The New York Yankees won 85 games last year, playing much of the season with a make-shift lineup, getting little help from their staff ace. In an attempt to get back to the playoffs New York has added several big names, with big salaries, and some risk, with age and injury.
The Yanks play in the toughest division in baseball, home of the defending World Series champions and three other teams that could all at the very least finish at .500 or above. How will New York fare against its season win total this year?
The Number to Beat
With a week to go before the Yanks opened the season in Houston April 1 the best wins OVER bet we could find was at 86.5 (+106) at Bookmaker, while the best Yankees UNDER bet was at 87 (-130) at 5Dimes.
New York won 85 games last year, and it's almost hard to figure how they pulled that off.
Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson combined to miss over 500 games last year, leaving the Yanks with guys like Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds and Eduardo Nunez to pick up the slack. They couldn't do it.
CC Sabathia posted the worst ERA of his career.
And the bullpen, outside of the now-departed Great Rivera, was a middlin' group, at best.
When all was said and done the Yankees had landed exactly upon the win total they were pegged with during the pre-season, 85. Boy, those bookmakers know what they're doing, don't they?
By the numbers New York ranked 16th in the Majors last year in scoring at 4.0 runs per game, 23rd in team OBP at an un-Yankee-like .307 and 22nd in homers with 144, while the pitching staff ranked 18th with a 3.94 ERA and 17th in quality starts with 84.
Since then New York has said good-bye to, among others, Granderson, Rivera, 2B Robinson Cano and SP Andy Pettitte.
In an effort to remedy the situation the Yankees did what the Yankees have done since the day George took over 40 years ago; they threw money around like drunken Democrats.
First they added former Atlanta C Brian McCann; then came OFs Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury; and finally, they imported SP Masahiro Tanaka from Japan.
Add it up and those four guys will make $75 million this year.
But will the Yankees be any better?
This Year's Competition
New York plays in the toughest division in baseball.
Boston just won the World Series again; Tampa Bay made the playoffs again last year; Baltimore won 85 games, and is looking for more; and while Toronto turned out to be a bust last season, after adding a bunch of veteran talent, the Jays have a good chance to improve this season.
Last year the Yankees went 37-39 in divisional play. Let's say they go 40-36 within the AL East this year. That means they'll still have to go 48-38 against everybody else to get to 88 victories.
Yankees 2014 Wins: Over or Under?
On paper, New York could win the World Series. A lineup that could go Ellsbury-Jeter-Beltran-Soriano-Teixeira-McCann could be very dangerous, and a rotation that starts off with Sabathia-Kuroda-Tanaka and a healthy Michael Pineda could be tough to deal with.
But instead of getting younger, an old Yankee team is still old, and susceptible to injury. How much will Jeter play this year, and will he be effective? Beltran is 37. Ellsbury is already dealing with sore leg this spring. Who knows how healthy Teixeira will be? What does Soriano have left in the tank? Can CC bounce back? How big a factor will Tanaka be? And can they replace Rivera?
That's a lot of uncertainty for a team that's got to win 88 games to go OVER its win total.
So instead, we'll go UNDER 87 wins on the Yankees this season.