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Pennant Caliber Teams

Wednesday was the Yanks' 14th walk-off win of the year, and they've had a ton of come from behind victories this season.  To some people that speaks to the team's character, their camaraderie, their chemistry.  To others it speaks to a strong offense and weak pitching.

I'm just thinking about what it takes to win the American League Pennant.

Team RS/G rank RA/G rank
Rays '08 9th 2nd
BoSox '07 3rd 1st
Tigers '06
5th 1st
ChiSox '05
9th 3rd
BoSox '04
1st 4th
Yanks '03
3rd 3rd
Angels '02
4th 1st
Yanks '01
5th 3rd
Yanks '00
6th 5th
Yanks '99
3rd 2nd


In 7 of the last 10 years, only 3 teams have overcome competition that ranked ahead of them in both offense and defense.  The 2000 and 2001 Yankees went into the post season the 3rd best team (trailing the Mariners and the Athletics in both categories).  The 2005 White Sox beat the Angels.

The Yankees' offense ranks first in 2009, with the Angels and Boston at 2 and 3.  Detroit ranks 10th.

But Yankee pitching only ranks 8th (a tick above league average).  Boston is second, Detroit is 5th, and Los Angeles near Anaheim ranks 11th.

If anybody but Boston wins the pennant, it will be at least the weakest pitching (relative to league strength) since the 2000 Yankees, and possibly longer.  I know that Mitre and Gaudin won't be getting the ball, that CMW is nowhere near the roster, that Phil Hughes has transformed the bullpen. 

But let's not blind ourselves to reality- the Yankees are not as far above the rest of the league as their record suggests (19-14 in 1 run games, 52-23 at home).