Following a promising 6-4 home stand, the New York Yankees may have a brighter outlook than anyone could have reasonably expected.
Let’s rewind to March. If someone walked up to you and claimed that the New York Yankees would possess a 50-48 record on July 25, leaving them 4.5 games out of a playoff spot, would you tell them to tear it all apart?
No. You absolutely would not.
The constant frenzy of trade ideas and speculation has left fans with no perception. Sure, the team is slightly older than they should be. Sure, they have fooled fans all season long.
However, are they a contender in today’s playoff format? Yes, they certainly are.
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The Yankees had an awful start to 2016 which was made abruptly clear. A 9-17 record entering a May 6 tilt with the Red Sox defined a reeling team. Yes, if their .346 winning percentage at that point had continued, an overhaul would be the name of the game.
The key word right there is “if”. Joe Girardi’s team has only been what they were intended to be since that day: a playoff contender.
It is easy math. Since May 6, the New York Yankees are 41-31 (.569). Flip that mark over an 162-game schedule and the Bombers would finish at a stellar 92-70 clip.
You know who that would be be superior to? The Toronto Blue Jays, or the team currently holding the second wild card in the American League.
With that said, everyone knows you cannot eliminate a month. The front office knows that just as well as any fan, player, or media platform. That is why they are in the difficult situation as to whether they are ‘selling’ at the deadline.
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So, with the inability to cross out the month of April, let’s just say the team plays at an evidently achievable .569 rate for the remainder of the season. What do we have ourselves? A team with a final record of 86-76, likely within spitting distance of a playoff spot.
Remember, the Yankees won 87 games last year and absolutely no one was on the sell brigade.
Any set of ears listening to the clamor of this year’s wrongdoings is a set of ears being wasted. All that remains apparent is a team that took a month to hit its ceiling.
Perhaps it was poorly assembled in some areas, but why should anyone sneeze at a potential postseason run? With the unique mix of seasoned veterans, rising youth, and dominant back-end hammers the roster contains, a run at championship number 28 would not be inconceivable.
As proven time and time again, it is not the most talented team that brings home the hardware, it is the team best suited for postseason baseball. Most importantly, it is the team that goes in with the psychological edge and swagger.
If there is an extra avenue — the second wild card — which allows a team to play an 163rd game, why would they not take it? If there is an alternative path which puts a team 12 wins away from a championship, why would that very path be overlooked?
The Yankees seem to be hitting their stride, the path is present, and the right mix of buying and selling can shape the team for contention. Not to mention the limitless divisional chances to be had in the month of September.
Looking in any other direction would just be a straight absurdity at this point.