Bad Yankees starts over the years: Putting their 5-10 record in historical perspective

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Scott Thompson
·3 min read
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Aaron Judge disappointed gray jersey
Aaron Judge disappointed gray jersey

Following the Yankees' rough weekend getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, you may have seen a stat surfacing that this 5-10 start is the worst the team has had since 1997.

New York is notorious for being a menace to opponents right from the outset, and that was true last season in the shortened campaign when they ripped off a seven-game winning streak to immediately set the tone for a playoff-bound year. At the 15-game point in 2020, the Yankees were 10-5.

So what has happened to Yankees teams in the past that have started off close to that 5-10 record they are at now?

We went back as far as the 1970 season, a year where the Bombers had the same record after 15 contests, and made our way to now to get a feel for how those seasons went.

Here were the results:

- 2019 (6-9 start): Yankees finish 103-59 to win AL East title. New York falls to Houston Astros in Game 6 of ALCS.

- 2016 (6-9 start): Yankees finish fourth in AL East with 84-78 record.

- 2005 (6-9 start): Yankees finish first in AL East with 95-67 record. Lost to Los Angeles Angels in ALDS.

- 1997 (5-10 start): Yankees earn Wild Card with 96-66 record, but lose to Indians in ALDS.

New York Yankees pitcher David Cone (36) in action against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium.
New York Yankees pitcher David Cone (36) in action against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium.

- 1991 (6-9 start): Yankees end up fifth in AL East with 71-91 record.

- 1989 (6-9 start): Once again, Yanks finish fifth in AL East with 74-87 record.

- 1985 (6-9 start): Yankees regroup and go 97-64, but don't make the playoffs after finishing second in AL East, two games behind a playoff berth.

- 1982 (6-9 start): Yankees can't pick it up, going 79-83 to finish fifth.

- 1973 (6-9 start): Yankees wind up two games under .500, finishing 80-82 for fourth place.

- 1972 (5-10 start): 79-76 record is good for fourth in another mediocre season.

- 1970 (5-10 start): Yankees rally throughout the season, going 93-69. But a second-place finish results in no playoff berth.

***

So the general takeaway from the research shows the bad starts have had varying ultimate results.

But if there is any sort of similarity, it's the talent level on teams that bounced back and did well compared to those that stayed down throughout the season.

Take '97 for example. Should a team with Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, David Cone, Andy Pettitte, Wade Boggs, Paul O'Neill and others go 5-10 to start a season? No.

Even in '85, Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly, Willie Randolph, Dave Winfield, Ron Guidry and others didn't think they would go 6-9 right away.

The Yankees this season shouldn't be performing this way, and history shows that has happened in the past. They can -- and have -- bounced back to thrust themselves into the playoff race.

New York just needs to make sure it isn't too late when they do so. Maybe it'll start Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves.