Red Ruffing is the fourth pitcher out of twelve I selected to be in my hall of fame. The first three were Billy Pierce, Ed Walsh, and Rick Reuschel.
Ruffing won 20 games four times in his career. He won them from 1936 to 1939 the four years the Yankees were probably the greatest team of all time. However, he had other great years with the Yankees. Really none with the Red Sox who he pitched for seven years when he was young. People wonder why Ruffing was bad with the Red Sox and great with the Yankees. He had better fielders with the Yankees. The Yankees were better all-around teams. I’m pretty sure the coaching was better with the Yankees. He might have matured. I noticed after 1934 his strikeouts decrease, but his walks per game also decreased.
I want to take a close look how Ruffing did with the Yankees from 1936 to 1939 when they were probably the greatest short dynasty of all time. In 1936 Ruffing led the team in wins, innings and WAR. Lefty Gomez had a mediocre year and Monte Pearson was the second best pitcher on the team that year. In fact he battled Ruffing for club ace, but Ruffing has a lot more innings and a lot better walk rate.
In 1937 Lefty Gomez had a great year and despite improving Ruffing was the second-best pitcher on the team. Pearson pitched well but pitched a lot less innings.
Ruffing led the Yankees in WAR in 1938. Part of that was due to his hitting. He was slightly better as a pitcher than Lefty Gomez that year. In 1939 Ruffing was easily the best pitcher on the team.
I was thinking of post season for the Yankees. Including 1932 they were 20-3 in the post season in the 1930s. They lost two games to Carl Hubble. I talked about Pearson being 4-0 in the post season in an earlier post. Well, Lefty Gomez was 6-0 and Ruffing was 5-1 in the 1930s. Ruffing was also 2-1 in the 1940s. That makes the 3 pitchers 15-1 in the 1930s. So, the Yankees went 5-2 without their 3 main pitchers in the post season. Let me see who had the other decisions.
In 1932, George Pipgras won game 3 and Wilcy Moore won game 4. It is interesting that hall of famer Herb Pennock saved both games 3 and 4 of the series.
In 1936, Red Ruffing suffered his only loss in the World Series in the 1930s losing game 1 to Carl Hubbell. Ruffing didn’t have a good World Series as he didn’t pitch that well in game 5. However, Pat Malone who saved game 3 lost game 5 in extra innings. Malone saved game 3 for Bump Hadley. Gomez won two games that series and of course Pearson won his only start. This puts the other pitchers at 3-1.
In 1937, Carl Hubbell got his second victory in the World Series in game 4 beating Bump Hadley. The big 3 went 4-0 in the series.
In 1938, the big 3 pitched all but 2 innings. Johnny Murphy saved game 2 for Lefty Gomez. Ruffing had two complete game victories in the series.
In 1939, Red Ruffing started game one and gave up one run in a 2-1 victory. Monte Pearson didn’t have a good year, but Joe McCarthy pitched him anyway. Pearson pitched a 2-hit shutout with one walk. Gomez was hurt late in the year, but he convinced McCarthy to let him start game 3. McCarthy relented, but it didn’t work out. He pulled a muscle in his stomach a second time. Bump Hadley came in and gave up 2 runs in the second to put Cincinnati ahead 3-2. Joe DiMaggio hit a two-run homer in the top of the third putting the Yankees back on top. Hadley then pitched 7 scoreless innings for the victory. Johnny Murphy pitched 3.1 innings of relief giving up 1 run to get the victory in extra innings for the Yankees and four game sweep.