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You Will Never Be Younger Than You Are Right Now

Batman #263: One move, Yankees, and zing! (

After last night’s shocking, come-from-behind win against the Orioles, the Yankees lead the AL East by one game. Don’t get too worked up by this; not only is it early, but they have the worst record of any division leader. But don’t worry about the standings just yet, or the winning percentage, or the fact that the Rockies are 10-2 and the Yankees aren’t. You have to look at things like strength of schedule and run differential to divine anything about the future. The Rockies have had eight games against the Pirates and Mets, which for this year might be saying the same thing twice.

When it comes to run differential, the Yankees are one of only seven teams in the league that are in a positive place, but have the second-lowest score:

Rangers +32
Blue Jays +17
Indians +16
Royals +12
White Sox +12
Yankees +7
Angels +4

One thing this might suggest to us is just how close some of the Yankees’ wins have been. They’ve already won three one-run games, including last night’s shocker. Maybe the quality of the bullpen (including Bartolo Colon—who would have thought we would say that?) keeps them winning close contests all year long, but it’s equally possible that their luck turns. They’re currently 3-1 in one-run games. Last year they were only 20-19 in such games despite an above-average bullpen. Speaking of which: did you know that David Robertson, who was part of that above-average pen, still hasn’t pitched more innings than long-term nonentity Luis Ayala? It seems clear that Robertson has abused Girardi’s cat in some unspeakable way that has not yet been disclosed to the public.

You already knew to be wary of the Rangers, and we will get some idea of how the Yankees match up with last year’s AL pennant winner in just a few hours, but the Blue Jays’ +17 differential may come as a surprise given their 6-6 record. They have lost five one-run games, and just as the Yankees’ luck could turn, so could theirs. They would be greatly helped if Adam Lind or Travis Snider would wake up their bats and Aaron Hill would retire—as bad as he was last year, as much as we shouldn’t be too hasty in condemning a player for just 11 games, .170/.180/.213, no home runs, one walk in 50 plate appearances is just too special not to comment upon.

The Jays have some good prospects lying around, including second baseman Brett Lawrie, acquired from the Brewers this winter, who is hitting .441 in his first eight games. He’s a poor defender at second, and the Jays currently have him playing a poor third. They need help at both positions, so the position change may be academic for now. Left Fielder Eric Thames and first baseman David Cooper are also hitting well in small samples, and one of the big questions this year will be if this team, which has shown complacency in the face of their lineup problems in recent years, will be aggressive in moving these kids up if the vets continue to fail them.

The Yankees go to Toronto for two games beginning Tuesday, making for five straight games—beginning with the current series against the Rangers—that constitute as much of a test as the team has had so far. If there is any message to this entry, I suppose it’s to enjoy last night’s overthrow of the short-lived Orioles revival, but temper your enthusiasm, because there is still some fine-tuning to be done before the Yankees can be counted on to reel off a long series of wins against the best opposition in the league.