While this season has exceeded expectations for the New York Yankees, their successes fall by the wayside because of the dominance in the AL East.
Last season, the American League East was an absolute joke.
Uncontested practically the entire season, the Toronto Blue Jays emerged victors, while the New York Yankees took second, just six games behind Toronto and six games ahead of the gutsy Baltimore Orioles.
This season? Four teams from that same division are amazingly in contention for a potential playoff spot.
A far cry from last season, the Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Orioles, and Yankees are all fighting for three possible playoff spots. In a battle that could possibly carry on until the final regular season game, chances are considerably high that three teams will gain a berth to October.
So, no matter how successful the Yankees may be as the season draws to a close, they will most likely fall victim to the powerful AL East division. Currently chasing three teams for a Wild Card slot, two of those teams are from their own division.
The dominance of this division is unparalleled to any other this season. The Yankees are currently in fourth and are only four games out of the division lead.
All other division leaders in baseball have at least a five-game lead over their next competition. This plethora of contenders in the East is, in short, ridiculous.
That is a real shame.
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For a team like the Yankees, who found themselves in last place for a good part of the season, the blow will be especially crushing. They’ve spent all of August and September clawing their way out of the depths of the AL East.
Even more so, they’ve been spending all season trying to prove they are not over-paid athletes playing far past their prime.
Since August 1, they’ve done a pretty good job proving that. With the Baby Bombers leading the surge, the Yankees have rocketed up the standings and taken the league by storm. That, in itself, means this run has been nothing short of spectacular.
After starting the season 9-17, they are 68-51 since then. In addition, they are among the winningest teams after the All-Star Break, boasting a 33-24 record.
A run like this, especially from a team so far gone in the beginning months of the season, doesn’t go unnoticed. Additionally, this type of run proves the Yankees could be a threat in the playoffs. However, the other AL East teams are standing in the way.
The perfect ending to the Yankees storybook run would be a World Series championship. However, what if they don’t get a chance to make it that far? What if the dominance of the AL East keeps them from getting that chance in the first place?
New York finds itself in a division that challenges them, but also makes them even better. Without the high level of competition of the AL East, the Yankees might not be a playoff-caliber team at all.
Being in an authoritative division is both a blessing and a curse. But right now, the Yankees are dealing with a curse…one that finds them left out of the playoffs.