Rudy May Day

In 1980, Rudy May had a terrific season for the New York Yankees. He led the league in ERA, FIP, WHIP and strikeout to walk ratio. He came in third among all American League pitchers in WAR. But he did not receive a single Cy Young Award vote. Of course, those were the days before anyone thought anything about WAR and FIP and K/BB ratios. All the writers knew was that Steve Stone went 25-7. Two Yankee teammates of May that year also received votes in Cy Young voting, Tommy John and Goose Gossage. Rudy May‘s season was pretty much overlooked.

It is only through hindsight with the measuring tools we have now that we can truly appreciate the season Rudy May had in 1980. May pitched in 41 games, 17 as a starter and 24 in relief. He still compiled 175.1 innings that season. His final record was 15-5. He completed three of his starts, threw a shutout and chipped in three saves.…

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Short-term winning Yankee pitchers

The history of the New York Yankees is littered with pitchers who put together a winning percentage of .600 or better because the Yankees have won so many games over the team’s history. There is Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry, CC Sabathia, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Orlando Hernandez, Andy Pettitte and even Don Larsen, to name a few. But what about those pitchers who only pitched a season or two for the team and yet had very good success? After setting some criteria, there were nine that are featured here today.

The criteria was this: The pitcher had to make at least fifteen starts, but less than forty. They had to have an ERA+ of 100 or better to be at least league average or better. And they had to have a .600 winning percentage or better. With that set as the parameters, nine pitchers came into focus and are listed below by rWAR:

Jack McDowell: Jack McDowell was a first round draft pick by the Chicago White Sox in 1987.…

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History by the fours

Since today was a day off in the current 2014 New York Yankees season, I thought I might take a look at the past versions of the Yankees during all of their “4″ seasons. This entry will look at every Yankee season that ended with a four and present the best pitcher and batter of that particular season. We begin with the 1904 New York Highlanders.

1904. The New York Highlanders were managed by the 34-year-old Clark Griffith who also pitched ches100+ innings that season and went 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA. The team won 92 games and finished a game and a half behind Boston. The best player on the team was pitcher, Happy Jack Chesbro. Chesbro had his best season and led the league in games pitched, starts, complete games, wins, innings pitched and had the lowest hits per nine allowed in the league. He went 41-12 with a 1.82 ERA (2.19 FIP) and completed 48 of his 51 starts.…

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The Underrated Jackie Robinson

[Editor's note: This piece was originally published on 4/16/13 but we felt it would be nice to revisit today. -SG]

Over the past week or so, there has been much ado about Jackie Robinson – and deservedly so, at that. To many, myself included, Robinson towers over the game of baseball a la the Colossus at Rhodes, marking a turning point in not only the game that we all know and love, but in the United States as a whole. The courage and grace that Robinson displayed has become a part of the mythology that is our sport’s history, transmogrifying the man himself into something of a myth. That is not to say, of course, that Robinson is not deserving of the mighty stature that has been affixed to his memory. Rather, that the narrative has markedly obscured one simple fact that seems to be glossed over in discussions and commemorations of the man who broke baseball’s color barrier:

Jackie Robinson was really freaking good at baseball.…

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The best Yankees by uniform number

I really enjoyed an article on ESPN’s SweetSpot Network by Diane Firstman on uniform numbers. I have written about uniform numbers quite a bit over the years and have enjoyed those written by others–especially those numbers that are retired around the league. Firstman’s article made me think about Yankee uniform numbers and the...

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The great batting race of 1984

Thirty years ago, the New York Yankees were a month away from starting a season that would be another in a long line of forgettable teams in the 1980s. They had finished in third place the year before, seven games behind the Orioles and Billy Martin was again replaced, this time by Yogi Berra. It was the famous year when the Detroit Tigers started the season 9-0 and then 19-2 and would run away and hide from the rest of the American League East. The Yankees best starter was a 45-year-old Phil Neikro. Graig Nettles, Don Baylor and Goose Gossage were gone. Ron Guidry and Shane Rawley had rough seasons after Marin fried them a bit in 1983. But despite the Yankees being toast by May of that season, it was also the year of one of the most exciting in-team batting races of all time.

Batting average was still a big deal back then. Though much less important today in the grand scheme of statistics, back in 1984, it was one of the most cherished titles in batting.…

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Ralph Kiner and the 1955 pennant race

Most New York baseball fans think of Ralph Kiner in association with his 53 amazing years of broadcasting for the New York Mets. But eight years before he first sat behind the microphone for the Mets, he almost had an impact on another New York team. Ralph Kiner was a member of the 1955 Cleveland Indians that fought down to the wire with the Yankees in that year’s pennant race.

1955 was Kiner’s tenth and last season in Major League Baseball and it was his first legitimate opportunity to play with a team that could go all the way. Just the season before, the Indians had won 111 of its 154 games to win the pennant by eight games over a Yankees team that won 103 games. The Indians were swept in the 1954 World Series by the New York Giants in one of the biggest upsets of the century.

Despite Kiner’s prodigious career to that point, the Indians picked him up as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Toothpick Sam Jones to the Cubs from Cleveland the previous September.…

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Scrapbooking and scorecards

Long before there was the Internet or ESPN or even cable television, there were three ways for me to keep up with the sport of baseball and my team, the New York Yankees. There were broadcasts of games on WPIX: Channel 11 (or on radio), newspapers like the New York Daily News and the Bergen Record and The Sporting News (TSN). The Sporting News of my youth was an over-sized magazine printed on newspaper paper. Its arrival on Friday or Saturday was always one of the highlights of the week.

At that time, TSN really covered sports in depth and baseball in particular. Each team was given at least a full page or possibly two from journalists who covered those teams. The writing was fantastic and probably sowed some of the seeds of my own desire to write.

After I devoured that thing from cover to cover over a four or five hour period, my fingertips would be black from the ink.…

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Girardi versus Torre in bullpen use

There is a common narrative when it comes to looking back on the two great Yankee managers over the last eighteen years. The narrative goes something like this: Joe Torre burned out his bullpens and Joe Girardi‘s use of his bullpen is one of his strengths as a manager. I have heard variations of those memes over the years and wondered if there was a way to measure the bullpen usage to see how true these narratives were. Once I put together all the numbers, the conclusion I came up with is that Torre really did not earn his reputation until the last five years of his tenure.

First, let’s look at the most basic of numbers, things like ERA, WHIP and bullpen losses. Each provides some insight to the conclusion.

Joe Girardi’s bullpens have beaten the average American League bullpen in ERA every season he has been the manager. His accumulative average bullpen is then higher than the league over that time period.…

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