Postseason Dominance

The 2009 Yankees have now done something only 2 teams have done since the advent of the wild card in 1995, win their first 5 postseason games.  Let us look briefly at their company to see if we can divine how the rest of the postseason might play out for the Yankees.

In 1999, the Yankees cruised past the AL West champions Rangers, winning 8-0, 3-1, 3-0. They followed that up by taking the first two games from the wild card Red Sox, 4-3 and 3-2. Then, they lost Game 3 13-1, getting dominated by eventual Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez. The Yankees did not lose again. They wrapped up the Red Sox with 9-2 and 6-1 victories, then they swept the Braves 4-1, 7-2, 6-5, 4-1. Game 3 of the World Series was their only close game after their only loss. The 1999 Yankees were the most dominant postseason team of the wild card era, rivaled only by the 2005 White Sox.

The 2005 White Sox are the one near miss. They swept the wild card Red Sox by a combined score of 24-9, then they dropped Game 1 of the ALCS to the West champion Angels, 3-2. They followed that up with four straight wins by a combined 21-9. They then swept the Astros, though they did not win a single game by more than 2 runs.

The other winner of 5 straight games to open the postseason were the 2007 Colorado Rockies. After beating the Padres in a one-game playoff, they swept the equally hot NL East champion Phillies then took four straight from the West champion Diamondbacks. How did they follow up this stretch of dominance? They were swept by the Red Sox, with a lead only in the first 3 innings of Game 2.

This Yankees team has a much stronger resemblance to the 1999 incarnation than it does to the 2007 Rockies. The Rockies were one of the great fluke teams in major league history, with a blistering hot stretch that still barely got them the wild card. Once they faced the clearly superior Red Sox, their hot streak came to a screeching halt. The 1999 Yankees, in contrast, led the American League in victories. They were not the great team that the 1998 version was, but they still were the best team in the American League, scoring the third most runs and giving up the second fewest. The 2009 Yankees led all of baseball in wins and runs scored, and finished sixth in the American League in runs allowed. As has been said all along, the Yankees only danger is pitching, and that has held up well so far. While I would not go so far as to predict a run like the 1999 Yankees, this team is in good position for continued postseason dominance.

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One Comment on “Postseason Dominance”

  1. verdun Says:

    Actually this Yankee team compares favorably with the teams that have World Series victories over the years. The infield has arguably the best left side in Yankee history and Cano can hold his own with guys like Lazzeri, Gordon, Martin, Richardson, and Randolph. OK, Tex isn’t Gehrig, but neither is any other 1st baseman. It’s in the outfield and behind the plate where the team falls back. No Ruth, DiMaggio, Keller, Mantle or Berra available. Pitching? Well, the 30’s team might have had a better 1-2 pairing, but the depth here is pretty good and none of the others prior to 1998 has a Rivera. Don’t know if they’ll win (frankly don’t like the Yanks, but you have to acknowledge they’re good), but if they do, they’ll be as good as their predecessors.

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