COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#46)
By Paul Semendinger
I always wonder when I get to the retired numbers, and I am sure I’ll find one or more somewhere along the way, where the number is retired for one player, but there was a different player who wore than number who was actually greater as a Yankee.
For example, #9 is retired for Roger Maris. I believe that Graig Nettles had a more significant Yankees career than Roger Maris. I would assume Nettles’ WAR is better. But, I won’t truly know until I write that essay which is still some time away…
We know that Andy Pettitte was #46 as a Yankee. The number is retired for him. I am going to assume, going in, that he was the best ever at #46, but when I write these, I always wonder if there is a surprise lurking…
One thing I have always liked about #46 is that two of my favorite Yankees ever wore that number when they first arrived in the big leagues.
Don Mattingly wore #46 before switching to #23 in 1984. A few years later, Mike Pagliarulo wore #46 before changing to #13.
In total 28 Yankees wore #46.
Andy Pettitte is, by far, the greatest ever to wear #46.
Of the twenty-eight Yankees who have worn #46, the following are the only players to wear the number for more than one season:
Rick Dempsey (1973-76)
Gene Locklear (1976-77)
Don Mattingly (1982-84)
Henry Cotto (1985-87)
And then there is Andy Pettitte.
Andy Pettitte wore #46…
In 447 games
Over 2,796.1 innings
Earning 219 wins
Against just 127 losses
Andy Pettitte ranks among the Yankees Top 10 pitchers in the following categories:
Games Started (1st)
Andy Pettitte went 18-10 as a Yankee in the post season.
Was Andy Pettitte the best ever at #46? Absolutely. Of that there is no doubt.
Should #46 be retired for him? I used to think not, but when a player is so great that he’s at the top of some of a team’s most important pitching categories… a case can be made.
I think Andy Pettitte will one day be in the Hall-of-Fame. Then the retired number would make even more sense.
Most of the background research for this project came from Baseball-Reference.com.
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