Dallas Keuchel leads the Astros past the Yankees and into their first-ever ALDS.
Heading into this year's edition of the American League Wild Card Game, you had to appreciate that the upstart Astros' first postseason opponents were the Yankees, the team that for much of the past two decades has served as the American League's gatekeeper; the narratives about new versus old spread themselves. Another contrast you had to appreciate was the out-of-place starting-pitcher matchup. On the eve of Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole trading flame-emoji heaters, the Astros and Yankees started two pitchers who in the game combined for one pitch clocked above 95 mph, according to PITCHf/x data.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The Astros and Yankees battle for the chance to dethrone the defending AL champion Royals.
With a six-game lead in the AL East, the New York Yankees remained subdued at the July 31st trade deadline. They refused to mortgage their future while the Toronto Blue Jays loaded up for a long fall. As a result, they were disposed of in the divisional race, and nearly lost home-field advantage in the wild-card game.
Jake and Jordan take in a game at Yankee Stadium, where the ghosts of over five years of baseball history reside.
Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman, the proprietors of Cespedes Family Barbecue, are taking another baseball trip and chronicling their travels at Baseball Prospectus.
New York City is a place with lots of stuff. In fact, it probably has the most stuff, of anywhere, in the entire world. Besides the 10 Million or so people who live here, New York has lots of parks, buses, angry people, nice people, and a whole lot of smelly trash. Most importantly, New York City has baseball. From the early days of the New York Knickerbockers and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms to the current day Yankees and Mets, New York has a long and passionate baseball history. Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Willie Mays played in this city. So did Benny Agbayani and Lyle Overbay! Baseball means a lot to New York and New York means a lot to baseball, so we thought we’d do our best to mess it all up.
Has the Yankees' sole healthy slugger suffered because of the players batting behind him?
The more I learn about baseball, the more I think that much of the perceived divide between traditional baseball types and statheads—which is itself overstated—stems from some subset of each side overstating its case. Take clubhouse chemistry, the subject of frequent battles between people on opposite sides of the analytical aisle. A player (or former player) might insist that team chemistry is more important than talent, or that chemistry might be worth 20 wins. And a stathead, frustrated by an inability to measure it and without having experienced it himself, might say (or at least be saidto say) that chemistry doesn’t matter.
It seems likely that the truth lies somewhere in the middle: chemistry can help, but probably not so much that it could make a last-place team into a first-place team. If either side said that, the other wouldn’t argue. Instead, extreme and polarizing claims from the pro-chemistry camp prompt equally extreme and polarizing claims from the anti-chemistry camp, and vice versa.
The Yankees haven't produced many successful homegrown starters, but they have been churning out a wave of cheap relief arms.
Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Josh Norris has covered the Trenton Thunder and the Yankees farm system for The Trentonian for the last six seasons and spends his free time filming prospects in plush locales like Scranton, Allentown, Wilmington, Lakewood and Staten Island. Previously, he covered the Eugene Emeralds for Scout.com and Oregon club baseball (before NCAA baseball returned) for the Oregon Daily Emerald.
One year, four months, and five days ago, the Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. It was an unusually exciting trade, in that we hadn’t heard much about it before it went down, and it involved two of baseball’s most promising young players. As the internet scrambled to write up responses, a consensus emerged: both teams had done well to address an area of need. The Mariners, who hadn’t hit much since Edgar Martinez retired, had more trouble attracting hitters than pitchers to their big ballpark, and had just batted Miguel Olivo cleanup 43 times, and thus needed someone who wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of a major league lineup. The Yankees, who had a surplus of 1B/DH types signed to long-term contracts, needed a young starter to slot into their rotation behind CC Sabathia. If either team was believed to have “won” the trade, it may have been the Mariners, who wound up with the position player, generally the less risky part of any pitcher-for-position-player swap. But neither team was widely believed to have lost.
It’s a bit of an industry, making projections on who’s going to be a New York Yankee. Felix Hernandez was a future Yankee forever until the Mariners made sure that he wasn’t. Just this week, that infamous Royals graphic placed Mike Trout on the Yankees already. And the terrific New York Daily News-er and 80-grade Internet troll Andy Martino gave his Mets followers a little “FY” treatment regarding Matt Harvey.
There’s a strange thing that happens to normally rational baseball writers when discussing the Yankees. People who would normally question every assumption and demand to see some empirical proof blindly believe that the Yankees have mastered the dark art of picking up past-their-prime players and restoring some of their former success. The only evidence is anecdotal, so we know we’re being naughty and going off the reservation, sabermetrically speaking. But like Luke Skywalker, we’ve searched our feelings, and we know it to be true. And we’re only kind of kidding.
When the Yankees traded for a struggling Ichiro Suzuki last July, The Great Grant Brisbee—after acknowledging the absurdity of what he was about to say—wrote this:
Ben and Sam team up for a simulpodcast with Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs and FanGraphs Audio to discuss whether the Yankees have been lucky, the best way to watch baseball, and the value of old scouting reports.