To begin here, I feel it is appropriate to share some statistical context of where the 2006 Yankees place in terms of all teams in the “Joe Torre’s Yankees” era. To this end, I decided to use Runs Created Above Average (RCAA) and Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA).
Runs Created Above Average (RCAA) is a Lee Sinins creation. It is the difference between a team’s Runs Created total and the total for an average team who used the same amount of outs. (A negative Runs Created Above Average indicates a below average team in this category.)
And, Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA) is another Lee Sinins creation. It is the amount of runs that a pitching staff saved versus what an average staff would have allowed. It is similar to the statistic Pitching Runs detailed in the book Total Baseball – except (1) both have different ways of park adjustments and (2) Total Baseball added a procedure to take into account the amount of decisions the staff had while Runs Saved Above Average does not. (A negative Runs Saved Above Average indicates a below average pitching staff in this category.)
Using the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, we can look at the RCAA and RSAA totals for each Yankees team, to date, under Torre:
As you can see, the 2006 Yankees were the best offensive team to ever play for Joe Torre. But, on the flip side, the 2006 Yankees – while almost near a league average mark of zero RSAA – were lacking in the pitching department compared to all other Torre Yankees squads (sans the 2004 Yankees pitching unit which was terrible).
Still, a team is the sum of its parts – and should be viewed in its synergistic state. Therefore, I’ve decided to give each RSAA and RCAA “score” (for the Bombers teams under Torre) a “ranking” in terms of where they fell compared to the other squads in this study – and then I took an average of the RSAA and RCAA ranks to come up with an overall “Torre Team Rating” (for lack of a better title). Here are the results:
The above chart suggests that the 1998 Yankees were the most overall talented team under Torre and the 2004 Yankees had the worst overall talent (all things considered) in terms of comparing Torre teams to Torre teams. I think most Yankees fans would agree with the statement about the 1998 Yankees. And, seeing the 2004 Yankees in this light makes you wonder how they got as far as they did that season.
This chart also suggests that, of all the Torre Yankees teams not to win a ring, the 2006 Yankees were probably the 3rd best overall squad – based mostly on the dominance of their offense – behind the teams from 2002 and 1997.
Seeing all this adds a new level of thought in regard to something I heard Joe Torre say during a WFAN interview on October 10, 2006. Torre said (that day, on the air) that the loss of the 2006 ALDS was worse to take than the loss in the 2004 ALCS because his team was competitive in the 2004 ALCS. Perhaps he should have added that the loss in the 2006 ALDS was worse to take than the loss in the 2004 ALCS because his team in 2006 had more overall talent than his teams from 2004 and 2005? If Joe had said that, I would agree with him – seeing the stats now.
The 2006 Yankees were the big offensive steam engine with a near league average pitching caboose who should have never wondered about whether they “can” make it up the hill – and, yet, in the end, they derailed. So, what happened?
The best way to tell is via retrospective dissection. And, thanks to The Pride and the Pressure – A Season Inside the New York Yankee Fishbowl by Michael Morrissey (288 pages, Doubleday Books) we now have the definitive chronicle of the 2006 New York Yankees – breaking both the team and the season down, part by part.
In “The Pride and the Pressure,” Morrissey provides insight to specific key 2006 Yankees via chapters devoted to them. These parties include Johnny Damon, Brian Cashman, Mike Mussina, Bernie Williams, Joe Torre, George Steinbrenner, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Carl Pavano, and Melky Cabrera. In addition, Morrissey also provides chapters on Yankees Old-Timers view of the current Yankees landscape, the 2006 coaching staff, the Yankees August five-game sweep of the Sox in Fenway, the 2006 ALDS, and the Yankees off-season of 2006-07. There is also a chapter in “The Pride and the Pressure” which is centered on “Jeter/A-Rod.”
I found each of these chapters in “The Pride and the Pressure” to be revealing and therefore entertaining.
Did you know that Derek Jeter’s nickname for Jorge Posada is “Sado”? Did you know that Brian Cashman once said, when the Boston Red Sox lost catcher Jason Varitek to injury, that “He’s one of the best you’ll ever see, As a catcher who controls every pitch thrown on their side, you’re gonna feel his loss”? Or, did you know that Jason Giambi once referred to Alex Rodriguez as a “glutton for punishment”?
I never knew about Posada’s nickname, Cashman’s admiration for Varitek, or Giambi’s assessment of A-Rod – before I read “The Pride and the Pressure.”
But, those are small, tidbit, type facts. In addition to those types of things that you will find in “The Pride and the Pressure,” you will receive confirmation on bigger ticket items – such as, but not limited to, why Jason Giambi is so well liked by those on and around the team, or, how Mike Mussina has grown into being a team leader on the Yankees.
And, perhaps, most importantly, in reading “The Pride and the Pressure,” you will learn for certain how both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have traits that are detrimental to the overall harmony of the team (unless they are willing to change).
In a nutshell, Morrissey’s book provides everything that you need to know about the 2006 Yankees – with no holds barred. The Pride and the Pressure – A Season Inside the New York Yankee Fishbowl is a must read for Yankees fans and an excellent source of information for anyone wishing to know more about what it’s like to play professional baseball in the Bronx Zoo circa 2006. Therefore, I highly recommend this book.