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The Yankees pitcher who was bad at pitching but good at hitting

Some players don’t make sense.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

George Uhle was, by trade, a pitcher. For many years in the major leagues, he was at least decent at it. He was part of a World Series winning team in 1920. He has a career ERA of 3.99. He even finished eighth in MVP voting in 1923.

Playing in the era he did, Uhle’s secondary task was hitting. For a pitcher, he was actually pretty decent at it. He finished his career with a .289 batting average in over 1500 at bats. When Uhle came to the Yankees in 1933, he was still good at one aspect of his game. The problem was, it wasn’t the primary one.

After playing the first 14 seasons of his career with the Indians and Tigers, the Giants acquired Uhle in April of 1933. He had made just one appearance with Detroit that season and allowed two runs in 0.2 innings. Uhle pitched 13.2 innings for the Giants, putting up a 7.90 ERA. He allowed 16 hits in those innings and was pretty quickly moved on. The Giants released Uhle on July 8th, 1933.

On July 24th, the Yankees signed Uhle. He made his debut a little more than a week later on August 2nd. He allowed three runs in 2.1 innings out of the bullpen. Four days later, he threw 3.2 scoreless innings, while also picking up a single and getting the win.

His next few outings on the mound were a roller coaster. He would throw a scoreless inning one game, then allow two runs in less than an inning the next. He would get a start and allow just three runs in a complete game victory. Then he would allow six earned runs in 1.1 innings.

With the Yankees in 1933, Uhle had a 5.16 ERA in 61 innings. He also had 25 at bats and picked up eight hits. In a small sample, Uhle was bad at the thing he was supposed to be good at, and good at the thing that didn’t matter as much.

The Yankees brought back Uhle for 1934. He was used mostly out of the bullpen that season, and it started off pretty well. Uhle allowed just one run in the first 5.2 innings he pitched that season. Through May 17th, he had made seven appearances and had allowed just three runs, good for a 3.00 ERA.

On May 21st, however, Uhle was given the start against the Indians. He lasted just 1.1 innings and gave up five runs.Four days later, Uhle got another start. This time he gave up six runs in 2.2 innings. After one final poor appearance on May 31st, Uhle was released. He finished the 1934 season with a 9.92 ERA.

For his Yankees career, Uhle had a 6.17 ERA in over 70 innings. Meanwhile, he hit .440/.517/.560. He OPSed over 1.000 while having a 1.55 WHIP. Uhle didn’t play in the majors in 1935, but did end up back in Cleveland in 1936. He put up an 8.53 ERA, while hitting .381/.435/.571, because why not.