Jun 7, 2022 - Sports

Yankees off to one of MLB's best starts in decades

MLB's best 54-game starts and how those teams finished the season
Data: Baseball Reference; Table: Axios Visuals

The New York Yankees are off to one of MLB's best starts in decades, sitting at 39-15 exactly one-third of the way through the season.

Why it matters: They're just the fifth team since 1985 to win 39 of their first 54 games and are just three games off the pace of the 2001 Mariners, who won an MLB record-tying 116 games.

  • Two of the previous four teams won the World Series (1998 Yankees, 2016 Cubs). The 2001 Mariners lost in the ALCS, while the 1998 Braves lost in the NLCS.
  • The red-hot Yanks are 6-0 in their last six games, 10-2 in their last 12 games and 32-9 in their last 41 games.

By the numbers: The Yankees' success has been driven by their MLB-best rotation, which has gone atomic during their current six-game win streak (four total earned runs). On the season, all five rank in the top 14 among the AL's ERA leaders.

  • Nestor Cortes (5-1): 1.50 ERA (1st), 0.87 WHIP, 68 K/15BB, 2.6 WAR
  • Jameson Taillon (6-1): 2.30 ERA (8th), 0.90 WHIP, 44K/5BB, 2.0 WAR
  • Gerrit Cole (5-1): 2.78 ERA (11th), 0.96 WHIP, 81K/15BB, 1.6 WAR
  • Luis Severino (4-1): 2.95 ERA (13th), 1.00 WHIP, 61K/14BB, 1.2 WAR
  • Jordan Montgomery (1-1): 3.02 ERA (14th), 1.01 WHIP, 46K/10BB, 1.1 WAR

Plus: The rest of the team has been lights out, too.

  • Bullpen: Righties Michael King and Clay Holmes rank first and second, respectively, in WAR among relievers.
  • Offense: They've hit an MLB-best 80 home runs led by Aaron Judge's 21, which is five more than any other big leaguer.
  • Fielding: New York's .990 fielding percentage is second only to San Diego (.992).

Between the lines: The only team the Yankees don't have a winning record against so far is the Rays (2-2).

  • Yes, but: They've had a fairly easy schedule, going 17-5 against the cellar-dwelling Orioles, Tigers and Royals and 14-5 against the middle-of-the-pack Angels, White Sox, Rangers, Guardians and Red Sox.
  • Going forward, they have the eighth-toughest schedule, with 36 games against the Rays, Jays, Astros and Mets, plus 16 against the suddenly surging Red Sox, who always play tough against their rivals.

The big picture: This historic start has generated an undeniable buzz among one of the proudest fan bases in sports, which finds itself in a rare position: starving for a title.

  • Given their record 27 rings, it's easy to forget the Yankees haven't even been to a World Series in 13 years. In fact, the 2010s were just the second decade since the 1910s they failed to win one (1980s).
  • But this year, their combination of homegrown talent (Judge, Severino), shrewd trades (Holmes, Taillon) and free-agency hauls (Cole, DJ LeMahieu) has them dreaming big.

The bottom line: The Yankees are no strangers to historic seasons, and their 2022 campaign has the feel of another classic.

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