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3 years ago  ::  Dec 21, 2019 - 7:22PM #41
Posts: 25,332

The Yankees Way? A Brief Look At How The Championship Were Built, Pt. 3: 1932

In this article, we continue to look at how each of the Yankees’ championship teams were assembled. This article, focusing just on the 1932 team, is part three in this series.

Here are the previous installments of this series:

A Brief Look At How The Championship Teams Were Built, Pt. 1: 1921-23

A Brief Look At How The Championship Teams Were Built, Pt. 2: 1926-28

The statistics I will share in this exercise are the typical counting stats of the time - batting average/home runs/runs batted in (and for pitchers, wins, losses, ERA). These will serve as a quick guide to see how that player performed over those years. (I used to determine all these stats and the transaction data.)

Please note that this is not an exhaustive study, it is only a start. More and deeper research is welcome.


The Third Successful Period (or Year) - 1932

1932: First Place (107-47) 13.0 games over second place Philadelphia. Defeated the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. (This was the year of the Babe’s Called Shot.)

From 1929 to 1935, the Yankees finished in first place once (1932) second place five times (1929, 1931, 1933-35), and in third place once (1930). Imagine, just imagine if there were expanded playoffs and Wild Cards back then… It’s tough saying that 1932 was their only “successful” year, but for this series, we’re just looking at the championship teams.

The Players:

Catcher - Bill Dickey – The Hall of Famer was discovered playing semi-pro ball after graduation from high school by Little Rock (Southern Association) manager Lena Blackburne. Little Rock had a working agreement with the Chicago White Sox. As Dickey moved through the “system” he was inexplicably waived after the 1927 season, and the Yankees were right there to claim him. Dickey played in 108 games in 1932 batting .310/15/84.

First Base - In 1932, Lou Gehrig was in his prime. A Yankee through-and-through, possibly New York City’s greatest sports star, Gehrig hit .349/34/151 in 1932. Yeah, just a typical year for the Iron Horse.

Second Base - Future Hall-of-Famer Tony Lazzeri was also in his prime in 1932 putting up a .300/15/113 season. Lazzeri was purchased by the Yankees from the Salt Lake City Bees of the Pacific Coast League for the rights to two players and $50,000. Other teams had been interested in Lazzeri, but his medical history (Lazzeri has epilepsy) scared some away. Still, the $50,000 price was huge in those days. This could be considered the equivalent of a free agent signing today, or not. I am going to let the reader decide. As noted in the first installments of this series, times were different in regard to acquiring players in this time and the minor leagues were not operated as they are today. (We will see a similar dynamic with Joe DiMaggio in a later installment.) It is fair to say that it was the huge expenditure by the club that brought Tony Lazzeri to the Yankees.

Shortstop - Frank Crosetti (.241/5/57) was the Yankees’ shortstop in 1932. This was the rookie season for this life-long Yankee who played until 1948 and then was a Yankees coach…seemingly forever. As a player/coach, Frank Crosetti earned 17 World Series rings. Crosetti was purchased from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League for $75,000 and three players.

Third Base - Hall-of-Famer Joe Sewell closed out his fourteen year career with three seasons in the Bronx (1931-33). Known as a player who rarely struck out, Sewell hit .272/11/68 in 1932. (He struck out only three times in 503 at bats that year.) Sewell was released by the Cleveland Indians after the 1930 season. Four days later he signed with the Yankees as a free agent. Yup, a big free agent signing. Sewell was, after all, a lifetime .320 hitter at the time. Ok, truth be told, back then free agency wasn’t the same thing as it is today. In 1930, Joe Sewell earned $14,500 for Cleveland. He signed with the Yankees for $10,000.

Left Field - The primary left fielder in 1932 was Ben Chapman (although Earle Combs and Babe Ruth played there quite a bit as well). Chapman hit .299/10/107. This was the only season between 1930 and 1934 that he failed to hit .300. Chapman also led the league in stolen bases. Chapman was signed by the Yankees. He’d be considered a home grown player, without question.

Center Field - Earle Combs, the future Hall-of-Famer, patrolled center for this championship squad hitting .321/9/65. Combs began his career in 1924 and would spend the entirety of it with the Yankees (until 1935). Like others, he came from a minor league team, Louisville, in a trade for a player and, cash - $50,000.

Right Field - In a statistical quirk, Ben Chapman played more games than Babe Ruth in left field (83 to 44) AND right field (88 to 87), but for all intents and purposes, the right fielder was the Bambino. 1932 was George Herman Ruth’s last truly great season. He hit .341/41/137. He then called a shot (supposedly) in the 1932 World Series, but that’s a story for another day. We all know how Babe Ruth came to the Yankees…

Main Pitchers:

Red Ruffing: The longtime Yankee ace and future Hall-of-Famer was acquired from Boston for journeyman outfielder Cedric Durst and $50,000, along with a $50,000 loan from Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert to the Red Sox. Ruffing pitched to a 18-7, 3.09 record in 1932.

Lefty Gomez: Also a future Hall-of-Famer, Lefty Gomez was purchased from the San Francisco Seals for $35,000. He was 24-7, 4.21 in 1932.

George Pipgras - Although Pipgras spent his first 8+ Major League seasons in the Bronx (1923-24, 1927-33), he was originally acquired in a trade with the Red Sox that involved cash going from the Yankees to Boston. Pipgras went 16-9, 4.19 in 1932.

Johnny Allen - Allen was a solid pitcher in 1932, his rookie season, going 17-3, 3.70. In his career, he would be one of the few players that would pitch for the Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, and New York Giants. He is considered a home-grown Yankee.

