Sunday, January 17, 2010

PTWSW #38: The 1941 New York Yankees

Manager: Joe McCarthy
Record: 101-53
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Owner: Jacob Ruppert Estate
GM: Ed Barrow
Coaches: Earle Combs, Art Fletcher, Johnny Schulte

Future Hall of Famers: Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Gomez, Joe Gordon, Phil Rizzuto, Red Ruffing

All-Stars: Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Charlie Keller, Red Ruffing, Marius Russo

Team Leaders, Batting

Joe DiMaggio, .357
OBP: Joe DiMaggio, .440
SLG: Joe DiMaggio, .643
OPS: Joe DiMaggio, 1.083
2B: Joe DiMaggio, 43
3B: Joe DiMaggio, 11
HR: Charlie Keller, 33
RBI: Joe DiMaggio, 125 (AL leader)
BB: Charlie Keller, 102
SB: Phil Rizzuto, 14

Team Leaders, Pitching

Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, 15
SO: Marius Russo, 105
ERA: Marius Russo, 3.09
IP: Marius Russo, 209.2
CG: Marius Russo, 17
SHO: Spud Chandler, 4
K/BB: Marius Russo, 1.21
SV: Johnny Murphy, 15 (AL leader)


Oldest Player:
Red Ruffing (b. May 3, 1905)

Youngest Player: Jerry Priddy (b. November 9, 1919)

First to Leave Us: Tiny Bonham (d. September 15, 1949). Less than a month after pitching in his last big league game, Bonham died of complications from appendicitis.

Last Survivor: Tommy Henrich (d. December 1, 2009)

First in Majors: Red Ruffing (debut May 31, 1924)

Last in Majors: Phil Rizzuto (final game August 16, 1956)

First to Play For the Franchise: Bill Dickey (August 15, 1928)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Phil Rizzuto (August 16, 1956)

Pre-union Team: Believe it or not, there was no pre-union team for the 1941 Yankees. No team ever previously had more than one of these players on its roster.

Reunion Team: Furthering the insularity of this group, the only reunion teams had two each: The 1943 Senators (Lefty Gomez and Jerry Priddy) and the 1950-51 Tigers (Charlie Keller and Jerry Priddy). Had it not been for Jerry Priddy this bunch might've had neither reunion nor pre-union team.


Joe DiMaggio, AL MVP
Joe DiMaggio, 56-game hitting streak

Season Summary

The talk of spring training was the sensational rookie double play combo of shortstop Phil Rizzuto and second baseman Jerry Priddy. The two had been teammates in the minors, and the organization was so high on both of them that Joe McCarthy shifted star second baseman Joe Gordon to first to accommodate Priddy. The realignment didn't work according to plan; both rookies struggled with the bat during their first month in the bigs, and on May 15 the Yanks were 14-15, 6.5 games out of first. McCarthy benched both youngsters, restoring Gordon to the keystone and veteran Frank Crosetti to his old shortstop position, while rookie Johnny Sturm took over first. The Yankees snapped a five-game losing streak with the new lineup in place and began their climb back to respectability. May 15 was also the day Joe DiMaggio's famous 56-game hitting streak began, and by the time it was snapped the Yankees had taken over first place. From June 7 to August 2 the Yankees went an unbelievable 44-8, and when it was all said and done they'd won the pennant by 17 games. Priddy never made it back into the regular starting lineup, but Rizzuto reclaimed shortstop when Crosetti was injured in June, and he made the most of his second chance by improving his batting average to .307.

The Yankees' offense wasn't the best in the game, but it came pretty close. Their 102 OPS+ and 5.32 runs per game were both second to the Red Sox, and their 151 homers led the league as usual. Their 112 ERA+ was top-notch, though it was only second-best to the White Sox. Their strikeout-to-walk ratio was third-best in the AL, but their league-leading DER helped them allow the fewest runs per game.

The World Series pitted the Yankees against the intracity rival Brooklyn Dodgers, the first of many times this matchup would occur in the Fall Classic. The Yankees had a 2-1 lead after the first three games, with each match decided by one run. Game 4 provided the defining moment of the Series. With two outs in the ninth inning Dodger relief ace Hugh Casey struck out Tommy Henrich for what should've been a 4-3 Brooklyn victory. Instead, catcher Mickey Owen dropped the third strike and Henrich reached first base, leading to a four-run Yankee rally that gave them a 3-1 Series lead. Tiny Bonham outdueled Whit Wyatt in Game 5 to give the pinstripers their ninth World Series title.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
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