Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #294, George Medich (Article 56)
by Paul Semendinger
(Continuing a series…)
Doc Medich was, I believe, a better pitcher than people realize, but his greatest contribution to the Yankees was in getting traded. I’ll get into all of that in due time…
In 1974, his first full season as a Yankee, he made 32 starts. He won 14 games (against 9 losses) and sported a nifty 2.95 ERA. That year he hurled 235 innings. Today, that would make him a true ace. All this when he was just 24-years-old.
When was the last time the Yankees had a 24-year-old starter that was that good?
Some might say that Luis Severino was that good when he was 24. It’s close, but I think Medich gets the edge. Medich out performed Severino in innings (235.0 to 191.1) and Medich pitched to a lower ERA (2.95 to 3.39) although Luis Severino’s win loss percentage was appreciably better (19-8 compared to 14-9). The point here though is that Medich was seen as the real deal. He was young and he was good. Real good.
Imagine the hype if he were pitching for the Yankees today.
Oh, and don’t forget that by that time, he was a M.D.
Doc Medich followed-up his great age-24 season by winning 19 games as a 25-year-old pitcher. In 1975, Medich went 19-15, 3.60 over 279.2 innings.
In 1975, he went 16-16, 3.50 over another 272.2 innings. Man was this kid good.
Imagine today what a 27-year-old pitcher with 49 wins and a 3.37 ERA over three seasons would be worth. Imagine that record with a guy who also averaged 262 innings per year.
Over those same ages, Gerrit Cole won 38 games, sported an ERA of 3.52, and averaged 176 innings per season.
Again, all of this to say that Doc Medich was the real deal. He was really good. Today he’s largely forgotten. (When was he last invited back to Old Timer’s Day, if ever?)
If he were pitching today, Doc Medich would be a $30M a year pitcher. (In his age 24-26 seasons, Trevor Bauer won 40 games with a 4.33 ERA and averaged 181 innings a season.)
And it was the Yankees’ great fortune that when they traded him, that Doc Medich has already thrown the best baseball he ever would.
Before the 1976 season, the Yankees traded Doc (Medich) for Dock (Ellis), Ken Brett, and a rookie second baseman named Willie Randolph. This would go on to become one of the best trades the Yankees ever made.
Willie Randolph would go on to be a Yankees great – one of the best ever at second base. But we’ll get to him in a second.
Dock Ellis was also no slouch. At all. In 1976, his first season as a Yankee, he won 17 games (against just 8 losses) with a 3.19 ERA over 211.2 innings. He also proved to be valuable in another way. The next season, in April 1977, he was traded to the A’s for Mike Torrez would would go on to go 14-12 for the World Champion Yankees. It was Torrez who was on the mound when the final out of the 1977 World Series was recorded. (And then the next year, of course, after leaving the Yankees as a Free Agent Torrez gave up Bucky Dent’s famous homer in the one game playoff with the Red Sox.)
Conversely, as a Pirate, George Medich was not exactly what the doctor had ordered. He went just 8-11, 3.51. He only threw 179.1 innings.
In 1977, he was traded to the Oakland A’s (where he’d be teammates with Dock Ellis). Later in 1977, he was sold to the Mariners. Medich’s traveling medical show moved on and on. Less than two weeks later, the Mets claimed him. He gained free agency after the season and signed with the Texas Rangers.
In short, between 1976 and 1977, George Medich was a member of the Yankees, Pirates, A’s, Mariners, Mets, and Rangers organizations.
Doc Medich pitched for the Rangers until 1982 with middling success. He went 50-43, 3.95 as a Ranger. He’d finish his career at the end of the 1982 season with the Milwaukee Brewers.
How did the Yankees know that Doc Medich has pitched his best innings? (They probably didn’t.)
Also in that initial trade with the Pirates was Ken Brett. The Yankees traded Brett in May of that year for Carlos May (who batted .278 in 87 games) would play an important role for the 1976 A.L. Champion Yankees.
And then there was Willie Randolph. He’d play for the Yankees through the 1988 season, eventually becoming co-Captain with Ron Guidry. Willie Randolph was one of the most beloved Yankees of all-time – and one day might even find himself in the Hall-of-Fame… he was that good.
Doc Medich was a very good Yankees pitcher, but his trade got the Yankees the pieces they needed for their 1976 World Series team (Willie Randolph, Dock Ellis and (indirectly) Carlos May) and, in Randolph, one of the most important Yankees of all time.