Herb Pennock - The Knight of Kennett Square, whose Major League career began in 1912, was still pitching in 1932. This future Hall-of-Famer went 9-5, 4.60 in 21 starts in 1932. Pennock and Ruth were the only players present in all three of the Yankees first three championship eras. His last season with New York was 1933 and he ended his career with the Red Sox in 1934. Pennock came to the Yankees in 1923 from the Boston Red Sox in a trade for three lesser players and $50,000.

Conclusion - This squad had many more “home grown” players. The debatable question, I assume, would be how much the Yankees’ financial strength contributed to their success here. At least four players, Tony Lazzeri, Frank Crosetti, Earle Combs, and Lefty Gomez came to the Yankees though large payments to their minor league franchises. All four were long time Yankees with three of them earning Hall-of-Fame recognition and the other accumulating more World Series appearances as a player and coach than any other player or coach in the sport’s history. How much did the Yankees’ financial strength help in securing these players? Again, we’ll let the readers decide. It must also be noted that (for the last time in his career) Babe Ruth strengthened this team, the difference he made should not, even at this point in his career be underestimated. In addition, Red Ruffing, the ace of the pitching staff, came through a cash deal with the Red Sox as did George Pipgras and Herb Pennock. It seems, to this writer at least, that this team wouldn’t have been as dominant without the team’s decision makers and ownership being willing to spend big (those were big dollars in those days of the Great Depression) in order to win.

3 years ago  ::  Jan 09, 2020 - 11:08AM #42
Posts: 25,332

The All Time Yankees Hall of Very Good Team (Part 2 of 2)

Here is the rest of the squad!


The left fielder on this team is Roy White. I have written that White is probably the most underrated player in Yankees history, so won’t add much here. White is one of five players on this team who were part of the late 1970s Yankees mini-dynasty. Three, Nettles, Lyle and Randolph were acquired in trades that rank among the best in Yankees history while Munson and White were products of the Yankees farm system. One possible explanation for why this period is so over represented is that the players from the 1970s and 1980s are still underrepresented in the Hall of Fame, so players of Nettles, Munson or Randolph’s caliber from the first two thirds of the twentieth century would probably be enshrined in Cooperstown. Meanwhile, more recent players, like Andy Pettitte or Mark Teixeira are not yet eligible for this team based on my criteria.

The center fielder on this team is the only representative of the post 1990 Yankees. Bernie Williams was a wonderful player who could do it all. He fielded his position, hit, hit for power and ran well. He won four Gold Gloves, led the league in batting once and finished with a career .297 batting average, hit twenty or more home runs every year from 1996-2001 and even stole 147 bases. The most amazing thing about Williams is that he batted cleanup and played center field on several championship Yankees teams and was still frequently overlooked. Among those who overlooked him were Hall of Fame voters. Williams fell off the ballot after his second year, never even getting ten percent of the vote. Williams is a marginal Hall of Fame candidate, he was clearly better than several Hall of Fame center fielders from the first half of the twentieth century.

Right field was the closest call for this team. Roger Maris and Charlie Keller were similar players. Both were overshadowed by the center fielders they played with on the Yankees-Maris by Mantle and Keller by DiMaggio. Both had relatively short careers of 12 and 13 years respectively; and both could hit. There are occasional boomlets of enthusiasm for electing Maris to the Hall of Fame, but he, like Keller, was simply not good enough for that honor. Maris is remembered for his record breaking 61 home run season in 1961 in which he was the American League MVP. He won that award as well in 1960, but other than those two years was never a truly great player. If he had played five more years, until he was 35, and hit another 100 home runs, he would have a much better Cooperstown case. However, for this team a two time Yankees MVP who was a big part of consecutive pennant winning teams is a good fit. Keller was a great hitter, but some of his best years were during World War II when the competition was not as strong. Keller also never had two years like Maris did in 1960 and 1961, so Maris gets the nod here.


Ron Guidry and Mel Stottlemyre are the two starting pitchers. Stottlemyre was a great pitcher whose career was cut short by injury and probably overuse. However, from 1965-1969 he was 88-70 with a 3.34 ERA. He was a real workhorse during those years as he averaged 276 innings pitched. Overall, Stottlemyre had a record of 164-139 with an ERA of 2.97 in a career that lasted parts of 11 seasons. Modern analytics also show that the right hander who spent his entire career with the Yankees was a pretty good pitcher. He accumulated 43.1 WAR and had a career ERA+ of 112. Stottlemyre was only on the Hall of Fame ballot once receiving less than one percent of the vote in 1980. His numbers were not Hall of Fame caliber, but he was a very good pitcher who later served as the Yankees pitching coach from 1996-2005. In that capacity Stottlemyre was part of four World Series winners.As a player he never won a World Series with the Yankees, although he started three games against St. Louis in the 1964 World Series when he was a 22 year old rookie. Unfortunately, he had his best years when the Yankees were having their worst and retired before the team’s mid-1970s renaissance.

Guidry is more familiar to Yankees fans. He is a stronger Hall of Fame candidate that Stottlemyre, but still came up short in his nine years on the ballot, never getting as much as ten percent of the vote. Guidry is most remembered for going 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA in 1978, but he was the Yankees ace well into the 1980s. He was a three time 20 game winner who was in the top ten in Cy Young balloting six times and a four time all star. The relative brevity of Guidry’s career kept him out of Cooperstown, as he only won 170 games and pitched fewer than 2,500 innings. Nonetheless, a good case could be made that his peak was strong enough to earn him more consideration, particularly given the election of Jack Morris to the Hall of Fame.

The reliever on this team was more of a closer than a fireman and was a teammate of both Guidry and Stottlemyre. Sparky Lyle was the top Yankees reliever from 1972-1977 and remained with the team through the 1978 season. During those years he saved 141 games, posted an ERA + of 148 and was one of the best relievers in baseball. In those days, relievers were less specialized and were called on to do many different things and pitch for more than one inning. Lyle’s demonstrated this in game four of the 1977 ALCS against the Royals when the Yankees were down two games to one-the ALCS was best of five in those days-facing elimination. He entered the game with the Yankees up 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth with the tying run on second, the go ahead run on first and George Brett, the Royals’ best hitter, at the plate. Lyle retired Brett and did not allow another run the rest of the game. The Yankees went on to win the game, the series and then the World Series. 1977 was also the year Lyle became the first American League reliever to win the Cy Young award. Dave Righetti, another great left handed Yankees reliever would be a good choice too, but I went with Lyle because of his Cy Young Award and postseason accomplishments.


The catcher on the Yankees Hall of Very Good team caught all three of these pitchers. Much has been written about how Thurman Munson belongs in the Hall of Fame. I won’t add much other than to say Ted Simmons was a fine ballplayer and a favorite of mine in the 1970s, but the argument that he belongs in and Munson does not rests largely on Simmons’ last few years in the majors when he was good but not great and mostly accumulating hits, RBIs and the like and on discounting Munson’s postseason work and his untimely death.


The players on this Yankees Hall of Very Good team all, with the exception of Mattingly, played important roles in pennant winning Yankees teams and are the kinds of players that consistently good Yankees teams need. It is easier to recall players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter, but without players like Ron Guidry, Bernie Williams and Graig Nettles there would be a lot fewer flags flying at Yankee Stadium.

3 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2020 - 10:51AM #43
Posts: 25,332

Great Yankees Batting Orders Revisited

Five Yankees teams, in 1927, 1932, 1939, 1961 and 1998, have won 67% or more of their games. All five of those teams also won the World Series. In 1961, the Yankees lost a World Series game, but the other teams all swept. These were probably the five greatest teams in Yankees history and several rank among the very best teams ever. Baseball has changed a lot since even 1998, and a lot more since 1927, so I decided to look at what the batting order for each of these teams would look like with today’s approach to batting orders. In doing this, I looked at players’ statistics for the whole year. This information was not available during the seasons in question because those numbers were still forming, but in most cases the numbers either were similar to the previous year or had become clear by midseason.

The 1927 Yankees are considered one of the greatest teams ever. This was the best of the three Ruth and Gehrig teams that won the World Series. It was also the year Ruth hit 60 home runs. The batting order the Yankees used most in 1927, fully 25 times, was Earle Combs (CF) Mark Koenig (SS) Babe Ruth (RF) Lou Gehrig (1b), Bob Meusel (2b) Tony Lazzeri (2b), Joe Dugan (3b), Pat Collins (C) and the pitcher. The Yankees used the first six batters in this lineup in that order in 85 of what was then a 154 game season. There are several things about this lineup that would stand out today. First, Mark Koenig would be a poor choice to bat second because he couldn’t hit. His .320 OBP was the lowest of any Yankees starter while only Joe Dugan had a lower OPS. Second, the lineup bunches up the two left-handed hitting and right-handed hitting sluggers. This would not have been an issue in 1927 when bullpen use was totally different, but it would be an issue today.

Today, based on their statistics in 1927, the lineup would look a little different. Earle Combs’ was a prototypical leadoff hitter. In 1927 he was a fast centerfielder with little power whose .414 OBP helped him score 137 runs. He would remain in the leadoff spot, but after that the order would look different. Today the best hitter on the team bats second, not third. That would mean that Ruth would bat second but this team has enough good hitters that a different approach could be taken. However, recognizing Ruth’s unique greatness and value batting third, even today many mangers would bat Bob Meusel second instead. Meusel was the third best overall hitter on this team, but his .393 OBP would mean a lot more RBI opportunities for the middle of the order. It would also keep Ruth and Gehrig in their iconic three and four spots in the batting order. This would leave the Yankees vulnerable to left-handed pitching, but Ruth and Gehrig were not ordinary left-handed hitters. Both had OPS over 1.000 in 1927 against left-handed pitching. Tony Lazzeri, a right handed hitter, would move up to the number five spot. After that, the bottom of the order would be slightly reworked with catcher Pat Collins who hit a very respectable .275/.407/.418 sixth followed by the switch hitting Koenig and the Dugan. The batting order of Combs, Meusel, Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Collins, Koenig, Dugan and the pitcher would be how these players would be lined up based on 2020 thinking. It was never used in 1927.

The 1932 Yankees are most remembered for Babe Ruth’s called shot in the 1932 World Series, but this was a great all around team. They won 107 games, finished in first place by 13 games and swept the Cubs in the World Series. Ruth, Gehrig, Combs and Lazzeri were still essentially in their respective primes. Bill Dickey and Ben Chapman were good young players that bolstered the offense while ace pitchers Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing combined for 42 wins. The batting order the team most frequently used was Combs, Joe Sewell, Ruth, Gehrig, Chapman, Dickey, Lazzeri, Lyn Lary and the pitcher. This lineup was used 23 times and another 11 with Frank Crosetti batting eighth at shortstop. Lary and Crosetti had almost the same numbers and played the same position in 1932, so this basic lineup was used 34 times, but the top four were Combs-Sewell-Ruth-Gehrig 86 times.

This team was very left-handed at the plate with only Lazzeri, Chapman and the two shortstops batting from the right side. The major problem with this lineup is that Sewell who hit .279/.349/.392 in 1932 was not the best choice for the number two spot. Today, Chapman,.299/381/.473, would likely be in the number two spot. Again, Ruth could be there as well, but the right handed hitting Chapman between two left handed hitters, Combs and Ruth, would be helpful. Ruth and Gehrig would remain in the middle of the order, followed by Lazzeri, Dickey, Sewell, and the shortstop. Again, this would break up the left handed bats a little bit while bunching the best hitters at the top. If this team’s batting order was crafted today, it would likely be Combs, Chapman, Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Dickey, Sewell, shortstop, pitcher, but it was never constructed that way in 1932.

In 1939, the Yankees won 106 games, finished in first place by 17 games and swept the Reds in the World Series. They would have won more games in the regular season if they had a better backup first baseman, but given they had not needed one in almost fifteen years, that oversight made some sense. Lou Gehrig, still a fearsome hitter in 1938, became too sick to play very early in the season and was replaced by Babe Dahlrgren, who was not much of hitter, for the rest of the year.

The lineup most frequently used by the Yankees in 1936 was Crosetti, Red Rolfe, Charlie Keller, Joe DiMaggio, Dickey, George Selkirk, Joe Gordon, Dahlgren and the pitcher. They used this lineup 30 times, but the first four were together in the same 46 times. This lineup did not maximize the Yankees potent offense, primarily because of the first two batters. Frank Crosetti had a .315 OBP and should have never batted leadoff. Rolfe’s .404 OBP looks a lot better in the number two spot, but in that high scoring era four Yankees starters got on base more often. The natural leadoff hitter on that team should have been George Selkirk who led the team with a .452 OBP while stealing 12 bases in 17 tries. His power, 21 home runs that year, probably kept him out of the leadoff spot, but today that would not be a problem. DiMaggio was the best hitter on that team and would bat second, followed by Keller, thus following today’s patterns while also having lefty-righty-lefty swingers in the first three spots in the lineup. After that, more questions arise. Dickey, Rolfe and Gordon were all good hitters in 1939 and could be put in any order. However, many managers today would bat Gordon fourth largely because he had more power than the other two. The rest of the order was Dickey, Rolfe, Dahlgren and Crosetti. From today’s perspective the best batting order for this team would be Selkirk, DiMaggio, Keller Gordon, Dickey, Rolfe, Dahlgren, Crosetti and the pitcher. That batting order was never used in 1939 in part because Selkirk never batted first and DiMaggio never batted second.

The 1961 Yankees were famous for Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle both threatening Babe Ruth’s home run record before Maris finally broke it. That team, playing 162 games, won 109, captured the pennant by eight games and won the World Series in five games. Despite this, manager Ralph Houk had some strange ideas about lineup construction. Houk did not use any batting order even 12 times, but based on where they most frequently batted in the order, the typical batting order was Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Maris, Mantle, Yogi Berra, Moose Skowron, Elston Howard and the pitcher. Skowron and Howard frequently switched spots in the lineup. This lineup, with the six and seven spots going either way, was used 17 times. The 1961 Yankees were a strange team because they got great offense from Mantle and Maris, but Kubek, Richardson and Boyer were all defense first players who did not hit all that much. In this situation, there is a temptation to break up the weak hitters, but Houk usually did not do that in a way that makes sense from today’s perspectives. None of those three had an OBP of even .310, so they should not have been at the top of the order.

This team had no natural leadoff hitter, but a more creative manager, or one looking at the team through the lens of baseball today, could have gone with either Howard, who was the primary catcher, or Berra, who played mostly left field in the leadoff spot. Both were slow, but on this team they weren’t going to need to steal many bases. Howard had a .387 OBP so would have been a good, if extremely unconventional, table setter. Mantle was the best overall hitter on that team and would have been an excellent number two hitter. Maris would bat third as the other best hitter on the team, followed by Skowron who had a very good year hitting .267/.318/.472 from the right side, and then Berra, a left-handed hitter, who had an even better year at .271/.330./455. The bottom of the order would be weak with Boyer followed by Kubek and Richardson. A batting order of Howard, Mantle, Maris, Skowron, Berra, Boyer, Kubek and Richardson would have been radical for the era, but would have generated more runs. Needless to say, this was not tried in 1961 as Berra never batted first and Mantle never batted second.

The 1998 Yankees won 114 regular season games and swept through the post season going 11-2 on their way to winning the World Series. They are the only team in this group that was from the modern era as they played with a DH, less lineup stability than the pre-war teams, a multi-tiered playoff system and are in the living memory of many Yankees fans. As with many modern teams, they tinkered with the lineup a lot, never using the same lineup more than eight times. Based on who the starters were and where they most frequently batted, the typical lineup for the 1998 Yankees team was Chuck Knoblauch, Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Daryl Strawberry, Chad Curtis, Jorge Posada and Scott Brosius. This is a solid and well thought out lineup with the two table setters at the top of the order, the best hitters in the middle and the weaker hitters at the bottom, but a manager using today’s conventional wisdom would nonetheless tinker with it slightly.

The first thing that could be done differently is that although Knoblauch was a big offseason acquisition who was expected to bat leadoff, in 1998 Jeter was a better leadoff hitter as he got on base more frequently, a .384 OBP compared to .361 for Knoblauch, and was a better base stealer, 30 for 36 compared to 31 for 43 for Knoblauch. Today, the best hitter usually bats second, but to break up the lefty swingers a little, Paul O’Neill, essentially the second best hitter on the 1998 Yankees would bat second rather than Bernie Williams, who would bat third. Strawberry and Martinez would bat fourth and fifth. In 1998, Martinez usually batted ahead of Strawberry, but Strawberry OPS+ 132, was a slightly better hitter than Martinez, OPS+ of 124, in 1998. Those two left-handed hitters would be vulnerable to the lefty relief specialist that were so common then, but this team was lefty heavy, so that is somewhat inevitable. The rest of the order would also look somewhat different. The right-handed hitting Scott Brosius, usually batted eighth or ninth in 1998, but he had an excellent season hitting .300/.371/.472 in 1998, so would move up to the sixth spot in the lineup. Jorge Posada would be in the seventh spot followed by Chad Curtis. Curtis was a weaker hitter than Knoblauch but many teams today still like the idea of a second leadoff hitter in the last spot in the batting order, so Knoblauch would bat 9th. Thus, the 1998 Yankees, if they were around today, they would have a batting order that looked something like this, Jeter, O’Neill, Williams, Strawberry, Martinez, Brosius, Posada, Curtis, Knoblauch. That lineup was never used in 1998.

