2006 Yankees Still Comparing Favorably With the Great Teams in Yankees History

Elvis Elvis

With the Yankees having just completed a 6-game road trip to Boston, Tampa Bay, and Texas (going 5-1), it seems a good time to do a quick analysis of the Yankees and their run-scoring ability, their runs scored vs. runs allowed differential, and make the obligatory comparisons to the relative teams in Yankees history.

Remember, the 2006 Yankees were advertised in the pre-season as a scoring machine, a club with a legitimate chance at scoring 1,000 runs for the season, a level of run-scoring excellence which has been performed by only four previous teams in Yankees history (1930, 1931, 1932, and 1936), all teams that played during the inflated-offense era of the 1930′s.

There was also much speculation in the pre-season this year that the Yankees may not have the pitching/defense to be able to contain their opponents run production, which could off-set any big numbers posted by the offense.

So far, however, the pitching has been pretty strong. Through 29 games, in fact, the Yankees team ERA of 3.76 trails only the AL-leading ERA compiled by Detroit of 3.38. Moreover, the Yankees have made only 12 errors in 29 games, making them one of the top 4 fielding teams (statistically) in the AL. The Yankees also have scored 183 runs, the second most in the AL behind Cleveland. But the Indians have parlayed their amazing 201 runs into only a 17-15 record, so they obviously have some problems to work out.

As for the Yankees, indications are the Yankees are putting together one of the great teams in history. We know this largely because the Yankees are keeping pace statistically with the great teams of the past, as per a continuing survey of the historical data. Teams chosen for periodic comparison with the 2006 Yankees were selected because they all met the criteria of scoring at least 965 runs over a full season and having a minimum of a +300 differential in runs scored vs. runs allowed.

Teams meeting this criteria were the Yankees of 1927 (record = 110-44), 1931 (94-59), 1936 (102-51), 1937 (102-52), 1939 (106-45), and 1998 (114-48). All these great teams wound up winning the World Series, except the 1931 Yankees, a team which finished the season in second place in the 8-team AL, 13.5 games behind the Philadelphia A’s.

2006 Yankees Still Comparing Favorably With the Great Teams in Yankees History

The 1931 Yankees actually established the standing major-league record for runs scored (1,067) but gave up 760 runs, which was good enough for only third best in the AL and 134 more runs allowed than the A’s surrendered..

The Yankees in 2006 through the first 29 games have scored 183 runs, an average of 6.31 runs per game, and have allowed 118 runs, an average of 4.07 runs per game. (These stats are both up slightly since the last survey after 23 games were played.) Projected over an entire 162-game season, at the current rate of scoring and allowing runs, the Yankees would score 1,022 runs and allow 659 runs for a differential of +363 runs. The only teams in this survey to have better differentials than +363 over a full season are the 1927 Yankees (+376) and 1939 Yankees (+411).

The 1927 Yankees finished the season with 975 runs scored and 599 runs allowed for, as previously noted, a +376 differential. The 1931 Yankees finished the season with the record 1,067 runs and 760 runs allowed for a +307 differential, their downfall being unable to pitch nearly as effectively as the A’s. The 1936 Yankees finished the season scoring 1,065 runs and allowing 731 runs for a differential of +334. The 1937 Yankees scored 979 runs and allowed 671 runs for a differential of +308. The 1939 Yankees finished with 967 runs and 556 runs allowed for a differential of +411, as previously noted, the best of all the teams in this survey. The 1998 Yankees scored 965 runs and allowed 656 runs for a differential of +309.

In runs scored/runs allowed comparisons, the 1998 Yankees (as well as the Yankees in 2006) had two advantages and one disadvantage that the previous teams did not experience. First, the 1998 team played 162 games, eight more than were on the schedule played by the previously-described teams, and the increased number of games played adds runs to the runs scored total. Second, the Designated Hitter rule, implemented in 1973, helps a team score more runs than teams which had the pitcher batting in the years prior to 1973. However, the disadvantage to the more recent teams (i.e., 1998 and 2006) is that pitching/runs allowed stats since 1973 are hurt by the DH.

It also should be noted that teams in the pre-162-game schedule (i.e., prior to 1961) did not always play exactly 154 games, due to tie games, games that were not rescheduled, etc. The Yankees, for statistical purposes, actually played 155 games in 1927, 155 games in 1931, 155 games in 1936, 157 games in 1937, 152 games in 1939, and 162 games (as scheduled) in 1998.

Taking the average runs scored per game for the 1927, 1931, 1936, 1937, 1939, and 1998 Yankees, here is how the 2006 Yankees through the first 29 games stack up:
1931 6.88 runs/game
1936 6.87 runs/game
1939 6.36 runs/game
2006 6.31 runs/game
1927 6.29 runs/game
1937 6.24 runs/game
1998 5.97 runs/game

Similarly, taking the average runs allowed per game for the 1927, 1931, 1936, 1937, 1939, and 1998 Yankees, here is how the 2006 Yankees through the first 29 games stack up:
1939 3.66 runs allowed/game
1927 3.86 runs allowed/game
1998 4.05 runs allowed/game
2006 4.07 runs allowed/game
1937 4.27 runs allowed/game
1936 4.72 runs allowed/game
1931 4.90 runs allowed/game
Twenty-nine games is a small sample of a much larger season, but, as seen above, the 2006 Yankees compare favorably with other high-scoring, high-differential Yankees teams of the past.

On the Verge of a Truly Great Season

Once again, the numbers certainly suggest that the 2006 Yankees are on the verge of a truly great season. Although it will be difficult for the Yankees to maintain their current run-scoring pace and finish with 1,022 runs (to be the first Yankees team to crack 1,000 runs since 1936), it also seems like the Yankees are just getting their scoring-machine revved up. They seem to be getting 10+ hits, drawing walks by the droves, and putting 17 men on base almost every night. Their runs-per-game statistic may still be climbing.

But we’ll have to watch the runs allowed, too. There was some slippage in the just-completed, 6-game road trip when opponents averaged 4.5 runs per game against the Yankees.

We will continue keep tracking of the changing trends and historical implications periodically as the season progresses.