The New York Yankees are 9-6 in one-run games this season. That within itself is not overly remarkable. Assume the Yankees’ .634 winning percentage as their true talent level – i.e. the level of which we would expect them to play over a stretch of time – and over 15 games you’d expect them to win between nine and 10 of those games. No, the percentage of 9-6 is nothing special, it’s the sum of 9-6 at this point in the season that is.
The San Diego Padres boast a Major League-best 19-12 road record. The White Sox aren’t far off with a record of 18-12. At the bottom of the pole, the Cubs’ 12-21 and Jays’ 12-19 records are the worst in the bigs. What’s so interesting about the Yankees record is that they’ve only encountered 15 one-run games. Every other team – every single one – has more than 20 one-run games so far.
It’s not like the Yankees are playing a schedule against a bunch of markedly inferior squads, either. Baseball Prospectus’ Third Order Wins adjust for strength of schedule and have the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox all within a game of each other. After some early season thunderstorms and barnstorming alike, the Jays have faded but still have more Third Order wins than defeats. Expectedly, even Baltimore looks better when examined with strength of schedule in mind. New York is a strong squad heading for a playoff berth and potentially a division crown, but their sparse distribution of one run games doesn’t even match up with their best units in recent memory:
2009 – 103 W, 38 ORG
2004 – 101 W, 40 ORG
2003 – 101 W, 36 ORG
2002 – 103 W, 42 ORG
1998 – 114 W, 31 ORG
Expect more one-run games from the Yankees from here on out. If for no other reason than, well, they can’t really have fewer.