I’ve been on a little bit of a Hall-of-Fame kick since the Derek Jeter induction two weeks ago, and have been thinking of a very specific question:
What would be the best Yankees team one could make using only non-Hall of Fame players?
Through the rest of this week, I will make this team. Today we highlight our first team pitchers.
Given that this question I became consumed with is specific in nature in narrowing down an entire franchise into effectively one team while excluding the most prominent names of typical discussion (a.k.a Hall-of-Famers), I also wanted to make sure I was honoring players who played long enough in pinstripes to be deserving of the honor. Thus, I’ve also come up with my own rules for requirement:
Position players need to have played 7 years of baseball for the New York Yankees (While pitchers had to pitch 5+ years with the Yankees).
They cannot have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, be eligible on/for a current/future ballot for the HOF, or currently be playing baseball in the MLB.
Only their time in New York is being considered for their placing/inclusion on the list.
Now that we have these rules understood, let’s get into it!
All-NYY Non-HOF Pitchers:
Starting Pitcher: Andy Pettitte
Years in NY: 1995-2003; 2007-2010; 2012-2013
Pitching Line: 219-127 Record, 3.94 ERA (115 ERA+), 51.3 bWAR
So, I broke my own rules for inclusion on this team given that Andy Pettitte is still on the BBWAA ballot (which I somehow always forget). I don’t believe he will get in via the BBWAA before his 10 years is up (he’s at 13.7% after 3 years), though I have had him on my fictional ballot each of the last 3 years.
Regardless, there is no doubt that Pettitte is currently the best pitcher in Yankees history who is not in the HOF. He was just a 3-time All-Star, but he won 5 World Series and finished in the Top-5 for the Cy Young three times with the Yankees.
He’s also one of the best postseason pitchers ever with his 18 Yankee wins and his career 3.81 postseason ERA.Embed from Getty Images
Starting Pitcher: Ron Guidry
Years in NY: 1975-1988
Pitching Line: 170-91 Record, 3.29 ERA (119 ERA+), 47.8 bWAR
A career Yankee, the Louisiana Lightning is the most decorated of the pitchers on the team. A Cy Young winner (nearly winning the MVP too), 4-time All-Star, 2-time World Series winner, and 5-time gold glover winner, Guidry also took home two ERA titles.
He pitched for the Yankees for 14 years and has their 4th highest WAR for pitchers in franchise history. He could be a HOF’er one day, but I wouldn’t hedge my bets.Embed from Getty Images
Starting Pitcher: Mel Stottlemyre
Years in NY: 1964-1974
Pitching Line: 164-139 Record, 2.97 ERA (112 ERA+), 43.1 bWAR
Falling off the HOF ballot after just 1 year, Mel Stottlemyre was another great Yankees pitcher during his playing career, but he became a Yankee legend as he helped coach the team during their dynasty of the late 1990’s/early-2000’s.
He was a 5-time All Star and he just missed out on winning a World Series with the Yankees as a player. However, he did win 4 during his coaching years.Embed from Getty Images
Starting Pitcher: Bob Shawkey
Years in NY: 1915-1927
Pitching Line: 168-131 Record, 3.12 ERA (117 ERA+), 43.2 bWAR
The pitcher with the least accolades on our team, Bob Shawkey was a great pitcher in the 1910’s and 1920’s. Unfortunately, he also pitched before All-Star games and the Cy Young award (though I suspect he may have won one if they were around during his career).
Shawkey was also the first pitcher to pitch at the Old Yankee Stadium as he was their Opening day pitcher for the 1923 season. During that season he would also win his only World Series.Embed from Getty Images
Starting Pitcher: David Cone
Years in NY: 1995-2000
Pitching Line: 64-40 Record, 3.91 ERA (118 ERA+), 20.3 bWAR
Another pitcher who fell off of the BBWAA ballot after only one year, David Cone is a pitcher who should be heavily evaluated by a committee to make the HOF one day. His career totals are right in line with his pitching peers across baseball history.
As a Yankee, David Cone was a great player in his short time as he helped the team showcase a dynasty in the late-1990’s and 2000 (while beating his former team in the World Series). It also helps that he’s arguably the best member of the YES booth for current games.Embed from Getty Images
Relief Pitcher: Sparky Lyle
Years in NY: 1972-1978
Pitching Line: 348 Games Finished, 2.41 ERA (148 ERA+), 14.9 bWAR
After Rivera and Hoffman made the BBHOF there may be some more love that goes to the relievers of old. One great name is Sparky Lyle (who I have met, which gives him bonus points. I never said I wasn’t corrupt!) who was a dominant reliever for the Yankees.
The winner of the 1977 AL Cy Young award (remember: as a reliever!), Lyle was also a 3-time All-Star and 2-time World Series champion with the Yanks. He was only with them for 7 years, ultimately requesting to be traded as the Yankees got back…Embed from Getty Images
Relief Pitcher: Dave Righetti
Years in NY: 1979; 1981-1990
Pitching Line: 379 Games Finished, 3.11 ERA (127 ERA+), 22.9 bWAR
Yup, in the trade where the Yankees got rid of a former AL CY Young reliever, the Yankees got back their best (non-HOF) reliever in Dave Righetti. He didn’t have the same accolades (though he came close in 1986), though he was a Rookie of the Year (as a starter), a 2-time All-Star, and a 2-time Reliever of the year.
Though he never won a World Series with the Yanks, he did do something much more rare: pitching a no-hitter in 1983. The following year the Yankees moved him to the bullpen, and from then on he went from a good to a great player in pinstripes.Embed from Getty Images