I used the Yankees scheduled off-day on Monday to check out the season stats. A few players have been pleasant surprises, albeit in small sample sizes, especially Vernon Wells, Francisco Cervelli, and Travis Hafner. That got me thinking about players who have had incredible small sample sizes seasons with the Yankees. So, I decided to take a look at the best small sample sizes seasons by Yankee hitters in the divisional era that were fairly out of line with the rest of their careers. I set parameters of 50-150 plate appearances.
Jesus Montero, 2011: 18 G, 69 PA, .328/.406/.590, 163 OPS+
In 2011, Jesus Montero was everything he was hyped to be offensively for one glorious month.
Cody Ransom, 2008: 33 G, 51 PA, .302/.400/.651, 170 OPS+
The career .220/.307/.404 hitter played all four infield positions in August and September. He began the following season as the starting third baseman while Alex rodriguez recovered from his first hip surgery, but it didn't go quite as well.
Shelley Duncan, 2007: 34 G, 83 PA, .257/.329/.554, 127 OPS+
I was more worried about him hurting someone while celebrating than anything else. I think he almost gave poor Kim Jones a concussion once.
Chris Latham, 2003: 4 G, 2 PA, 1.000/1.000/1.000, 437 OPS+
Okay, so Chris Latham didn't come close to meeting the 50 PA threshhold I set, but I couldn't resist including him. That's as close to a perfect season-ending batting line as I've ever seen. He entered three games as a pinch runner, and one as a defensive replacement. He singled in both ABs, stole a base, and scored a run. These were the last of his 240 career PAs, spread out over five seasons.
Glenallen Hill, 2000: 40 G, 143 PA, .333/.378/.735, 175 OPS+
Did anyone else forget this happened? I did until I noticed it a few years ago. Now I can't forget it because I can't believe I forgot it. He only played 16 games the following season, and was done.
Darryl Strawberry, 1999: 24 G, 66 PAs, .327/.500/.612, 185 OPS+
The last season of his career, the last five of which came with the Yankees, four of which were productive. Oh, what could have been.
Homer Bush, 1998: 45 G, 78 PAs, .380/.421/.465, 134 OPS+
That's not the name you were thinking of from 1998, was it? Bush actually stuck with the Yankees all year, but hardly ever saw the field as a pinch runner and Chuck Knoblauch's backup.
Shane Spencer, 1998: 27 G, 73 PA, .373/.411/.910, 236 OPS+
The king of Yankee SSS greatness.
Randy Velarde, 1989: 33 G, 111 PA, .340/.389/.480, 146 OPS+
Velarde put up this line while playing shortstop and third base, and would also see considerble time at second base, left field, and right field with the Yankees. He batted .174 in 125 PAs the year prior, and .210 in 253 PAs the following year. Small sample size numbers are fickle.
Aurelio Rodriguez, 1981: 27 G, 55 PA, .346/.370/.500, 152 OPS+
Rodriguez played 17 seasons, mainly becuase of his glove, but collected over 1500 hits. He had one other above-average offensive season, and 1981 was slightly out of line with his .237/.275/.351 career line.
Dennis Werth, 1980: 39 G, 78 PA, .308/.416/.492, 151 OPS+
George Zeber, 1977: 25 G, 75 PA, .323/.405/.508, 149 OPS+
I must confess that I never heard of either of them. Werth played parts of four seasons, batting .122 in his non-1980 appearances. Zeber had six hitless ABs the next year, and never played organized baseball again.
Roy Hansen, 1970: 59, 113, .297/.420/.473, 152 OPS+
Hansen, a shortstop, was the American League's Rookie of the Year in 1960 with Baltimore. He had some fantastic defensive seasons (per bWAR), mostly with the Orioles and White Sox, and was a career .224/.320/.351 hitter. This was the thirteenth of his fifteen major league seasons.
Jim Lyttle, 1970: 87 G, 140 PA, .310/.355/.452, 127 OPS+
This was Lyttle's second season with the Yankees after being their first round pick in the 1966 draft. He bounced around for eight years with four teams.