The goal of this exercise is not to craft the lineups I would use, but to look at how ideas about batting orders, run generation and how runs are scored have changed over the years. All of these teams except the 1961 Yankees were managed by future Hall of Famers. They knew what they were doing as evidenced by the great success they all had in these years, but there are some glaring questions-like Ralph Houk’s fondness for middle infielders who could not get on base at the top of the order-that cannot be avoided. Additionally, some of today’s approaches seem strange through the prism of this exercise. Batting the team’s best hitter second is an idea that can be overdone, particularly with good teams that have a lot of high OBP players.

3 years ago  ::  Jan 25, 2020 - 10:52AM #44
Posts: 25,332

The All-Highlander Team

Most fans know that before the Yankees were the Yankees, they were the Highlanders. Originally the American League Franchise in Baltimore when the league began operations in 1901, they were moved to New York by league President Ban Johnson to compete with John McGraw’s Giants in 1903. The team played in Hilltop Park in one of the highest points in Upper Manhattan, and took on the name Highlanders.

In 1904 it looked like a good move by Johnson as the Highlanders won 92 games battled the Boston Americans to the very end for the AL Pennant. Afterwards the team struggled, with .500 or higher percentage in only three of the next eight seasons while languishing in the middle of the pack in attendance.

In 1913 the Highlanders started sharing the Polo Grounds with the Giants, and the name “Highlanders” didn’t seem appropriate anymore. The team officially took on the name “Yankees” which the press had been calling them for some time.

While their time as the Highlanders certainly pales in comparison to the rest of the franchise’s history, there were memorable players though in the Highlander era. Here’s my “All-Highlander” team:

Catcher – Red Kleinow: In an era in which catchers were expected to bat eighth and produce next to nothing on offense, Kleinow’s .219 average over seven seasons was considered acceptable. Never played a lot (career high was 95 games caught), but well regarded.

First Baseman – Hal Chase: Chase is one of the most notorious figures in baseball history, with numerous accusations of throwing/fixing ballgames during his career. During his Highlander years however he established himself as one of the better players in the game, batting .287 and averaging 30 stolen bases per season while being especially adept in the field.

Second Baseman – Jimmy Williams: Served as team Captain, and led the 1903 Highlanders with a robust .392 slugging percentage and 82 RBI.

Shortstop – Kid Elberfield: “The Tabasco Kid” feuded with umpires, teammates and opposing players alike. Was once called “the dirtiest, scrappiest, most rantankerous, most rambunctious ball player that ever stood in spikes”. Was well regarded at bat and in the field. Batted .268 in seven years in New York, among the best of AL shortstops, and served as player-manager for a portion of the 1908 season.

Third Baseman – Wid Conroy: Conroy was a versatile player who could play multiple positions well, but was mostly positioned at third base for the Highlanders. Batted .250 with the Highlanders and stole an average of 38 bases from 1903-1908.

Outfielder – Willie Keeler: Best known for his time in Baltimore and Brooklyn in the late 19th century, he came to the Highlanders in 1903 and still “hit ‘em where they ain’t”, batting .315 over his first four seasons.

Outfielder – Birdie Cree: Floated primarily between left and center field for the Highlanders from 1908-1912, finished sixth in Chalmers (MVP) voting in 1911 with .348/.415/.513 season.

Outfielder – Harry Wolter – 3+ WAR right fielder in 1910 and 1911.

Pitcher – Jack Chesbro: The Hall of Famer is best known for his epic 1904 season, when he almost single handedly pitched the team to the AL flag with a 41-12, 1.82 ERA. In that epic season, he hurled 48 complete games and threw 454.2 innings, making him an iron man among iron men in the Deadball Era.

The change in team name in 1913 didn’t have any change on the field, as the Yankees finished the decade by playing collectively sub-.500 baseball.

After the 1919 season, the Yankees purchased Boston Red Sox outfielder-pitcher Babe Ruth, and the trajectory of the franchise was forever changed. It all started though with the Highlanders.

3 years ago  ::  Feb 01, 2020 - 10:32AM #45
Posts: 25,332

Sports Collectors Daily | Rich MuellerIn today’s weird news, Wally Pipp’s 1923 World Series championship pocket watch is up for auction. Pipp is more famous for taking a day off and then losing his spot to Lou Gehrig, as the Iron Horse then played 2130 games in a row. However, Pipp was a good player in his own right and was the regular first baseman for the ‘23 team. Also, the Yankees should bring back the championship pocket watch if they win in 2020.

3 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2020 - 10:41AM #46
Posts: 25,332

The youngest Yankee to play in a World Series

Some players who get to play on the biggest stage in baseball at a very young age go on to be legends of the game. Not all of them.

Last year, Juan Soto had an incredible set of games and arguably could’ve been named MVP of the World Series at the age of 20/21.

While that’s not unheard of, it’s pretty rare. Andruw Jones famously had a two home run game as a 19-year-old against the Yankees in 1996. Mickey Mantle was just 20 when he would’ve had a good argument to win World Series MVP in 1952 if the award existed back then. It wasn’t even the first he played in either.

However, none of those guys are the youngest player to ever play in a World Series. That distinction belongs to Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom who played for the 1924 Giants in a losing effort against the Senators. The second youngest is a Yankee, although it’s not necessarily a name you would expect.

Born in Jamaica, Queens, Tom Carroll was signed by the Yankees out of Notre Dame in January 1955. He wouldn’t have been at college long as the youngster was still just 18, and wouldn’t be 19 until September.

