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14 hours ago  ::  Nov 29, 2015 - 12:36PM #4881
Posts: 12,871

A great post by Big Guy


Yankees Home Run Title History: 1916 - 1944

Throughout their long history the Yankees have employed 12 AL HR kings who have led the league in HRs a total of 28 times. Here's a look back at the 1st 6 players to take home at least 1 crown.

They're not called the Bronx Bombers for no reason. Over the years the Yankees have had more than their fair share of home run kings. The short right field porch of Yankee Stadium in its many different forms has no doubt contributed to this, but there have been many pinstriped sluggers who could do damage in any stadium or era. Altogether, 12 Yankees have led the AL in HRs and many of them have done it multiple times. Here's a breakdown of the 1st 6 Yankees to accomplish the feat.

Wally Pipp - 1916 & 1917

Dead-ball era baseball was a much different world compared to what modern baseball fans are used to. It was a time where true "sluggers" hit 10-12 HRs per year. Pipp was one of those sluggers, earning back to back HR titles with totals of just 12 and 9 right before the birth of the live-ball era. Of course, Pipp will always be most famous for riding the pine rather than anything he did on the field. As legend has it, he jump started Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played streak when he asked out of the lineup due to a headache in June 1925 and Gehrig started in his place. Nowadays in any sport, if a star player gets injured and is replaced by someone who outperforms them, they're said to have gotten "Wally Pipped".

Babe Ruth - 1920 through 1924, 1926 through 1930, 1931 (tied with Lou Gehrig)

Babe Ruth did for the home run what Jimi Hendrix would do for the electric guitar years later. Nobody hit home runs quite like him before or ever since. When Ruth became a full time position player just prior to his sale to the Yankees he started hitting HRs at astronomical rates. In the early 1920's his yearly totals would often exceed the home run output of entire teams. He led the AL in HRs every year from the time he was 24 years old until he was 36, save for 2 injury plagued seasons in 1922 and 1925. With 7 championship rings (four with the Yankees) to his name, The Babe proved that the quickest and most efficient path to success in baseball was through the almighty long ball.

Bob Meusel - 1925

The tall, skinny outfielder nicknamed Long Bob took advantage of one of Babe Ruth's injury plagued seasons mentioned above to take home the AL home run title with 33 dingers in 1925. What's more impressive, Meusel was the 1st of only 3 right handed Yankees in their history to earn that honor and he did it at a time when the left field power alley was well over 400 feet away in Yankee Stadium. Outside of 1925 he wasn't much of a HR hitter, although he was an integral part of the Yankee lineup for the entirety of the 1920's. He consistently hit for a high average and was a charter member of the infamous Murderer's Row lineup in 1927.

Lou Gehrig - 1931 (tied with Babe Ruth), 1934, & 1936

The Iron Horse spent a good chunk of his career in the shadow of Babe Ruth. Combine that with the fact that he fell just short of the major Hall of Fame milestones with 493 career HRs and 2,721 hits and it's possible that one of the greatest hitters in major league history is actually underrated. He reached his career high for HRs with 49 twice and each time was good enough for the league lead. If it wasn't for his hefty teammate slugging HRs in front of him in the lineup he could have racked up many more HR crowns. For 4 straight years from 1927 through 1930 Gehrig finished 2nd to The Bambino in long balls, eclipsing the 40 HR mark twice along the way.

Joe DiMaggio - 1937 & 1948

DiMaggio is one of the rare right handed sluggers in Yankee history. At just 22 years old he went deep a career high 46 times in 1937 which was good enough for the league lead. It would also stand as the Yankees' record for a righty for nearly 70 years. After a 9 year gap he again took home the AL HR title with 39 for a team that was about to embark on a run of 5 straight World Series wins. Had he not missed 3 years of his prime due to military service during World War II, DiMaggio may have done even more damage on the AL leaderboards. Despite missing those years, he still stands as one of the greatest HR hitters in Yankee history.

