Comparing the 1998 Yankees to the 2018 Yankees

The 1998 MLB season was one of the best seasons that I, as a baseball fan can remember. There was the historic nightly home run derby with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire, who were both chasing the single season home run record. A lot of people may forget, but 1998 also allowed us to witness a team posting an amazing record, for the first time since 1906 when the Chicago Cubs won 116 games.

The 1998 Yankees were a historic team, winning 114 regular season games. They also went 11-2 in the post season, en route to a World Series Championship by sweeping the San Diego Padres in 4 games. That team had a never quit attitude, and I can see glimpses on that team 20 years later in the 2018 Yankees.

If you had watched the 2018 Yankees through the first 40 games of the season, it seems like something glaringly stands out. When the Yankees are playing the nest teams in the league, they play really well, and when they play the teams in the bottom half of the league, they don’t seem to see as sharp.

When they Yankees play teams over .500 so far this season they have posted a 17-6 record. When they play teams under .500 this season they have a record of 11-6. This leads to a winning percentage of .739 versus teams over .500 and a winning percentage of .647 when the team is under .500. It may seem like those records should be flipped around, but that is not the case.

If the Yankees keep on their current track, optimistically improving against teams under .500, they are looking to easily eclipse the 100 win mark, for the first time since 2009, when they last won the World Series. As of the end of play on May 13, the Yankees are on pace to win 113.4 games this season. Technically that is only .6 games behind that 1998 historic season, but we all know you can’t win half a game.

To look into the teams even closer, I looked at the key positions from the 1998 and the 2018 Yankees. It is hard to compare the two teams to get a definite answer as to which squad you would rather take, but it is fun to take a look at. I did not list out the entire roster, even though it takes the entire 25, or 40 man roster to win games. I just tried to keep it to the regular starters, the starting rotation, and the closer.

Position 1998 2018
Catcher Jorge Posada Gary Sanchez
First Base Tino Martinez Neil Walker
Second Base Chuck Knoblauch Gleyber Torres
Short Stop Derek Jeter Didi Gregorius
Third Base Scott Brocius Miguel Andujar
Left Field Chad Curtis Brett Gardner
Center Field Bernie Williams Aaron Hicks
Right Field Paul O’Neill Aaron Judge
Designated Hitter Darryl Strawberry Giancarlo Stanton
Starting Pitcher Orlando Hernandez Luis Severino
Starting Pitcher Andy Pettitte Masahio Tanaka
Starting Pitcher Hideki Irabu Sonny Gray
Starting Pitcher David Cone CC Sabathia
Starting Pitcher David Wells Jordan Montgomery/Domingo German
Closer Mariano Rivera Aroldis Champman

So, this could be a memorable season for the Yankees. I’m not saying that they are going to set a franchise record for wins during the regular season, but this team could definitely be memorable. The 1998 Yankees had lost the World Series the year before so they had something to prove, while the 2018 Yankees came off a loss in the American League Championship Series, after a hard fought 7 game battle, so they as well have something to prove. In 1998 the Yankees were overshadowed by the home run chase, and this year I don’t see the team being overshadowed by anything. It seems like the Yankees and Red Sox are going to be battling all season for the American League East title. Only time will tell what is in store for us this year, but either way, its going to be a fun season for fans of the New York Yankees.

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