William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

Author Archives: William Tasker

His one game was Bliss

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You never know what you will find when scouring through obscure Yankee statistics. Most of what I find and tell you about is at least in somewhat recent history. But what I bring to you today is from the way-back machine. I found a pitcher named, Elmer Bliss, who holds a record of sorts. That obscure record is the most innings pitched in his one and only game outing without giving up an earned run. Bliss made one relief pitching appearance in his career and pitched seven full innings without yielding an earned run. He also won the game. In those seven innings, he gave up just four hits, did not walk anybody and struck out three. The date was September 28, 1903.

There are no box scores from that early a date. All we can ascertain is that he must have relieved a struggling starter and then pitched well enough to allow his team to come back and win the game, 7-6, against the Detroit Tigers at Hilltop Park.…

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This week in Yankees baseball

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I predicted that the New York Yankees would go 5-3 last week. They went 4-3 and it would have been 5-3 if the game yesterday had not been rained out. The postponement was the second time this year that was problematic. Earlier in the season, the Yankees lost two games to the weather against the Indians. At the time, the Indians were playing awfully and their pitching was a mess. It was the perfect time for the Yankees to catch them. Instead, those two games were made up after the Indians had time to regroup and start rolling. The result was a split of those two games. Yesterday could have concluded a second sweep of the Blue Jays at a time when the Blue Jays are really floundering. Will history repeat itself? As a team, you want to catch a team when they are down. The opportunity was lost.

So we enter a new week and the Yankees are back out on the road.…

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This week in Yankees baseball

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Last week, I predicted this little-engine-that-could New York Yankees’ team would go 3-3 and figured that was a reasonable expectation. I was way off base as the team finished the week 5-1 with five straight wins after opening the week with a loss. I also noted that Vernon Wells‘ Cinderella story was turning back into a pumpkin. But somebody kept the clock from reaching midnight as Wells again became the carriage that carried the Yankees this week. He hit two homers in the five games with five ribbies and only struck out once all week. Of course, he did not walk all week either, but why quibble. Wells also made a couple of great plays in the outfield.

Lyle Overbay had a very good week with two doubles and a homer for an OPS in the last five games of .929. And my perennial punching bag, Jayson Nix, had a great week and finished the week with an OPS over one.…

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Larry Gowell batted 1.000

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I mentioned in an article last week that I enjoy pouring over Yankee lists using the Play Index at Baseball-reference.com. This time, on a whim, I searched for players who finished their Yankee career with a 1.000 batting average. I found five. Two of them do not really count because they also played elsewhere in the majors. Those two were Chris Latham, who had two plate appearances for the Yankees and recorded two hits and scored three runs in 2003. He was a Twins’ product and put in parts of five years in the majors. Then there was Mickey Witek who played six years for the New York Giants, mostly during the WWII years before his one at bat and one hit with the Yankees in 1949. So those two really do not count. The other three included a guy who piqued my interest because he was born and still lives in Maine where I live and because his one hit has a lot of history to it.…

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This week in Yankees baseball

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The Yankees finished their ten-game home stand by winning seven of those contests. That perhaps blunts the two of three they lost to the Oakland A’s over this past weekend and masks a bit that the Yankees should have swept the Astros. In the long view, seven wins out of ten is a lot better than the other way around, so quit complaining, right? Hey, it is my column and I will if I want to. After a day off today, the Yankees begin a road trip that starts at dreaded Coors Field where anything can happen, and then finish the week at Kauffman Stadium against a Royals’ team that is no longer a pushover and sits currently a half game behind the Tigers in the AL Central. It should be a wild ride.

The Yankees will lose the DH in Denver and that is a problem on an offense that should not scare anyone despite a pleasant beginning to the season.

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Bobby Murcer – WPA Hero

Searching for and creating all-time Yankee lists is one of the things I like to do in my spare time. As such, it seems that Baseball-reference.com’s Play Index was personally made just for me. I do not consider paying for that service an inconvenience. I consider it one of life’s necessary expenses. This time, I was trying to get a sense of which Yankee player has had the biggest hits. I decided to use WPA (Win Probability Added). I will try to define that statistic in a moment. But for the sake of getting this article off the ground, suffice it to say for now that WPA measures how a plate appearance affects the outcome of a game. I found fifteen games where the WPA score for a game was over .800 (roughly 80% of a win). Bobby Murcer had five of them. No other Yankee has ever had more than two such games.

alg_murcer-undatedTom Tango is mostly responsible for the win expectancy and game leverage type statistics.…

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This week in Yankees baseball

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The New York Yankees won five out of seven this week as they swept the Toronto Blue Jays four games to none over the weekend. I expected the team to lose two of three down in St. Pete against the Rays. I did not expect a sweep of the Blue Jays, though I did believe the team would win the series. My prediction was 4-3 for the week. The only trouble for the team is that its counterparts in the American League East keep winning too. The Red Sox continue their blistering pace and the Orioles won all week as well.  All four teams in the AL East other than the Toronto Blue Jays have won seven of their last ten. The Yankees remain two and a half games behind the Red Sox in second place, a half a game up on the Orioles.

In theory, this week coming up works really well for them. They remain home for the entire week and the next weekend is sandwiched in between two off days on Thursday and Monday before the team  heads out on a road trip.…

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This week in Yankees baseball – Heading into Week 4

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The New York Yankees have won four straight series and that is what Joe Girardi likes. C.C. Sabathia picked up another win. Andy Pettitte won another start. Heck, even Ivan Nova won one of his two starts. Hiroki Kuroda pitched well enough to win his start but that game became a bullpen win after the bullpen blew Kuroda’s. And perhaps we are a greedy and spoiled bunch, but it certainly seemed like the last two series should have been sweeps. The team went ahead, 4-2 on Sunday just to see the bullpen cough up four runs to give the Blue Jays the last game of the series. Back on Thursday, the Yankees were down a run heading into the ninth and Francisco Cervelli smacked a homer to tie the game. But David Phelps–who figured prominently in both losses this week–got roughed up in the twelfth inning. The week could have been better…should have been better. But it could have been worse too.…

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Joba Chamberlain as Lenny Pike

Joba Chamberlain has been a personal favorite ever since his sizzling debut in 2007. There is just something about the guy that makes me root for him. But in the entire time he has been with the Yankees, it has always been at the back of my mind that he reminds me of somebody. For years, I could not put my finger on who it was. The round face, the straight-billed cap, his sometimes blank looking expression all hearkened back to someone from my past. I gave up a long time ago of figuring out who it was.

And then Jonathan Winters died recently. Winters had been a guy that has made me laugh for decades on end. To celebrate Winters’ life, I took a stroll on YouTube to see if I could watch some video of Winters in action. And then it struck me. When Winters played Lenny Pike in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, his performance was the highlight of a movie I enjoyed as a boy seeing in a drive-in movie theater.…

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