When the Yankees went under the .500 mark earlier this week it was the latest that they were under .500 since 2007 when they were 41-42 on July 5th. The 2007 team went 53-26 the rest of the way, as they easily claimed a wild card spot and only finished 2 games behind the Boston Red Sox after being 11.5 games out on July 5th.
So, inevitably the question was posed about whether the Yankees can make a similar run this year. The bad news is that the 2014 Yankees are nowhere near as good as the 2007 team, but the good news is that they will not need to win 94 games in this year’s version of the AL East.
The 2007 Yankees team was getting extremely unlucky while this year’s team is pretty fortunate to be where they are. The 2007 team had a plus-55 run differential at this point in the season, so they were very bad in close games.This year’s team is the opposite at minus-34 runs. Close games tend to even out over the course of the 162 game season, and once they did the 2007 Yankees took off.
The 2014 Yankees aren’t even in the same stratosphere on offense as the 2007 team. The 2007 Yankees led the AL in runs (968), wRC+ (119), home runs (201) and wOBA (.361). This year’s Yankees rank 12th in runs (343), 11th in wRC+ (93), 10th in home runs (73) and 9th in wOBA (.311).
Six out of the nine regular starters on the 2007 Yankees had over a .800 OPS compared to one this year — and Mark Teixeira is not that far over at .812 — which would only rank 7th on the 2007 club.
Batting average isn’t a great stat, but four players on the 2007 Yankees team hit over .300 and none of the regular starters hit below .270. This year only three Yankees are hitting over .270 and one of them is Ichiro Suzuki, who has one extra base hit since May 5th.
Obviously, the 2007 Yankees were buoyed by one of the greatest seasons in franchise history by Alex Rodriguez, who hit .314/.422/.635/1.067 with 54 home runs and 156 RBI. They were far from a one man show though. Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui all had very solid years. Posada in particular had a career year, as he had a slash line of .338/.426/.543/.970 with a 157 wRC+ and a .418 wOBA.
The pitching staff was middle of the road for the Yankees in 2007 Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte were the only respectable pitchers on the staff and they even had to give Roger Clemens a call midseason to come out of retirement. However, it did not matter because their elite offense was so spectacular. The only elite thing about this year’s club is their bullpen, which they do not get enough leads for and overuse.
The sad thing is that the 2007 Yankees used to be the norm up until 2013. The dynasty might have ended in 2000 in terms of winning championships, but watching the Yankees the last two seasons should give fans a much greater appreciation of the 2001-2012 Yankee teams.
Sure they only won one championship during that time, but they were still unbelievably talented teams that were extremely successful and awesome to watch. It used to be that I would be anticipating that night’s Yankees game during my whole day during those years, and now it’s just wishing that today’s game would just end already when I’m watching it.
So, there really is zero comparison between this year’s Yankee team and the 2007 version. The Yankees are still in the race by virtue of the mediocrity of the rest of their division. Even if they do go on a run and win the division they will never be the 2007 Yankees.