The past couple weeks have seen the Yankees be part of one of the more annoying runs in recent memory. Immediately after a nice, little winning streak, the Yankees lost two of three to the Blue Jays, got swept by the lowly Tigers, and played a brutal Memorial Day game against the Rays.
Despite how it seems in the moment, it could always be worse.
The most brutal stretch in Yankees’ history is either the franchise record 13-game losing streak in 1913, or a run that happened from September 20th to October 7th in 1908. In that time, they went 5-12 while being outscored 122 to 25, and OPSed .547 as a team. Five wins in that time isn’t completely horrible, but all came by one run, with the highest scoring being 3-2. In just the 12 losses, they were outscored 116-14, for an average score of nearly 10-1.
However, the 1908 Yankees were already not a good team when that streak happened. They started that run over 30 games back of first and ended it nearly 40 back. There are other ones that happened to team that either were good, or we had high hopes for.
The most infamous one in recent memory probably belongs to the 2000 Yankees. On September 13th, they beat the Blue Jays 3-2 for their sixth win in seven games, moving to nine up in the AL East.
Over the rest of the regular season, the Yankees went 3-15. They luckily hung on to still win the AL East, but the final margin ended up being just 2.5 games. After being on pace for 95 wins after that September 13th game, they ended the season with just 87. Thankfully, that team managed to turn things back around and won the World Series, but they sure didn’t look like it just a few weeks prior.
In a similar vein, the longest losing streak by any playoff-bound Yankee team happened in 1953. From June 21st to July 1st that season, the ‘53 Yankees lost nine consecutive games, getting outscored 58-19 in the process. That team was always due some sort of regression after a 46-13 start and an 18-game winning streak, taking them to a 126-win pace. It just happened all at once. Like the 2000 team, they still ended up winning the World Series.
In 1995, a team that eventually broke the franchise’s playoff drought went through two different brutal runs. Over the last couple weeks of May, the Yankees went 6-14. A couple months later in August, they had another bad run, going 4-14 from the 9th through the 26th. That second one took them under .500 and threatened to keep them from winning that eventual Wild Card berth.
Even the ‘98 team, the winningest in franchise history weren’t immune to a bad run. In the first three weeks of September, they went 9-11, accounting for nearly a quarter of their entire losses that season.
The costliest stretch in Yankees’ history probably came in the 1940 season. From July 28th to August 8th, the team went 3-8. In that time, they dropped two of three to both Detroit and Cleveland. At the end of it, they were 11.5 games back of first.
What hurts is that over the rest of the season, they went 38-16. Yet, that would be good only for a third place finish. They ended the season one game back of Cleveland, and two games back of the first place Tigers. All it would’ve taken is three games in that stretch going differently to completely alter the pennant.
None of this is to say that the Yankees are going to be fine. What’s happened over the last two weeks has been pretty galling. It’s just that it always could be worse.