox against other successful squads, they have fewer such games remaining in their schedule against top competition — just 13 games — than the 27 contests against the tops teams that the Red Sox will be playing. All but 3 of the Yankee games are moreover against the Red Sox in intra-divisional play including the final three game of the season. This could prove a big advantage for New York. The Yankees played similarly against the top tier of opponents, winning 68.8% compared to victories in 63.5% of their other games. The Red Sox, by contrast, split their games against teams that based on current records would make the post-season but won 74.4% of all their other games. Only 37 of the remaining 64 scheduled Red Sox games (57.8% of them) involve opponents that must improve their performance and hope that an elite team ahead of them fades in order to make the playoffs.

The probability is quite high that both the Red Sox and Yankees will make the playoffs, one as the division winner and the other as a wild card granted to the two non-division winners with the best records. And it  makes intuitive sense that the all-star break finds the Red Sox in first place and the Yankees chasing them. The Red Sox have better starting pitching, making the Sox a more well-rounded team. Otherwise, each squad has an excellent closer, the pitcher used in the final inning of games when his team holds a lead to nail down the final three outs and the win. Their offenses are each excellent, too. Boston hitters have a better collective team batting average (0.272) than the Yankees (0.252), but the Yanks have hit 26 more home runs with 3 fewer games played than have the Red Sox. The widely considered best all-around measure of hitting, the on-base-plus-slugging percentage, is neck-and-neck at 0.801 for the Red Sox and 0.793 for the Yankees. Among all major league clubs, those measures are respectively ranked numbers one and two. The top starting pitchers on the two teams are comparable, but the Sox seemingly enjoy an advantage in starters beyond the number one guy on the roster.

Copyright 2018, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.





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