We’ve heard it a bunch of times over the last few days: the last time the New York Yankees were down 3-1 in a series was in the 1958 World Series, which they came back in and won. I’m not saying the 2010 Yankees are guaranteed to do that in the ALCS, but I’m still pretty confident in their chances. Yes, that’s pollyanna-ish optimism, but I don’t care.
Anyway, I thought it’d be fun to delve into the 1958 Yankees and see what they were all about.
The team featured a lot of recognizable names, led on the offensive side by Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Bob Turley and Whitey Ford on the pitching side. The team also fielded an aging Enos Slaughter, who managed to put up a 133 OPS+ as a 42 year old in 160 PA.
Predictably, Mickey Mantle led the offense. He had the best average (.304), OBP (.443), SLG (.592), OPS (1.035), OPS+ (188), most total bases (307), stolen bases (18), home runs (42), RBI (97). You name it and he probably paced the team in that category. Newsflash: Mickey Mantle was awesome at baseball. In ’58, Mantle finished fifth in MVP voting, though he easily could’ve finished first. He beat the award winner (Boston’s Jackie Jenesn…I’ve never heard of him, either) in every possible category. And even though they didn’t have it back then, Mantle (9.8) more than doubled Jensen’s (4.6) bWAR total. What’s sick is that his 9.8 WAR in 1958 was only the fourth highest mark of his career. He went into double digits three times (1956, 12.9; 1957, 11.5; 1961, 11.9). I’m going to repeat this, because it bears repeating: Mickey Mantle was an incredible baseball player.
The Mick was the best hitter on the league’s best offense. The Yankees led the league with 759 runs scored and a .751 OPS.
Pitching was just as good for the Yankees in ’58 as hitting was. They finished with the second fewest runs allowed (577) and had the best ERA (3.22). They had the most shutouts, allowed the fewest hits, and struck out the second most batters. They were led by two great pitchers: Bob Turley and Whitey Ford.
The two combined to throw 464.2 innings while allowing 352 hits (6.8 per nine), walking 190 (3.7 per nine), striking out 313 (6.1 per nine), and allowing a 2.52 ERA. Turley went on to win the Major League Cy Young Award, as well as the WS MVP.
The Bombers (92-62) won the American League with ease, finishing ten games ahead of the second place White Sox (82-72). They scored the most runs per game (4.9) and allowed the fewest (3.7, tied with 6th place Baltimore). Their record was actually four games short of their Pythagorean Record, so this team apparently got a little unlucky in the regular season.
This was a complete team in every sense of the word. They pounded the ball and didn’t let the other team cross the plate very often. For fun, I went on to WhatIfSports.com and matched up the ’58 Yankees with the 2010 Yankees.
1. Gil McDonald, 2B
2. Norm Siebern, LF
3. Mickey Mantle, CF
4. Andy Carey, 3B
5. Elston Howard, C
6. Yogi Berra, DH
7. Bill Skowron, 1B
8. Tony Kubek, SS
9. Hank Bauer, RF
SP: Bob Turley
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Lance Berkman, DH
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Nick Swisher, RF
8. Curtis Granderson, CF
9. Brett Gardner, LF
SP: CC Sabathia
The game turned out to be a slugfest with the 2010 Yankees winning 11-7.
–Robinson Cano makes Bob Turley aware with a three run homer to right center field in the bottom of the first.
–Curtis Granderson has a two run inside the park homer in the sixth.
–A-Rod followed up with a grand slam to left center field later in the inning.
–Turley gave up all 11 runs for the ’58 team in 5.1 innings.
–Sabathia pitched to the score, allowing 5 runs on 9 hits in 6.2 innings.
–Mariano Rivera got a save after David Robertson allowed 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in just 2/3 of an inning. Mo struck Bill Skowron out on three pitches to end it.
Tomorrow (and hopefully Saturday), the Yankees will look to put their own ALCS spin on what the 1958 Yankees did in that year’s World Series. That team was certainly the class of the American League and the 2010 Yankees were for most of the season. Obviously, that’s an “on paper” statement, but the 2010 version certainly has the talent to do what their forebears did.
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