The old saying about America’s Memorial Day in baseball is that it is the first time you have been “allowed” to view the leaderboards and leaderboards, if you are a fan. If you’re really in charge of a team, the date serves as a milestone on the season’s schedule, when harsh opinions about the roster you’ve built begin to form.
Well, it’s been 10 days since that date, and so what does all this tell us about the New York Yankees? I guess it depends on your perspective.
Aficionados: this team’s offense sucks. He’s scoring less than four runs a game and is in the bottom five of the game. It’s awful. Who made this mess?
The people who really made this mess: We are better than this.
The latter is paraphrased, but it sums up New York’s brain trust’s approach thus far, which is to tout the performance records of the hitters they’ve put together and suggest that the season will be rescued for the good kind of throwback they expect.
The point is that both perspectives are correct.
The record was solid enough to generate a forecast in my system of 97 wins for the Yankees, the second-highest total in baseball behind the Dodgers. But as the 2021 data comes in and we lean into the middle third of the season, that projection has been steadily dropping. Even after the Yankees defeated the hapless Minnesota for the second night in a row on Wednesday, the prediction has dropped to 89.
That’s not a disastrous possibility, of course, so it’s too early for New York fans to dismiss the season. That’s true even as messages from general manager Brian Cashman and his manager, Aaron Boone, are drowned out by cries for change, which have grown louder and louder. Still, whether it’s the performance of the current roster or the names in the roster or the name of the one who makes up that roster, something has to change. And with perhaps 17 races in two nights at Target Field, that change is already underway.
To understand how likely it is that the Yankees can still become the team we thought they were, we need to understand where they have fallen short. Yes, it is about the offense, but the canvas is bigger than that.
So let’s try to be a little more focused and a little more specific by offering five numbers that illustrate what is broken in the Bronx and how (or if) it can be fixed.