Right off the batt, I’m going to apologize to anyone who’s reading this and isn’t a Yankee fan, because this is going to be a post that is very spoiled and very whiny. We’re incredibly lucky as Yankee fans to be seeing a team that might end up as one of the best of all-time; a team that even regressed, conservative projections will have winning 103 games; a team with virtually no weaknesses.
And it’s so hard to find something to talk about.
I’ve been open before about how my interests in the game have changed over the years. I’m still driven by the stories that we can find in the data, and I’ll trust a projection system over the eye test. However, I’ve also become a little less interested in the “Hey, this shiny new stat is out” type of post, and we’ve fortunately been able bring writers on staff who can do the gritty analytical work better than I can. Sabermetrics still form the backbone of my thinking about the game, but this team feels too big to simply reduce it to that.
Aaron Judge is the best player in baseball, but there’s only so many ways to say that that aren’t just ... he’s the best (though Jesse’s more literary piece from a month ago is a must-read). Giancarlo Stanton is finally the 1A piece in the lineup we’ve been dreaming about for so long, but he’s not really doing much different; he’s simply being Giancarlo Stanton. Even for the players who have taken steps forward, like Gleyber Torres and Jameson Taillon, once you do two or three posts on their changes and improvements, it’s easy to run low on things to talk about.
On the macro side, we’re still probably a little early to talk about the historical status of this team. They’re the best in baseball and they’re #OnPace to be one of the greatest in history, but there are 99 games left this season and a lot can happen; the 2017 Dodgers were playing at a 116-win pace as late as August 25th at 91-36 and promptly lost 16 of their next 17 games. I wrote about Judge chasing 62 home runs, and probably the biggest piece of feedback I received was that it’s too early to have the conversation. I don’t necessarily think that kind of take is wrong, but if we wait until late August or September, maybe we don’t get to have this conversation at all.
All of this gets me thinking: What’s the ideal kind of team to cover? You start to run out of ways to say “Good God, this team is good,” but if you cover the Royals, there’s only so many ways to say “Good God, this team is terrible”. There’s nothing worse than mediocrity, so covering the Angels must be a drag:
every time I see an Angels highlight it's like "Mike Trout hit three homes runs and raised his average to .528 while Shohei Ohtani did something that hasn't been done since 'Tungsten Arm' O'Doyle of the 1921 Akron Groomsmen, as the Tigers defeated the Angels 8-3"— ℳatt (@matttomic) May 18, 2021
I’m therefore inclined to think that the best kind of team to cover is one that’s on the better side of OK, but not good enough that the greatness just washes over you the way this Yankee team does. The Toronto Blue Jays, I think, are the best example — they’re good, but they have just enough disappointments and just enough of an uphill battle that you have a plethora of season-long topics to write about.
But I wouldn’t trade the opportunity to write about more topics for all the excess wins that they the Yankees have posted thus far in 2022. It’s been the most fun I’ve had watching baseball since 2017, and as someone a little too young to have seen the 1998 squad, it’s my first real chance to see an all-time historical team. If that means I have to think a little harder about my topics between now and October, I think that’s worth it.