Carroll’s signing bonus exceeded $4000 dollars, making him a bonus baby. From 1947 to 1965, if a team signed a player to a bonus exceeding the aforementioned amount, he had to be placed on the major league roster. Among the players that fell into this category were Sandy Koufax and Harmon Killebrew. However, there were also plenty of others that weren’t as successful, as they were being used sparingly in the majors instead of developing somewhere in the minors. Carroll was more in that second group.

In his rookie season, Carroll was used almost exclusively as a pinch runner. He did not play the field until July 2nd, his fifth career game. On that day, he came in to play shortstop in the ninth with the Yankees already up 12-0. His first at-bat didn’t come until September 25th. That was a doubleheader on the final day of the season after the AL had already been clinched. He stepped to the plate six times in total that day and recorded his first two major league hits, both singles.

Carroll’s only appearances in the field were at shortstop, where the Yankees had two experienced players ahead of him. While neither had particularly great hitting years, it was going to be tough for an 18-year-old to surpass a legend in Phil Rizzuto, or Billy Hunter, who was part of the massive trade that also brought Don Larsen and Bob Turley to the Yankees. Thus, Carroll didn’t get a ton of playing time. Plus, with the bullpens being not quite as important and well-stocked, it was easy to hide someone on the bench.

The Yankees advanced to play the Dodgers in that year’s World Series, and Carroll was included on the roster. The Yankees took two of the first three games, but were trailing in the sixth inning of Game Four.

With the score 7-4, the Yankees sent Eddie Robinson up as a pinch hitter in the pitcher’s spot. He singled to score a run, but Carroll was then sent in to pinch run for him. The rookie was officially 19 years and 14 days old when he came in, making him the second youngest player in World Series history. He was about two months older than Lindstrom would’ve been when he played in Game One of the 1924 World Series. Carroll was stranded at first as the next two hitters made outs. He was replaced by a pitcher as the Yankees went on to lose the game.

The next day, Carroll was again sent in to pinch run for Robinson late in a game the Yankees were losing. The Dodgers led 4-3 when the 19-year-old came in. Billy Martin proceeded to then ground into a double play to end the inning. Carroll was again replaced before the next half inning as the Yankees lost.

The team would win Game Six, but the Dodgers won the series in seven. Carroll didn’t play in either of the other two games in the series.

The following season, Carroll played a little more, but in a similar role. In 1956, Carroll played in 36 games, but came to the plate just 18 times. After two years playing exclusively in the majors, the Yankees had him play 1957 in the minors. He spent two seasons there and put up okay stats, but wasn’t knocking the cover off the ball.

In April 1959, Carroll was included in a trade with the Kansas City Athletics. He played 14 games for them, but struggled and didn’t end up sticking with them. While he won’t be the only person to have had their major league career end at age 22, he has to be one of just a few to have had their career end at that age, four years after their debut.

All stats and game information courtesy of Baseball Reference.

3 years ago  ::  Feb 21, 2020 - 10:33AM #47
Posts: 25,332

Mickey Mantle's Spring Training of 1951

Most folks take spring training results “with a grain of salt”, as the results aren’t always a reliable predictor of regular season performance. Occasionally though a player comes out of seemingly nowhere to have a spectacular spring, force the big league team to take notice, and eventually take him north for the season.

In 1951, a 19-year old switch-hitting shortstop named Mickey Mantle presented such a case to the New York Yankees.

Mantle had spent the 1950 season in Class C league Joplin, where he gained the attention of the big league club when he batted .383 with 26 home runs and 136 RBIs. He struggled in the field, making 55 errors. Upon arrival in spring training, he impressed with his combination of power from both sides of the plate and blazing foot speed.

He was still a bit raw, and general manager George Weiss stated his intentions to send the phenom back to the minors for more seasoning, as a jump from Class C minor league ball to the majors was very rare. Manager Casey Stengel had other ideas. On March 2, Stengel announced that Mantle would be moved to the outfield - “To make a first class shortstop out of Mantle would take a couple of years anyway, but to convert the young man into an outfielder; well that should not take too long”. Much like his mentor John McGraw had his prodigy Mel Ott, Stengel saw his in the talented Oklahoman. As spring training moved along, Mantle’s play - .402, nine homers and 31 RBIs forced the Yankees hand, and he went north with the team.

Mantle’s rookie season turned out to be a mixed bag. He held his own through May, when he was slashing at .279/.347/.429 in regular work, then struggled in June and early July and was sent to the minors with a promise from Stengel of a swift recall back to the Yanks. The story of the Mick’s despondence and desire to quit and then his father’s challenge (“I thought I raised a man, not a coward”) is well known.
Mantle did report to the Yanks farm club in Kansas City, and raked at a 1.096 OPS over forty games, and true to Casey’s word, was recalled in August.  The time away from New York seemed to put Mickey back on track, slashing .284/.370/.495 with six home runs in just over a month’s work at the end of the season, helping the Yankees take the 1951 American League pennant.

He never looked back afterwards. In 1952 he was an All-Star (first of fourteen selections in a row) and was third in MVP voting as a 20-year old. He of course went on to become a Yankee legend, highlighted by his Triple Crown season of 1956, and three MVP awards.

His career was capped with election to the Hall of Fame in 1974.

3 years ago  ::  Mar 15, 2020 - 1:30PM #48
Posts: 25,332

Now Taking the Field....

I recently picked up the book Now Taking the Field: Baseball’s All-Time Dream Teams for All 30 Franchises by Tom Stone. I’ve been reading through it, and thought I’d share my impressions.

For each of the thirty MLB franchises, Stone provides an all-time team of their best players. He doesn’t just give you the teams though. For each position, he provides first a list of all of the franchise’s significant players through the years. He then gives insight into his decision making process, citing traditional and modern statistics along with awards and postseason performance. The end results are all-time team rosters and lineups against right and left handed pitchers.

