AL East Race: Ten Reasons the New York Yankees Need the Division More Than Tampa Bay
Last Monday, the Yankees visited the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. for one of the most anticipated series in the 2010 season.
The race has been tightly packed all season, with no team leading by more 2 1/2 games since July 26.
In the last five days, there have been three flip-flops for the division lead. With another four game set about to happen between these two teams in Yankee Stadium, you can expect the seesaw to keep on tilting.
One team will come away with the division, and it will be by a very small margin. Here are 10 reasons why the Yankees need the division more than Tampa Bay.
Yankees Have a Worse Road Record
Made evident by the recent 1-5 slump the Yankees went through in Texas and Tampa, the Yankees are much more comfortable playing at home.
Their winning percentage in the Stadium is over 100 points higher than on the road.
The Yankees have a combined .242 batting average when hitting at Texas, Minnesota and Tampa, the three teams they are most likely to face.
That is significantly worse than their .281 batting average at home.
CC Sabathia Is Worse on the Road
Yankees ace CC Sabathia will be pitching the ever-so important Game 1 in the playoffs. If the Yankees fail to win the AL East, CC will be pitching on the road as opposed to at home if they win the division.
Sabathia is a completely different pitcher on the road. Although his 3.48 ERA on the road is still above average, it does not compare to his 2.56 ERA at home this season.
Phil Hughes Is Better on the Road
If the Yankees fail to win the division, Game 4 will be at home, and Phil Hughes would likely be the pitcher in that game.
Unlike Sabathia, Hughes is a much better pitcher on the road. He has a dismal 4.88 ERA this year at home, and a much better 3.52 ERA on the road.
ALCS Game 7 Would Be on the Road
If the Yankees do not win the AL East, and they make it to the ALCS, they would be playing Game 7 on the road.
Since the Rays are likely to make it to the ALCS, the Yankees would love to avoid going there especially in a Game 7 situation.
Going to Texas and Minnesota for a Game 7 would also not be a desirable situation.
Yankees Are Much Less Dominant on the Road
The Yankees, having the best record in Major League Baseball, are one of the most dominating teams in all of baseball.
At home, they represent that mold with the second most runs scored in the league, only surpassed by the Rockies.
However, on the road, they become much less dominating, with five teams ahead of them in runs scored, including Tampa Bay.
The Rays Are Also Worse on the Road
The Rays are the team that the Yankees want to avoid, should they make it to the second round.
If the Yankees beat out the Rays in the division, the Rays will be the ones without home-field advantage.
That would increase their chances of being knocked out, considering they give up on average almost a full run more when they are on the road.
Cliff Lee Is Worse on the Road
If the Yankees win the division, they will likely play the Rangers, and Cliff Lee would pitch either Game 1 or 2 which would be at Yankee Stadium.
On the road, Lee has a 8.20 SO/BB ratio, which is over twice as bad as his 16.80 SO/BB ratio this season at home.
The Rangers and Twins Are Much Worse Teams in Yankee Stadium
With Game 1 being the most important game in the playoffs, the Yankees want to jump on whoever they are playing early.
If the Yankees win the division, Game 1 will likely be the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. This season, the Rangers are batting a dismal .181 at Yankee Stadium, as opposed to their .291 batting average at home.
If the Yankees play the Twins, they would have the same advantage. The Twins his .253 at Yankee Stadium, as opposed to .286 at home.
The Rays Would Rather See the Rangers Than The Twins
Again, the Yankees want the Rays to lose in the first round. If the Yankees beat the Rays in the division, the Rays would likely play the Twins in the first round, not the Rangers.
The Rays, on average, score two runs less against the Twins as opposed to the Rangers. That would decrease their chances of moving on to the second round.
A-Rod Is Considerably Better at Home
The key to the Yankees championship in 2009 was Alex Rodriguez, and it will likely be that way again in 2010.
Considering that, the Yankees want to play as many games as they can at home, where A-Rod hits .294 with a .525 slugging percentage.
On the road, however, he hits .254 with a .485 slugging percentage.