Does pitching really win championships? Yes, but …

21 10 2015

This concludes my series on Yankee starting pitchers.

This series started with an observation that the Yankees haven’t had many all-time great starters, but have won more world championships than any other team. I raised the question then about how could that be, if pitching actually wins championships?

I’ve covered notable pitchers in a variety of posts since then: Yankees in the Hall of Fame, Yankees who belong in the Hall of Fame, Yankees who had great careers but won’t make the Hall of Fame, and so on.

But I still haven’t thoroughly examined the question that started this discussion. So that’s where I’ll wrap it up. The Yankees have won so many championships without all-time great starting pitchers for a variety of reasons:

  • Pitching does win championships, but so do other factors. Yankee champion teams were often better at those factors than at starting pitching.
  • Pitching does win championships, but even an all-time great starting pitcher pitches only every few days. Depth of a rotation might be more important to winning a championship than having an all-time great as your No. 1 starter.
  • Pitching does win championships, but starting pitching is not all of pitching. Yankee closers rank higher on all-time-best lists than Yankee starters.
  • Managing, especially management of the pitching staff, wins championships.
  • Yankee starting pitchers have actually been pretty great. If not for the Hall of Fame biases against Yankees (and against longevity), Yankees would easily have more pitchers in the Hall of Fame than any other team.

I’ll elaborate on these points in order: Read the rest of this entry »

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Comparing Yankees to other teams in starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame

20 10 2015

This continues my series on Yankee starting pitchers.

Six pitchers might seem like a lot of Hall of Famers, and it is.

The Yankees have six starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame who pitched primarily for New York. But if great pitching wins championships, a team with 27 champions ought to have more than six pitchers in the Hall of Fame who primarily pitched for that team (keep in mind that Jack Chesbro, one of the six, pitched for the New York Highlanders before any of the Yankee championships).

Though I’m focused on starters here and only counting them, I also should note that the Yankees were the primary team of Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage. And Mariano Rivera is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer, presuming his reputation remains unscathed the next few years.

But the starting pitcher is the most important player in every game and a team can’t win a championship without solid starting pitching. And you can’t win a bunch of championships without a bunch of great starting pitchers.

Let’s see how other teams stack up: Read the rest of this entry »





Yankee starting pitchers with family connections in baseball

15 10 2015

This continues my series on Yankee starting pitchers.

The Yankees have had either or both of some of the best brother pitching acts in baseball history.

Of course, every sport has family connections. The combination of genetics and shared good coaching from fathers and youth coaches, plus probably some sibling competition (and perhaps some sibling advice and modeling) result in lots of brother and father-son combos in every sport. I don’t know if baseball has more than other sports or if the combos are more prevalent among pitchers than other positions. It seems that way to me, though.

But I do know that lots of brother combos have taken the mound in the major leagues, and some of the best have stopped, at least briefly, with the Yankees.

I think because pitching requires such a combination of natural talent and technique, brothers tend to be either all pitchers or all position players. One exception, though, included a brief Yankee: George Brett‘s brother, Ken, pitched two games in relief for the 1976 Yankees.

Four of the top nine pitching brother combos in baseball history, according to Bleacher Report, included at least one brother who pitched at least briefly for the Yankees.

I’d say that three of the four brothers in the best two pitching brother combos pitched for the Yankees.

Perrys and Niekros

The Maddux, PerryNiekro and Mathewson brothers each have one brother with 300 wins. Read the rest of this entry »