This is probably not a book to sit down and read through all at once, but is a great “chapter at a time” read. I have it on my end table by my recliner and enjoy picking it up and reading through a team. Truthfully, I read most chapters more than once as I consider the teams myself. It’s also a great book to go back to if you’re like me and have random thoughts that occur like “where does Roger Peckinpaugh rank among Yankee shortstops?” and “Joe McCarthy or Casey Stengel?”.

If you’re a fan of baseball history, pick up the book; you’ll be pleased that you did. Beware, if you read it and share it with a friend, prepare for debate and arguments. You’ve been warned!

After reading the chapter on the Yankees, I wondered “what if we plugged the all-time Yankees into today’s roster structure?” Well, here’s my team, with a 26-player roster, heavy on relief pitching, and I’ve commented as I’m inspired. There may be some great players missing, but I put this squad together with the mindset that I would be “managing” this team in a modern context, so I looked significantly at team construction and attributes like roster flexibility, left/right, etc.


Mickey Mantle, RF – Lifetime .421 OBP and 90+ average walks per season along with legendary power make him a great modern day leadoff hitter. Played corner outfield at the beginning an end of his career.
Derek Jeter, SS – Jeter may be one of the great #2 hitters of all time.
Babe Ruth, LF – Interesting note - the Babe played almost as much left field as right field in his career.
Lou Gehrig, 1B – Mantle could fill in in the unlikely event that a backup would be needed at first base.
Joe DiMaggio, CF –
The best player of all time?
Alex Rodriguez, DH
– He’s a DH because it’s tough to find a spot on the field. Provides depth at short and third.
Yogi Berra, C - Certainly Bill Dickey would be appropriate, but it’s hard to overlook Yogi’s six top-three MVP vote seasons when making the decision. Could play outfield in a pinch.
Joe Gordon, 2B – Excellent fielding second basemen, perhaps the best in Yankee history, and averaged 20+ homers per season.
Graig Nettles, 3B – It’s easy to underestimate Nettles’ value as a third baseman as most of the hardware of the 1970s went to Brooks Robinson, but he was really, really good. From 1970-1975, when both were everyday players at the position, Robinson won the Gold Glove each season, but Nettles had a higher average dWAR. If a few of those GG’s come Nettles’ way, is he a Hall of Famer?


Tony Lazzeri, IF – The Hall of Famer was primarily a second baseman, but played a bit of short and third in his career. Good speed on the bases in the event a pinch runner was needed.
Elston Howard C
– Howard doesn’t get a lot of mention among the all-time greats, but look at his age 32-35 seasons: .306/.354/.499 with four All-Star game appearances and two Gold Gloves. May have been a Hall of Fame catcher had the path in his early career not been blocked by Berra. Appeared in outfield 265 games.
Dave Winfield, OF – Was a Yankee regular and Gold Glover in left and right field, and an All-Star each of the eight full seasons he was in Pinstripes.
Roger Maris, OF – Excellent right fielder, could hold his own in center if needed. Powerful lefty bat off the bench and a DH option.

Starting Rotation

Whitey Ford – 94-61, 2.83 against over .500 teams in his career, 2.71 ERA in 146 World Series innings pitched. Always your postseason series opening starter.
Jack Chesbro – He might make the team on his 1904 season alone, when he nearly single-handedly pitched the Yanks to the pennant with a 41-12, 1.82 season.
Ron Guidry – 154-67, 3.15, 123 ERA+ over nine season peak of 1977-1985.
Mel Stottlemyre – Beloved Yankee was one of the few bright spots (155 wins/3.00 ERA) during the pennant-less days of 1965-1975. Put him in the 1950s and he may have a Cooperstown plaque.
Lefty Gomez – Averaged 19 wins per season from 1931-1938 with 134 ERA+. Had 6-0, 2.56 career World Series record.


Mariano Rivera, closer – Who else?
Sparky Lyle, setup – Amazingly consistent reliever, with a 2.42 ERA over seven seasons in the Yankee pen. Was the 1977 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Goose Gossage, setup – We all know that the outspoken Gossage wouldn’t be too happy about setting up a one-inning closer, but oh my what a setup guy he would be!
Ryne Duren, middle innings – Absolutely frightening reliever for the Yanks in the late 1950s due to his 100-mph velocity and suspect control. He had a 1.95 ERA over the 1958 and 1959 seasons while making the AL All-Star teams both years.
Joe Page, middle innings – Page was another intimidating reliever. Top-5 in MVP voting in 1947 and 1949, when relievers were still commonly considered failed starters.
David Robertson, middle innings – “Houdini” would be great to bring in during the tough spots in the middle innings.
Allie Reynolds, swingman - Was equally adept at starting and relieving for Casey Stengel’s five-time World Series champions from 1949-1953.
Dave Righetti, swingman – “Rags” was the 1981 AL Rookie of the Year as a starter, and who can forget his July 4, 1983 no-hitter against Boston before becoming an all-star reliever.

3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2020 - 10:28AM #49
Posts: 25,332

Meet the top five Yankees ranked by WAR

Lots of excellent players have made their mark in the pinstriped uniform, but none of them have the star power that this quintet boasts.

By now, chances are that you are familiar with WAR, or Wins Above Replacement. It is a metric that helps us to determine a player’s overall value over a hypothetical, freely available replacement by combining batting, fielding and baserunning contributions. In this article, we will take a history tour and examine the top five New York Yankees’ players ranked by FanGraphs’ edition of WAR, as far as position players go.

The Yankees are, of course, the MLB team with the richest history. Lots of stars and Hall of Famers have played in pinstripes: Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Alex Rodriguez, Earle Combs, Phil Rizzuto, Graig Nettles, and dozens more. However, these five are the cream of the crop:

Babe Ruth: 149.9 WAR

Arguably the greatest hitter that the world has seen, the Bambino was bigger than his sport. He changed the way baseball was played when he belted 54 home runs in 1920, back when 20 dingers were something to behold and nobody had ever hit 30. He was flamboyant, charismatic, and multi-talented: he was one of MLB’s top left-handed pitchers with the Boston Red Sox before moving to the batter’s box full-time with the Yankees.