Nick Etten - 1944

When the US joined the Allies during World War II, DiMaggio wasn't the only superstar who sacrificed his baseball career to serve overseas. Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Hank Greenberg among many others also traded their baseball uniforms for camouflage. This gave solid, if unspectacular, players like Nick Etten the chance to shine. Etten served as the Yankees everyday 1st basemen during the war years and nearly all of his career's significant contributions occurred during this time. He finished in the top 10 in HRs each year from 1943 through 1945 and the big lefty's 22 big flies in 1944 led the American League. When the war ended Etten's career fizzled out but his unusual place in the Yankee record books is secure.

14 hours ago  ::  Nov 29, 2015 - 12:42PM #4882
Posts: 12,871

Yankees hitting coach Alan Cockrell believes Dustin Ackley's September success can carry into 2016

11/25/2015 10:27 AM ET

By Lou DiPietro

Dustin Ackley had a .694 slugging percentage in the final few weeks of 2015.(AP)

Newly-promoted New York Yankees hitting coach Alan Cockrell knows a thing or two about Dustin Ackley, and also a thing or two about the specter of high expectations.

On the latter, Cockrell was an All-American at Tennessee before the San Francisco Giants made him the 9th overall pick in the 1984 MLB Draft, and while he rocketed all the way to Triple-A by Opening Day 1987, it would take almost a decade for him to reach the next level.

Cockrell spent 10 seasons in Triple-A with 5 different organizations, and wouldn't make his MLB debut until September 7, 1996, with Colorado; he played his final game less than a month later, and all the expectations ended with 2 career hits in 9 major-league games and a .278 average in 13 minor-league seasons - while the guy picked right after him, USC first baseman Mark McGwire, bashed 583 HRs in a 16-year career worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.

So, when the untrained eye perhaps saw Dustin Ackley, a .243 career hitter with a .215 average in 2015, as a reclamation project when the Yankees acquired him from Seattle in July, Cockrell saw opportunity. And, after just a couple of batting practice sessions in pinstripes, Cockrell and then-Yankees hitting coach Jeff Pentland saw that maybe there was a mechanical issue behind the swoon in Seattle.

"He was coming off his back side going out to get the baseball, and it's tough to hit when you've got something coming at you 95 (miles per hour) and you're going towards it," Cockrell said earlier this month. "Pent and I saw this pretty much the first BP session, and we were in agreement; we were going to get him to stay on his back side a little bit longer and stay behind the ball a little bit more."

Right after being acquired, Ackley missed about 5 weeks because of a back injury, but once he returned, he hit .288 with a .654 slugging percentage in the season's final month, smacking 4 HRs, 3 doubles, and 2 triples among his 15 hits and driving in 11 runs to boot.

Small sample size, maybe, but to Cockrell, it's a small sample of what could come in 2016 and beyond.

"I think the biggest thing we saw was the need to stabilize his movement going forward, keeping him behind the ball a little bit and giving him some room to let the hands get the barrel to the ball," Cockrell said, "and he literally got it in one or two cage sessions."

As far as knowing Ackley, Pentland was the Mariners' hitting coach when Dustin was drafted in 2009, and while they never officially worked together in the majors, the coach got a good 1st impression.

"He came to Safeco and took BP, and although he wasn't a very big guy in stature, he could impact the baseball, and he was in a good position behind the ball," Cockrell said. "He had good hands and used the whole field, and the ball comes off his bat with a little different sound for a guy his size."

Heading into 2016, the Yankees seem willing to employ some form of a platoon between Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at 2nd base next season, but given his new outlook and the fact that he's a lefty hitter in Yankee Stadium, don't be surprised if Ackley plays his way into the lineup at some position every day.

Cockrell won't.

"He was able to actually be in a position to let his skills play," Cockrell said of Ackley's final month, "and when that started to happen, he was a big bat for us."

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