Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Vultures

A lot has gone right for the Yankees this year. Okay, that was the understatement of the year. After obtaining Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett in the off-season, they were the odds-on favorite to win the A. L. East (this writer predicted Boston). But a 91-50 explosion wasn't expected. That is especially so since the starting pitching has been kind of a train-wreck with the exception of Sabathia and Pettitte. Thank goodness the Yankees have the Vultures.

For as long as the Fan has been a fan, he has heard the term, "Vulture," for any relief pitcher who steals a win from a starter. For example, Hoyt Wilhelm, the Hall of Fame knuckleballer, was 15-3 in 71 relief appearances in 1952. That's a vulture. Stealing a win is probably not giving the relief pitcher justice. Sure, some relievers blow saves and then get the win. Now that's a true vulture. But a vulture can also come into a game in long relief when a starter falters or gets hurt or something and then get the win when his team rallies back. To do that, the vulture has to keep the other team at bay so his team can score that comeback victory. The venerable Jamie Moyer has two vulture wins this season by coming in after early rain delays and pitching four or five innings.

But the Yankees lead the league in vulture wins. And it isn't even close. Yankee starters have accounted for 53 of the Yankees' 91 wins. That's only 58%. The relievers have all the rest. The most amazing vultures of the Yankees are the trio of Brian Bruney, Alfredo Aceves and Jonathan Albaladejo. Between those three guys, they have a record of 19-2. Aceves, who has been the clean up man for Joba Chamberlain since the "Rules" have been in place, is 10-1 all by himself.

The funny thing is that Albaladejo and Bruney have been rather un-extraordinary. Both have WHIPs over 1.5 and yet they are a combined 9-1. Aceves has been great and his 1.03 WHIP testifies to that. But still, those three pitchers have a .904 winning percentage. To put that in perspective, that's a few points higher than the 25-3 season that Ron Guidry had in his best year.

Those three guys have 21% of the Yankees' wins. Their 19 wins are one less than the Royals' 2, 3 and 4 starters have in 70 starts! Yup. They are the Vultures. Now you have another reason to hate the Yankees.

And congrats to Derek Jeter for tying Lou Gehrig for the top spot in hits in Yankee history.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

It still boggles my mind that no player has ever reached 3,000 hits in such a storied and old franchise.