Ruth’s career wRC+ is a mind-boggling 200, and he had 1227.8 batting runs. Since the Red Sox sold him to the Yankees after the 1919 season, they didn’t win another World Series title while Ruth was alive, and for many more years after he died in 1948. The “curse” was broken after the turn of the millenium. He has been in the Hall of Fame since 1936.

Lou Gehrig: 116.3 WAR

The “Iron Horse” was a model of indestructibility a lot earlier than Cal Ripken Jr. Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games, through aches and pains, and was always the best player in the field except for a guy named Babe Ruth. Gehrig was significantly better than the rest of the field, though, and came close to Ruth’s wRC+ with his 173 career mark.

It happened in 1939, but his farewell speech, in which he said that he considered himself “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth,” is the stuff of movies. His lifetime average of .340 is jaw-dropping, and his 1995 RBI are actually more than Ruth’s 1975. He has been a Hall of Famer since 1939.

Mickey Mantle: 112.3 WAR

Long before our game, in which virtually anyone can hit 30 home runs and show their wheels, Mickey Mantle was probably the fastest and strongest player of his time. As Casey Stengel put it: “He has more speed than any slugger and more slug than any speedster - and nobody has ever had more of them together.”

His career was full of highlights, including a run to match Ruth’s 60 home runs in one season in 1961 (he ended up with 54,) 20 All-Star games, seven World Series championships (1951–1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962) three AL MVP awards (1956, 1957, 1962) a Triple Crown (1956) a Gold Glove Award (1962) an AL batting crown (1956) and four AL home run titles (1955, 1956, 1958, 1960.) He has been in the Hall of Fame since 1974.

Joe DiMaggio: 83.1 WAR

Joe DiMaggio had a .325/.398/.579 career line with a 152 wRC+. That’s an incredible line, and he also hit 361 home runs and 389 doubles. Those are impressive numbers given that A) He wasn’t really a home run hitter, and B) he lost more than three years serving in World War II.

”Joltin’ Joe” is best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15–July 16, 1941), a record that still stands today and is among the hardest to break. Of course, he is also famous for his marriage with Marilyn Monroe. He was a World Series champion a whopping nine times: 1936–1939, 1941, 1947, and 1949–1951. He has been in Baseball’s Hall of Fame since 1955.

Derek Jeter: 73.1 WAR

The “Captain” continued the line of greatness established by the four previously mentioned names. While he won five Gold Gloves, his defense is actually overrated. Fangraphs’ has his “Def” rating at -19.8 fielding runs, and he infamously had a career -162 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved.)

However, he was a leader by example, an outstanding batter (.310/.377/.440 career line) and a true class act on and off the field. Jeter hit 260 dingers without being a slugger and stole 358 bases without being a burner. He crossed home plate 1923 times.

With 14 All-Star games, five World Series championships (1996, 1998–2000, 2009) a World Series MVP award (2000) an AL Rookie of the Year award (1996) five Gold Gloves (2004–2006, 2009–2010) five Silver Slugger Awards (2006–2009, 2012) two AL Hank Aaron Awards (2006, 2009) and a Roberto Clemente Award (2009) Jeter is absolutely deserving of his place in the Hall of Fame.

3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2020 - 10:31AM #50
Posts: 25,332

This Day in Yankees History: The Dynasty Begins

Derek Jeter homers in the Yankees’ first game under manager Joe Torre.

With the start of the 2020 season delayed for the foreseeable future, the Pinstripe Alley team decided to revive the program in a slightly different format. These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (April 2)

102 Years Ago

The Yankees purchase the contract of George Burns from the Detroit Tigers and trade him to the Philadelphia Athletics for Babe Ruth’s future roommate, outfielder Ping Bodie. He played four seasons for the Yankees, posting a 106 OPS+ in his first three years before dropping to a 23 OPS+ in 1921. Burns, on the other hand, would go on to play for twelve more seasons, winning AL MVP in 1926.

24 Years Ago

New Yankees manager Joe Torre won his first game as the manager of the New York Yankees, as the eventual World Series champs won their Opening Day game against the Cleveland Indians by a score of 7-1. During that game, Hall of Famer Derek Jeter became the first rookie shortstop since 1962 to start Opening Day for the Yankees at the position; he also recorded his first home run. Nobody knew it at the time, but the latest Yankees dynasty had begun.

23 Years Ago

En route to a 16-2 win over the Mariners in Seattle, Tino Martinez hits three home runs — a solo homer, a two-run shot, and a three-run home run. With the blowout ongoing and his old home crowd behind him, Tino had two opportunities to hit a grand slam, but failed to achieve the home run cycle.

19 Years Ago

Roger Clemens strikes out Joe Randa of the Kansas City Royals to move ahead of Walter Johnson and become the all-time AL leader in strikeouts with 3509 on AL teams, and moving him to seventh in all-time strikeouts.

17 Years Ago

After homering in his first at-bat in pinstripes, Todd Zeile becomes the first-ever player to hit a home run with ten different teams: the Yankees, CardinalsCubsPhilliesOriolesDodgersMarlinsRangersMets, and Rockies. He ultimately finished his career with home runs in eleven uniforms.

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Today marks a big birthday in the Yankees world, as part-owner Hank Steinbrenner turns 63. The older brother of principal owner Hal, Hank has generally not been around the club’s public day-to-day operations despite his loud and outspoken personality.

Starting pitcher Jon Lieber celebrates his 50th birthday. He pitched for the Yankees in 2004, going 14-8 with a 4.33 ERA and a 3.71 FIP in 27 starts.

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