Yankees: The Five Most Effective Pitchers In Franchise History

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Yankees Stadium: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees and their 27 World Championships demonstrate the fact that great pitching has taken them a long way. Seven Yankees pitchers are now in the Hall Of Fame. But of them all, who can be ranked as the Most Effective Yankees Pitchers In Franchise History?

If Yankees history tells us anything, it’s that greatness is defined in a number of ways. A moment in time, for instance, as in the case of Roger Maris, who defied all odds hitting 61 in 61, despite the fury of the media that aligned with Babe Ruth, can be defined as greatness. Similarly, the steady accumulation of base hits over a twenty-year career, as in the case of Derek Jeter, can, without question, be greatness.

If Yankees history tells us anything, it’s that greatness is defined in a number of ways.

To give an example, I will cherry pick the name of Wilbur Wood, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox in the early to mid-1970’s. On the surface, you can look at his record and note that he won 20 or more games four consecutive years, and say to yourself, huh, he was a dominant pitcher. But if you look closer, you’ll also note that his overall record was 24-20 in one year and 20-19 in the second season, raising the question of how effective was he, and what was his overall contribution to his team?

And so it is for that reason I choose a word other than “great,” in selecting the Five Most Effective Pitchers In Yankees History. Also, know in advance that this is for entertainment purposes. I have not performed a two-year empirical study a la Bill James, for instance, to arrive at the names of these pitchers. Having said that, though, I also believe that you will have little argument with any of the selections.

What I have done, though is eliminate any Yankees pitcher who pitched before 1950. Again, this is for entertainment purposes and based on the reason that few, if any, of us, remember the likes of Jack Chesbro, Red Ruffing, or Herb Pennock (to name a few) pitching for the Yankees.

I have also used the following stat categories as a gauge in making the selections, which seems to me to be as accurate as any, for these purposes. They are:
Earned Run Average (ERA)
Won-Lost Percentage
Fewest Walks
Walks Plus Hits Per Inning (WHIP)

Subjectively, I also eliminated pitchers who pitched for the Yankees, but not for any meaningful length of time. This means, for instance, that the likes of Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Jim “Catfish” Hunter are eliminated.

Finally, I relied heavily on a list provided by Baseball Reference, which depicts the top ten Yankees franchise pitchers in a variety of categories.

So let’s begin with a profile of the Fifth Most Effective Yankees Pitcher: