Since 1901, only 12 major league teams have reached 50 wins before losing their 18th game. This season’s Yankees just did it for the fourth time in club history, joining celebrated teams from 1928, 1939, and 1998, when they went on to win a whopping 114 games.
The 1928 team won the Yanks’ third World Series. The 1939 team won the club’s eighth. The 1998 team won its 24th.
Will the 2022 team bring a 28th world championship banner to the Bronx? Stay tuned, obviously, but this already has been a remarkable run. Still, something of a cautionary tale: The last major league team to get off to such a spectacular start was the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won 116 regular season games but just one playoff round — before losing to the Yanks.
Value is hard to find
It might be too late for a bettor to win big on a Yankees futures bet. To win the AL East, the best return as of Tuesday is -900 at FanDuel Sportsbook. They’re +220 to win the AL and +475 to win the World Series at BetRivers.
And despite their success, in a sign of the Yankees’ power to influence betting lines, faithful fans who wagered on the club all season at New York’s mobile sportsbooks wouldn’t have done all that well. Despite a 50-17 record entering Tuesday night’s play, they have gone just 36-31 against the spread, including 18-18 at home. Betting unders has actually been a bit more profitable than betting on the Yanks to cover, as the under has hit 36 times, with the over winning 30 times, to go along with one push.
Looking for other measures of this team’s dominance? The Yankees lead the league in record, run differential (+145), and home runs. The last time a Yankees club finished a season leading in all three of those categories, according to ESPN Stats and Info, was 1961, when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris combined for 17.3 WAR.
Oh yeah, Maris also hit 61 home runs that year, which was kind of a big deal at the time. Not surprisingly, he won the MVP that season. And Aaron Judge is now the clear favorite to do the same in 2022, at least in states that allow awards betting (New York does not). Judge listed at even money for AL MVP at BetRivers — with no other player shorter than +500.
The strangest thing about all of this is that the Yankees are engaged in a slow-simmering contract dispute with Judge all through this process. Judge’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, with the club arguing he should be paid $17 million and the hulking right fielder asking the arbitrator for $21 million.
Aaron Judge and the Yankees are still scheduled for their arbitration hearing tomorrow. No sign of progress in talks yet. The Yankees submitted $17M, Judge $21M.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 21, 2022
It’s not just Aaron Judge
Judge leads the majors with 25 home runs, just 11.5 short of his season over-under total, which appears to be a fait accompli barring a major injury. Only Mantle (in 1956) and Babe Ruth (in ‘28) have hit more home runs through this point of a season in club history. But this Yankees team is balanced — they’re not reliant on just one feared slugger. Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres all are on pace to hit 30 or more home runs this season, which would be the first time a foursome ever accomplished that in club history.
And hitting may not even be this team’s forté. There’s a reason the under has hit so often. The Yankees lead the majors with a 2.84 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, and a .211 batting-average-against, and only two other teams have walked fewer batters.
They’re tied with the Cleveland Guardians in defensive runs saved, one of the more respected defensive metrics. This team truly could be one of the few examples of a club without a weakness, particularly if the Yanks have solved their yearly tendency to finish among the league leaders in costly injuries.
The upshot of all this is that the Yankees are on pace to win a stunning 121 games, which would be the greatest season in MLB history. If you happen to be one of those people who bought a ticket before Opening Day on them winning more than 91.5 games, you’re feeling pretty good right about now.
Photo: Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY