The old saw about Memorial Day in baseball is that it's the first time you're "allowed" to look at the standings and leaderboards, if you're a fan. If you actually run a team, the date serves as a milestone on the season calendar, when hard opinions about the roster you've constructed start to be formed.
Well, we're 10 days past Memorial Day, so what does all of this say about the New York Yankees? I guess it depends on your perspective.
Fans: This team's offense stinks. It's scoring fewer than four runs per game and ranks in the game's bottom five. It's horrendous. Who put this mess together?
The people who actually put this mess together: We are better than this.
The latter is a paraphrase, but it sums up the approach so far by New York's brain trust, which is to tout the performance records of the hitters they've assembled and suggest that the season will be rescued by the good kind of regression to the mean.
The thing is, both perspectives are right.
The track records were strong enough to generate a forecast in my system of 97 wins for the Yankees, the second-highest total in baseball behind the Dodgers. But as the 2021 data rolls in and we lean into the middle third of the season, that projection has been steadily falling. Even after the Yankees thumped hapless Minnesota for a second straight night on Wednesday, it has fallen to 89.
That's not a disastrous outlook, of course, so it's far too early for New York fans to write off the season. That's true even as the messages from general manager Brian Cashman and his manager, Aaron Boone, are drowned out by the howls for change, which have become increasingly shrill. Still, whether it's the performance of the current roster or the names in the lineup or the name of the one making out that lineup, something has got to change. And perhaps with 17 runs in two nights at Target Field, that change is already underway.
To understand how likely it is that the Yankees can still become the team we thought they were, we need to understand just where they've fallen short. Yes, it's offense, but that's a large canvas.
So let us try to be a little more targeted and a little more specific by offering five numbers that illustrate what's broken in the Bronx, and how (or if) it can be repaired.