A Happy Reality Check

We’ve seen and heard regular comparisons between the 2022 Yankees and other great Yankee teams from previous generations recently. “This is the first Yankee team to win (x many) of their first (y many) games since the (insert years) teams and those teams all either reached or won the World Series”, or something similar has been bandied about pretty regularly over the past two months.

And why not? There’s no way to sugarcoat it – this ’22 group is amazing, to the point of being almost surreal. The batters have obliterated baseballs consistently all season, the fielding and base running (which were both horrendous in 2021) are better than average and the pitching is the best the Yankees’ have had this century and it’s not even close – more on that tomorrow.

All added up and it’s led to a 47-16 record, which is the best record to start a season since…This is where I’m going to change things up a bit. Normally, this is where you’d see a reference to the 1998 team or some other Yankee juggernaut from the past.

Let’s open up the sample size. Frankly, “to start the season” is random and more than a little bit of cherry-picking. Let’s open it up to any 63-game stretch within a season. Then, let’s open it up to all MLB teams, not just the Yankees. Those two changes will give us much more information to go on – with the enormous caveat that none of this is a prophecy – it’s just some trivia that makes for good conversation.

In the Wild Card era that began in 1995 (which is an important place to start as we’ll get to in a minute) 12 MLB teams have had stretches in which they won at least 47 out of 63 games within a season. Of the 12, every one reached the postseason, but only three went on to win the World Series – the 1998 Yankees, the 2009 Yankees, and the 2018 Red Sox.

This is an important reminder because the Yankees are going to be playing baseball in October this season. That’s not me being cocky, Baseball-Reference has their odds of reaching the postseason at 99.9 percent.

Yet despite the ridiculous 63-game stretch and their legitimately impressive ability, the Yankees will still be an underdog to the field in the ’22 postseason. That is to say, statistically speaking, it’s much more likely that they won’t win the World Series than they will. There is simply too much randomness in a seven-game series and there are now more postseason series’ than ever.

This is not something over which we should be angry, frustrated, or disappointed in, regardless of how the season ends this October. If the Yankees continue at their current clip during the season but fall short in the playoffs, that doesn’t mean they weren’t the best team. Reminder: The playoffs aren’t designed to determine who the best team is – that’s already been done over 162 games – they’re designed to make the owners money. If you think the 2006 Cardinals or the 2001 Diamondbacks were the best teams in baseball, we’re going to disagree and I’m going to laugh – I’m not sure in what order.

More importantly, regardless of that discussion, this team is just damn fun to watch. Enjoy it for three and a half more months – we’ll cross the white knuckle portion of the season when we get to it. Just let this serve as a reminder, that when you hear that the 2022 Yankees are the first team to (insert random accomplishment) since the (insert year) Yankees, it’s not a prophecy – it’s just trivia.

That said, I’m relishing the thought of Stanton and Judge hitting 12 bombs between them during a Yankees World Series win, as we listen to John Smoltz tell us the Yankees are too home run dependent.

Did I miss something? Let me know. Leave a comment below or yell at me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and/or the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

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