While I would’ve liked to talk about Nick Swisher here and pontificate about how underappreciated he was by the average Yankee fan, the wound is just too fresh and I can’t bring myself to do it (yet). Instead, I’ll talk about another fan favorite who donned 33 for the New York Yankees: David Wells.
Boomer had two stints with the Yankees. The first one started when the Yankees signed him on Christmas Eve in 1996. That stint went through the 1997-1998 seasons and ended in February of 1999 when the Yankees traded Wells, Graeme Lloyd, and (Michael Kay’s favorite) Homer Bush to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens. The second time around, Wells signed with the Yankees in January 2002 and stuck around through the 2003 season.
Wells gave the Yankees a combination of durability and solid performance; he pitched at least 206 inings for them in each of his four seasons and never had an ERA+ under 107. In 1998, he led the league in winning percentage (.818), shutouts (5), WHIP (1.045), BB/9 (1.2), and K/BB (5.62); he also threw a perfect game for good measure.
In the 1997-1998 stint, Wells tossed 432.1 total innings with a 3.85 ERA, good for a 116 ERA+. He had a 1.175 WHIP, walked just 1.5 per nine, and had a sparkling 4.31 K/BB. In his second time around, he again had a a league-leading season. In 2003, he walked just 0.8 per nine innings. Between 2002-3, he threw 419.1 innings with a 112 ERA+ and 3.6 K/BB. All told, Wells threw 851.2 innings to a 114 ERA+.
He also had some sparkling postseason moments, including eight shutout innings against the Rangers in the 1998 ALDS. That year, he also added two wins in the ALCS and another win the World Series. Wells stumbled out of the gate in the 2002 playoffs surrendering eight runs in 4.2 innings, but recovered in 2003 and gave up just six runs in 22.4 playoff innings in 2003 (2.41 ERA).
David Wells was a good pitcher and a fun guy to have around in Pinstripes. Share your memories of him or his games in the comments. Here’s to you, Boomer!