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The worst Hall of Fame Yankees career

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Yes, the player in question made it as a manager. However, a -2 OPS+ is very bad.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

“Those who can’t do, teach” is a fairly famous saying. Bill McKechnie appears to have taken it to heart. After his playing career, McKechnie went on to be a Hall of Fame manager who won World Series championships with two different teams. Before that, his brief playing stint in New York was record-breakingly bad.

McKechnie came up with the Pirates as a 20-year-old in 1907 for a three-game stint. After going back to the minors for a couple years, he returned to Pittsburgh, and played there from 1910-1912. While in Pittsburgh, Honus Wagner took the infielder under his wing. McKechnie said that Wagner taught him a lot about baseball, but the hitting expertise didn’t quite transfer over. He put up just a .563 OPS in those three seasons.

In August of 1912, the Pirates traded McKechnie to St. Paul of the American Association. In turn, the Boston Braves picked him up a month later. He wouldn’t get any playing time in 1912, but made the team for Opening Day the following season. After just one 0-4 game, the Braves put him on waivers. The Yankees acquired him five days later. Three days after that, he played his first game for the team.

McKechnie spent most of the following two months receiving fairly regular playing time, alternating between second base, third base, and shortstop. After a 0-2 game on June 25th, his next appearance wouldn’t come until July 21st. Following four games without a hit, he then didn’t appear again until August 20th, which would be his final game of the season. Injuries might have played a part in that, but it was probably because he just wasn’t good enough.

In total, McKechnie played 45 games for the Yankees in 1913, totaling 125 plate appearances. He recorded 15 hits and eight walks. None of those hits were more than a single. His triple slash line for his time in New York was .134/.198/.134. That equates to a -2 OPS+. Of players to have gotten at least 100 plate appearances as a Yankees, that is the 20th-worst mark. However, literally everyone ahead of him was a pitcher. You could make an argument that McKechnie was the worst hitter in Yankees’ history.

His playing career continued through 1920, including a return stint to Pittsburgh. His penultimate season in 1918 was arguably his best, excluding his years in the “third major league”, the Federal League.

In 1922, the Pirates hired McKechnie as a coach. Part-way through that season, he took over as manager following George Gibson’s resignation. That would be the beginning of a successful managing career.

Three years later, McKechnie led the Pirates to the 1925 World Series. However, he found himself fired just a year later. Fred Clarke, who managed the Pirates back in the day, was a team executive and McKechnie’s de facto bench coach. The players thought Clarke was attempting to undermine the manager and get himself reinstalled. After several players tried to get Clarke voted out of the dugout, those players would soon be traded and McKechnie would get fired for initially siding with them and not Clarke. The defending champions would finish third that season and wouldn’t win another title until 1960.

After managing both the Cardinals and Braves, he ended up taking over the Reds in 1938. Two years later, he led them to a championship after they overcame a deficit in the seventh inning of Game Seven. To this day, he is one of only four managers to win a World Series with two different teams. He added a third ring to his collection as a member of Lou Boudreau’s staff with the Indians in 1948. The veterans committee voted him into the Hall of Fame in 1962.

Bill McKechnie was quite obviously a well-respected figure in baseball. He also put up one of the worst Yankee playing careers you can find.

Sources

https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/8bb2437d

All stats and data are courtesy of Baseball Reference