Tuesday, November 3, 2009

PTWSW #20: The 1923 New York Yankees

Manager: Miller Huggins
Record: 98-54
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Owner: Col. Jacob Ruppert
GM: Ed Barrow
Coaches: Charley O'Leary

Future Hall of Famers: Lou Gehrig, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Babe Ruth

Team Leaders, Batting

Babe Ruth, .393
OBP: Babe Ruth, .545 (AL leader)
SLG: Babe Ruth, .764 (AL leader)
OPS: Babe Ruth, 1.309 (AL leader)
2B: Babe Ruth, 45
3B: Babe Ruth, 13
HR: Babe Ruth, 41 (AL leader)
RBI: Babe Ruth, 131 (AL leader)
BB: Babe Ruth, 170 (AL leader)
SB: Babe Ruth, 17

(You think the offense had a clear-cut leader?)

Team Leaders, Pitching

Sam Jones, 21
SO: Joe Bush, Bob Shawkey, 125
ERA: Waite Hoyt, 3.02
IP: Joe Bush, 275.2
CG: Joe Bush, 22
SHO: Joe Bush, Sam Jones, 3
K/BB: Herb Pennock, 1.37
SV: Sam Jones, 4


Oldest Player:
Ernie Johnson (b. April 29, 1888)

Youngest Player: Lou Gehrig (b. June 19, 1903)

First to Leave Us: Lou Gehrig (d. June 2, 1941). We all know the sad story. The youngest member of the first Yankee World Series champs was the first to pass on, but he sandwiched a Hall of Fame career between his debut and his death.

Last Survivor: Whitey Witt (d. July 14, 1988)

First in Majors: Herb Pennock (debut May 14, 1912)

Last in Majors: Lou Gehrig (final game April 30, 1939)

First to Play For the Franchise: Wally Pipp (April 14, 1915)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Lou Gehrig (April 30, 1939). Wow! The guy playing first base on Opening Day 1915 would be the longest-tenured Yankee by the time the franchise finally won a World Series, and the guy who replaced him a few years later wouldn't miss a game until his career ended, by which point he also would be the longest-tenured Yankee. It's safe to say these guys were set at the initial cushion for a while.

Pre-union Team: The 1919 Red Sox had an astounding nine players who'd later join this team: Joe Bush, Waite Hoyt, Sam Jones, Carl Mays, Mike McNally, Herb Pennock, Babe Ruth, Wally Schang and Everett Scott. Of course, the story behind it is now semi-famous. Red Sox owner Harry Frazee wasn't popular among the other American League owners, and the Yankees and White Sox were the only two teams who agreed to trade with him. When Frazee ran into financial troubles, Yankee GM (and former Red Sox manager) Ed Barrow was only too happy to take his best players off his hands. It should also be noted that this team had a strong Athletics connection. Three of these former Red Sox actually came from Philadelphia by way of Boston (Bush, Pennock and Schang) and Joe Dugan, Bob Shawkey and Whitey Witt all played for Connie Mack in the previous decade.

Reunion Team: The 1926 Reds (Carl Mays, Wally Pipp, Everett Scott) and 1931 Tigers (Joe Dugan, Waite Hoyt, Wally Schang) had three each.


Sam Jones, no-hitter on September 4
Babe Ruth, AL MVP

Season Summary

When you think of this era's Yankees you probably think of a dominating offense led by the home run ball Babe Ruth pioneered. Well...you'd be close. The Yanks led the AL in homers, but their offense wasn't very deep after Ruth. So great was the Babe though, that the Yankees finished second in runs scored and third in OPS+. Their run prevention was the real key to their success. Their team ERA+, strikeout-to-walk ratio and defensive efficiency were all league tops. Frustrated after two straight World Series defeats, the Yankees bolstered their rotation by acquiring Herb Pennock from the Red Sox. Pennock would go 19-6 with a 126 ERA+ (both good for second on the team) and win two World Series games, including the clinching Game 6. He was a strong addition to an already-strong staff that included Joe Bush, Waite Hoyt, Sam Jones and Bob Shawkey.

The season began with the opening of the legendary "House That Ruth Built," AKA Yankee Stadium. No longer would the Yankees have to share the Polo Grounds with the Giants. Fittingly, Ruth hit the ballpark's first home run in the third inning on Opening Day. Another noteworthy change came in May, when co-owner Jacob Ruppert bought out his partner Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston to gain complete control of the franchise. The pennant race was nothing worth mentioning, as the Yankees were never out of first after May 4 and won the league by 16 games.

For the third year in a row the Yankees' National League opponent in October was the Giants. It looked like the same old story when the Giants led the Series 2-1 after three games, but the Yankees stormed back with decisive wins in the next two matches. Game 6 was won when the Yanks used a five-run eighth to come from behind. Incredibly, Babe Ruth struck out in his only at-bat during the rally. It was Bob Meusel's two-run single (plus a third run that scored on a throwing error) that gave the pinstripers their final and Series-clinching lead.


Baseball Reference
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