No. 201 Red Ruffing (Number 45 Pitcher)

I picked Red Ruffing as he was the best pitcher on the greatest dynasty of all time the 1936-1939 New York Yankees. I don’t think team in baseball dominated as much as those four Yankee teams. I am not the only one. Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein wrote a book called “Baseball Dynasty’s the Greatest Baseball Teams of all Time”. The evaluated what they considered the 15 greatest teams. At the end each author rated their top 15. Both rated the 1936-1939 New York Yankees number 1.

So, I am going to evaluate the key players on this team. The starting pitchers were:

  1. Red Ruffing: Having the 45th best starting pitcher on your list isn’t the greatest, but you are getting a solid starter. I have him close to the top 1 percent of players of all time. He was great with the Yankees.
  2. Lefty Gomez: He actually had the best season overall in the dynasty in 1937. He is also a Hall of Famer, but my formula disagrees with this. I have him as the 174th best pitcher and 669th best player. He is almost 100 points away from being Hall of Fame eligible in my opinion. He had two super years (1934 and 1937) out of context with the rest of his career. Still a great number two pitcher as he was hurt by his somewhat short career.
  3. Monte Pearson: I have him as my 455th best pitcher. That might have been a little high, because I am sure there are pitchers better than him I didn’t rate. I wrote an article about him earlier. He was one of the greatest post season pitchers ever considering his actual pitching abilities.
  4. Bump Hadley: I have him as my 265th best pitcher and the 952nd best player of all time. This surprised me because I never paid much attention to Hadley. He was a solid pitcher for a long time.

These four starters were 15-2 Yankees in the four World Series. They were 1-1 otherwise. The other victory went to their relief ace for those years Johnny Murphy. Murphy didn’t have a great ERA but starting in 1938 he led the league 4 times in the next five years. I have him as my 95th all-time relief pitcher. This is better than it looks as I have only two pitchers on my list who pitched before World War II in my top 100. Murphy and Firpo Marberry my 28th greatest reliever and 705th greatest player. So, Murphy was given a role he could handle by his manager Joe McCarthy.

McCarthy would be my choice for the greatest manager of all time. He won 5 pennants and 3 World Series outside these 4 years. If he did one or the other he would probably be a Hall of Fame manager.

Spud Chandler was the fifth starter in 1938 and appeared to be injured in 1939.

Now for the position players:

C – Bill Dickey – He is my 6th greatest catcher and 72nd greatest player. He was an easy Hall of Famer and was arguably the best catcher of all time in baseball to that point. He did when a couple of votes for that.

1B – Lou Gehrig – He is my best first baseman and 16th best player. He was older, but still had good seasons in 1936 and 1937. He was still solid in 1938 but could no longer play in 1939. Babe Dahlgren took his place. In 1939 he had negative WAR. However, I do think Dahlgren improved the team defensively in 1939. Reading between the lines Gehrig had more problems on defense then on offense. The team in 1939 won 106 games despite have a first baseman who was well below average hitter, not for first base but all over the field.

2B – Tony Lazzeri replaced by Joe Gordon. One Hall of Fame second baseman replacing the other in the middle of a dynasty. Lazzeri was past his prime and not that great. He started in 1936 and 1937 before being replaced by Gordon. He is 377th player and 25th second baseman on my list. I have no problem with him being elected to the hall of fame as he met my minimum qualifications, but he wouldn’t be my first choice. In fact, Joe Gordon was my first choice. He is my 20th second baseman and my 232nd player. He is in my Hall of Fame. He took a year to adjust (1938) but played at a Hall of Fame level in 1939.

3B – Red Rolfe is my 999th player and 83rd 3rd baseman. I always thought he was better. He was great at getting on base and scored a lot of runs. For his time, he was a fair power hitter. He had season in 1939. I believe he and Joe Gordon helped make up for Gehrig being gone. It is strange because he had a terrible hitting season in 1940. He never really batted well after that. He is hurt because he didn’t have a long career, but he wasn’t really an all-star player anyway.

SS – Frankie Crosetti is my 994th player and 75th Shortstop. So, both Rolfe and Crosetti are barely in my top 1,000. The thing is I might have missed some players so they could go down in the ratings. My point is not that the top 1,000 players should be in the hall of fame. Neither player would I vote for. My thing is that these players, whoever they may be are still good players. They are about in the top 5 percent of all time. Crosetti basically peaked from 1934 to 1938. He was still decent in 1939. He scored 100 runs 4 times in his career guess what years? Right, 1936 to 1939.

CF – Joe DiMaggio He is 5th in center field and 43rd all time. This is in only 13 years of play, so he was an outstanding player to accomplish that. One thing people don’t note about his career was he was a better player before the war then after the war. He played 7 seasons before the war and 6 after. However, 6 of his top 7 seasons came before the war according to Baseball Reference WAR. The exceptions being 1948 was 5th best season. DiMaggio’s rookie year was his 10th best season.

OF – I am going to start showing the starters by year other than DiMaggio as this is where a lot changes happened:

1936: George Selkirk, Jake Powell. Selkirk had a solid season, Powell did not.

1937: Myril Hoag, Jake Powell. Neither one had a good season. Powell must have looked better on defense then his stats showed. However, George Selkirk player a lot still and I’m guessing he was hurt part of the season. Tommy Henrich also came off the bench and played a lot. Both Selkirk and Henrich are rated better in 1937. Let’s see who played in the post season. Heinrich didn’t play in the World Series due to a knee injury. Hoag and Selkirk started in the World Series. Powell had one at bat. Hoag actually hit well during the Series.

1938: George Selkirk and Tommy Henrich were the starters this time with Hoag and Powell on the bench. Heinrich and Selkirk started in the World Series but Hoag started one game in Selkirk’s place.

1939: George Selkirk, Charlie Keller. Tommy Henrich was the fourth outfielder. Both Selkirk and Keller were good hitters that year. In the World Series Selkirk and Keller started. Tommy Henrich didn’t make an appearance and I can’t find why.

Here are these outfielders career wise:

George Selkirk: I have Selkirk as my 114th right fielder. It is hard to believe this is right because there are probably others I didn’t rate who could rate before him.

Tommy Henrich: Henrich is my 44th right fielder and my 444th place overall. His career was only 11 years in part because he missed 3 seasons due to World War II. He is close to my don’t mind If he is in the Hall of Fame, but I don’t think he was a Hall of Famer.

Charlie Keller: Keller is my 37th left fielder and is 352nd overall. He played 13 seasons but had only 6 where he played over 100 games because of a bad back. He became a backup player after that. He was excellent in the role, but you can’t accumulate many stats as a backup. He is in the slot where I don’t mind he is elected, he has some advocates, but I don’t see it.

Myril Hoag and Jake Powell weren’t even good enough for me to rate. They are no where close to the top 1,000.

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