Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 29, 2005
BASEBALL: The Rivalry

There's a long, long history between the Hated Yankees and the Red Sox, and as any baseball fan can tell you, over that time the Yankees have tended to outplay the Sox down the stretch run, even when the two teams appear to be evenly matched.

OK, we know that. But by how much? Let's look at the numbers. I went through every season since the Yankees' 1903 arrival in New York in which both teams were in some sense still in the pennant race - i.e., both were within 10 games of first, or one was and the other was just a few games behind them - on July 31, and then compared their records from August 1 through the end of the season. Overall, that amounted to 38 seasons.

The net result? In the 38 seasons, the Sox were 2130-1676 (.560) through July 31, and the Yanks were 2190-1615 (.576). But from August 1 on, the Sox teams slowed to 1255-1070 (.540), while the Yankees heated up to 1360-968 (.584). Overall, the Yankees gained ground on the Sox, in absolute terms, 23 times, while the Sox gained ground 15 times (oddly, not once did they share the same post-August 1 record; the closest seasons were in 1904, 1948 and 2000, when the two teams were separated by a half game down the stretch). The biggest gains for the Yankees were 1952 (+14.5 games), 1985 (+13.5 games), 1937 (+12.5 games), and 1955 and 2001 (+10 games). The biggest gains for the Sox were 1973 and 1991 (+12.5 games), 1916 (+9 games), 1972 (+6.5 games), and 1949 (+6 games). The longest number of consecutive seasons in the study when the Yankees gained ground: 8, from 1934 to 1945. Longest for the Sox: 4 from 1986-91.

Of course, the Yankees, on average, started ahead. 1937 is probably the season in the study closest to the edge: the Yanks had a 9 game lead on the Sox, and were never really in any danger of not winning the pennant. Even in relative terms, though, the effect held up: the Yankees did better than the Sox relative to their winning percentage through 7/31 in 25 of 38 seasons.

Let's break the numbers out by groups of seasons:

YearsSox 7/31Yanks 7/31Sox 8/1Yanks 8/1+NY Tot
1904-16.594.580.558.556-0.5
1934-40.560.627.512.640+47.5
1944-55.562.592.537.622+39
1970-79.565.540.569.594+9
1982-95.541.534.517.510-3
1999-04.563.610.564.594+10.5
Total.560.576.540.584+103.5

Seasons in study: 1904, 1910, 1916, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1944, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1955, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:52 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)
Comments

Real interesting study.

Thanks for the time and effort of the post!

Posted by: Digtial-Derek at July 29, 2005 4:07 PM

What is the purpose of this survey? How does it factor in what the winning percentage of the teams the Yankees and Red Sox faced in the later portion of the season? If either team had an easier schedule than the other, it would be expected that a quality team in a pennant race would have a higher winning percentage than a quality team facing more formidable opponents.

Posted by: tim at July 29, 2005 4:20 PM

I'd like to see this survey factoring only those games the Yanks/Sox played with opponents .500+. I bet the results would be very different.

Posted by: Tim (again) at July 29, 2005 4:27 PM

For a less analytical approach, but far more heartfelt by Yankee and Red Sox fans alike, look back at the 1978 season: Sox up by 17.5 at the All Star break, twelve weeks later...Bucky Dent. Though in defense of the '78 Sox, the collapse was actually more of an explosion on the side of the Yankees - I think they played .700 ball in the second half.

But all that matters these days is that the Red Sox are defending a World Series title and the Yankess haven't won since Bill Clinton was president.

Was last year a turning of the tides or a fluke - like the one year the Dodgers won it back in the fifties?

Posted by: Pat Rick at August 1, 2005 6:46 PM
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