There is a long held perception that the teams who win in the playoffs are generally the hottest teams, and not necessarily the 'best' ones. It feels like a very true statement and even Derek Jeter once said “The best teams make the postseason, but the hottest team wins the championship.”
However being the hottest team is not always obvious. In fact some teams may not even catch fire until they actually begin playing in those playoffs.
Take last year's champions the San Francisco Giants... They finished the year 4-6. They weren't lighting the world on fire until very close to the end. They went 4-1 in their last 5 games and the rest is history. It didn't take them long to get hot.
The year before, the Red Sox finished 5-5. in 2012 the Giants also finished up 5-5, and in 2011 the Cardinals went 6-4.
Of course every situation, team, and season are different. But I see and hear a lot of people pointing to the Yankees as a broken down team that has cooled off and has no chance in the playoffs. They point to poor performances as the season wraps up. There is some truth to that, but a team can catch fire at any moment, much like the last few World Series champions did at the very end of the season and beginning of the playoffs. To use a bad cliche, the playoffs are a whole new ballgame. The Yankees have just as much of a chance at turning on the jets as anyone else...
They may not be the best team, but they can still become the hottest.