Through the first month of the season, the Yankees are playing better than anyone could have expected and are on top of the AL East. While some teams may boast a better record, including the crosstown rival Mets, the case can absolutely be made that the Yankees were April's best MLB team.
By some miracle the Yankees posted winning records in 2013 and 2014 despite scoring less runs than their opponents over the course of the season. The 2015 squad has turned that around in a big way and were already 25 runs in the black by month's end. Better yet, they did it while having one of the league's toughest schedules up to that point. The folks at Baseball Reference use both run differential and strength of schedule to calculate a metric called the Simple Rating System. This metric essentially tells us how many runs per game better a team is than average and can be a better indicator of true performance than wins alone. Through April 30th, here are the top five teams in the MLB according to the Simple Rating System:
By the looks of it, not only are the Yankees back as a powerhouse franchise, but so is the entire AL East (the Red Sox ranked eighth). What's even more encouraging is that they've found success through a balanced attack. Offensively, they are scoring nearly five runs per game, which is good for fifth in the majors. They're doing this by taking a page out of the book of the great Yankee offenses of the 90's and 00's. Thanks in large part to a resurgent Mark Teixeira and a rejuvenated Alex Rodriguez, their 29 home runs and 84 walks rank third and second in the league. Through patience and the long ball, Earl Weaver would be proud.
On the flip side, the Yankees have surrendered well under four runs per game on the strength of a pitching staff that has put up a 3.23 team ERA, which is the league's fifth best. That performance is no fluke as the team's 3.17 FIP suggests there is actually room for a tiny bit of improvement. Last but not least, the flamethrowers they have in both the rotation and bullpen have recorded a total of 208 strikeouts, the best mark in the majors.
All in all, the Yankees have enjoyed a good bit of success during the first month of the season and all signs indicate that it should be sustainable for at least the immediate future. If Carlos Beltran can find some semblance of his former self and Masahiro Tanaka can get healthy again, we could be in for a really fun summer.
All stats given in this article are as of 4/30/2015