1927 Yankees Roster Was an Embarrassment of Riches

Babe Ruth and the rest of the 1927 Yankees' Murderers' Row
Babe Ruth and the rest of the 1927 Yankees' Murderers' Row /

The 1927 Yankees roster wasn’t nicknamed Murderers’ Row recklessly.

Decades before power was a well-embraced part of the game of baseball, the Yankees innovated in the department, surrounding Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig with a requisite cadre of mashers (as well as a few Hall of Famers in the rotation, too).

Though the name has come to describe the entire outfit, the first six hitters were the true “murderers” — Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Ruth, Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri. Combs and Lazzeri would eventually join their three-four combo in Cooperstown; Combs was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970, and Lazzeri joined him posthumously in 1991.

As a whole, the 1927 Yankees scored 975 runs and hit .307…as a team. There was not one weak link in a nine-man unit that all worked together to approximate DJ Lemahieu’s career average. Combs, known as the Kentucky Colonel, hit .356. Lazzeri hit 18 homers and knocked in 102 runs from the second base position, which would stand out in today’s game. In 1927, it broke the mold entirely.

But the 110-win team’s dominance didn’t stop on offense.

The 1927 Yankees’ roster was as complete as any in the franchise’s history.

Waite Hoyt (22-7, 2.63) and Herb Pennock (19-8, 3.00) led the Yankees’ rotation, which was a big deal, since they had both been Red Sox property earlier in the decade. Yes, Boston really let that happen again. The Babe wasn’t the only Hall of Famer who switched sides in the century’s first quarter. 36-year-old Urban Shocker emerged to throw 200 innings of 2.84-ERA baseball, and Dutch Reuther followed behind with 184 well-eaten frames. Not a singular hole to be found.

And, oh yeah — the team’s “closer” Wilcy Moore also threw 213 innings, finishing 30 games at a time when relievers were generally not very ace-like.

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The 2020 New York Yankees are firmly in the midst of a championship window, and might fall in lockstep with the pace of their 100-win predecessors in 2018 and ’19. But call me when their rotation and lineup innovate on the form of a 25-man roster like the 1927 Yankees did.