New York Yankees: 2012 Team Might Rival the 1961 and 1998 Yankees Seasons

by on November 16th, 2010
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The 2012 New York Yankees have a chance to rank among the greatest of all Yankees teams. They could become the fourth greatest, behind the 1998, 1927 and 1961 clubs. They could fail to win the pennant.

I never saw the 1927 Yankees but I did see almost every game the 1961 Yankees played. I suffered for seven excruciating innings in Game 3 of the 1961 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds until Johnny Blanchard tied the game in the eighth inning and Roger Maris won it in the ninth inning.

Going down to the Reds, two games to one with an injured Mickey Mantle unable to play would not have been good. Being upset by the Pittsburgh Pirates the previous season was still too fresh.

The 1961 club was my favorite until the 1998 team came along. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are no longer on my favorite all-time team.

The 1927 Yankees starters were Waite Hoyt (22-7, 148 ERA+), Herb Pennock (19-8, 130 ERA+), Urban Shocker (18-6. 137 ERA+) and Dutch Reuther (13-6, 115). Wilcy Moore was the top relief pitcher, but he was also a spot starter (19-7, 13 saves. 12 starts, 171 ERA+)

The 1927 offense averaged 6.30 runs a game with 158 home runs.

In 1961, Whitey Ford (25-4, 117 ERA+), Ralph Terry (16-3, 119 ERA+), Bill Stafford (14-9, 140 ERA+) and Roland Sheldon (11-5, 104 ERA+) were the starters. Luis Arroyo was the top relief pitcher (15-5, 29 saves, 171 ERA+).

The 1961 offense averaged 5.07 runs a game a set a record with 240 home runs.

In 1998, David Cone (20-7, 125 ERA+), David Wells (18-4, 127 ERA+), Andy Pettitte (16-11, 104 ERA+), Orlando Hernandez (12-4, 142 ERA+) and Hideki Irabu (13-9, 109 ERA+) were the starters. Mariano Rivera was the closer (3-0, 36 saves, 233 ERA+).

The 1998 offense averaged 5.96 runs a game with 207 home runs.

“Our” 2012 Yankees (I love how we are told that the team is “Your (fill in the team).”

Anyway, this upcoming season, the Yankees top four starters are C. C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda. Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova and either Freddie Garcia or Phil Hughes.

The Yankees can afford to give A. J. Burnett the chance to get back on track. If he is successful, the Yankees might get lucky and get rid of his contract. If Burnett continues to falter, Freddie Garcia and Phil Hughes are waiting in the wings.

One thing is certain. Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman will not ask Joe Girardi to put Burnett into the rotation because he has a big contract.

Based on past performance, potential and hope, Sabathia should continue to be an ace, Kuroda has experience and durability, and Pineda and Nova should continue to improve.

It is possible, although a long shot, that Hughes could become what the Yankees thought he would become when he first joined the team.

In 1961, Ford was coming off a poor 1960 season, Terry had given up Bill Mazeroski’s home run and no one knew what the team would get out of Stafford, Sheldon or Arroyo. The 2012 staff could do as well as the 1961 Yankees pitchers.

Last year’s Yankees offense, despite an injured Alex Rodriguez, an inconsistent Mark Teixeira, a Derek Jeter that had only one-half of a solid season and a slump-ridden Nick Swisher, still averaged 5.35 runs a game and hit a league-leading 222 home runs.

It is going to be a fascinating season.

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