Baseball Musings has a pretty awesome lineup predictor.
And average the best and worst possible lineups together predicts an average offensive value of about 5.3 runs per game. Which, of course, got me thinking...
Last year's Yankees scored 789 runs while allowing 727. So today, let's imagine that the pitchers are no better than last year. Wang and Joba pitch half seasons, Pettitte is sore shouldered, CC merely matches Mussina's 1.22 WHIP, and AJ gets hurt early and often to be replaced a completely ineffective Phil Hughes and Co.
727 runs allowed- middle of the pack in the AL.
But let's also imagine that the offense rebounds to be the productive force we've come to expect the last few seasons.
If the Yanks average 5.2 runs per game, they'll score 842 runs. That 50-point gain in differential predicts a .567 winning percentage. That's 92 wins without improving the pitching, still 3rd in last year's division.
If the offense improves to that average I mentioned earlier, 5.3 runs per game, 859 runs for the season. .575 W%. 93 wins.
And a great offensive season, 5.4 runs per game, 875 runs. Still nearly 100 runs shy of the 2007, 968 run pace. This drives the winning percentage to .584, which rounds up to 95 wins. That would have tied for the Wild Card.
The Yankees could walk to 95 wins if the pitching is only as good as last season's staff. If the pitching is better than last season... If the Yanks cut the runs allowed down to the 2003 level (716), or the 2002 level (697). Could a healthy pitching staff approach the '98 team's 656 allowed?