The 2009 world champions were 24-17 after 41 games, which is a .585 winning percentage. That team finished the season at 103-59 for a .636 percentage. The Boston Red Sox were a poor second, eight games behind the Yankees.
The 2005 Yankees had an identical record after 41 games as this year’s team. Those Yankees finished with 95 wins, which tied the Red Sox for first place. But the Yankees won the division because they held the tie-breaker.
This season, a team that wins 95 games will make the playoffs. But that might not be enough to win the division. The Yankees may find it difficult to win 95 games this year, as that means playing .586 ball.
How real are the Baltimore Orioles? Remember what happened to the Yankees when Buck Showalter took over as manager? The Birds have faded rapidly after a good start recently.
The Tampa Bay Rays always play better than they should. They have solid pitching and Joe Madden as their manager. They are not going away.
Neither are the Toronto Blue Jays—especially if Mr. Bautista starts to resemble the player the Blue Jays had the last two seasons.
The Yankees—without Mariano Rivera, with a Mark Teixeira having health issues, with A-Rod doing poorly and with a questionable starting rotation—stand an excellent chance of becoming one of the wild cards.
The 2012 team has too many question marks and not enough positive answers. Their 21-20 record is no reason for pessimism. The fact that the offense might be suffering from more than a slump and the pitching is not good is why realism is needed.