No. 269 David Cone (Number 62 Pitcher)

David Cone to me was my idea of a guy who was “have fastball will travel”. I considered him the Kenny Loften of pitchers, someone who goes to a team late in the season and help them makes the playoffs and fills a spot in the lineup or rotation.

However, Cone only did that twice. Coming to Toronto to the Mets in 1992. Cone pitched better than his won-loss record shows for Toronto. He didn’t pitch that well in his first start of the series, but pitched well to start game 6, giving up 1 run in six innings and leaving with a 2-1 lead. Cone looked like he was going to get the victory in the clinching game, but Tom Henke gave up the tying run in the 9th. However, Toronto won it 4-3 in 11 innings, so Cone started the clinching game.

The second time was Cone came to the Yankees from Toronto, after being in Kansas City two years in between. Cone pitched well for his new team again. Cone then won a game against Seattle, but the Yankees lost that series.

This is how Cone’s image differs from how I remember him. He stayed with the Yankees the next five years and pitched with them in the post season each year. He was 5-1 with the Yankees in the post season those five years and the Yankees won 4 World Series titles. Along with the win with Toronto, Cone was a member of five World Series winning teams.

I thought Cone pitched with a lot more teams, that the five (Kansas City, Mets, Toronto, Yankees and Red Sox) teams he did pitch. However, he did pitch for all but the Yankees and Red Sox twice.

Cone won 20 games twice, which isn’t a lot, but Cone’s era was when we started seeing less and less 20 game winners. He won 20 games early in his career with the Mets and late in his career with the Yankees.

That being said he had his two best seasons in his two full seasons with the Royals at ages 30 and 31 according to Baseball Reference WAR. I don’t know about that; Cone gave up a lot of walks in 1993 the first of those two years. He won the Cy Young Award in 1994 the second year. His stats don’t look great, but it was a shortened season. I looked at the candidates and would say Cone was comfortably, but dominantly ahead of Randy Johnson who finished and third, but of whom I would have voted in second place.

One thing I had forgotten but was reminded in my research was Roger Angell wrote a biography about Cone. I remember that part, but I forgotten the part where Cone had the worst year of his career in that year, 2000. The Yankees won the World Series without any help from Cone that year, even though he was on the team and pitched (in relief) in the World Series. In fact, they won despite David Cone’s effort.

The surprising thing was he stayed a starter the whole season. He started 29 games which tied him for third on the team that year. He was 4-14 with an ERA of 6.91 yet pitched 155 innings. He was below replacement level for the year. I wondered how the Yankees had a World Championship team with such a bad pitcher in their rotation. One area where the Yankees lucked out was they only won 89 games, but no one was outstanding in their division. They held on despite a poor finish. Then the Yankees pitched well enough in the post season to beat three quality teams. Go figure, it’s the Yankees.

Cone pitched okay with the Red Sox in 2001, didn’t pitch at all in 2002. He tried to pitch for the Mets in 2003 but didn’t pitch well and retired.

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