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The weirdest Yankees all-time leaders

The home runs and hits leaders make sense. OPS...not as much.

Divisional Round - New York Yankees v Cleveland Indians - Game Five Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If you look up the Yankees’ career leader in any sort of counting stat, you’re bound to find that whoever sits atop the list makes sense. The Yankees’ home run leader is Babe Ruth; their hits leader is Derek Jeter; Andy Pettitte has the most strikeouts.

Rate stats, however, get a little weird, especially if you don’t set a minimum for playing time. Consider batting average for an example. There are six players who had a career 1.000 batting average with the Yankees. They are Heinie Odom, Mickey Wittek, Larry Gowell, Chris Latham, Branden Pinder, and Erik Kratz. Not shockingly, none of them got more than two at-bats.

If you then look at the highest OPS in Yankees’ history, the list is headed by two of those six. Gowell and Pinder top everyone in that category, as both went 1-for-1 in their careers, with that one hit being a double, meaning they’re the Yankees’ all-time leaders at 3.000. Here’s also a thing about them: they’re both pitchers.

Pinder you may remember, as he pitched for the Yankees from 2015-16. He was allowed to bat in the late innings of a 2015 game in Atlanta against the Braves as the Yankees were up double-digit runs. Not only did he double, but he drove home a run.

Meanwhile, Gowell’s lone season in the majors came back in 1972. He got the start in the final game of the season, which would be the final game the Yankees played before the institution of the designated hitter. He led off the third with a double, and when he was next due to come up, a pinch hitter took his place. Unfortunately, one of the Yankees’ relievers in the game was allowed to step to the plate, so sadly the final pitcher to hit before the DH did not record an extra-base hit.

On the pitching side of things, there are 34 people to have pitched for the Yankees and never allowed a run, therefore finishing with a 0.00 ERA. Among those are some position players like Nick Swisher and Mike Ford. There’s also Rocky Colavito, a position player who also finished as the winning pitcher in the one game he appeared in.

Hall of Famer Lee Smith is one of those 34, having pitched eight scoreless inning in New York in 1993. Another was Steve Blateric, who just so happens to be the relief pitcher who was allowed to hit in the aforementioned Gowell game. The only one of the 34 who threw more than 10 scoreless innings was Matt Smith. He tossed 12 in 2006 before being included in the Bobby Abreu trade.

Another way to measure pitchers is FIP, which takes into account the things the pitchers are almost solely responsible for, i.e. home runs, strikeouts, walks. It’s a number that is supposed to be comparable to a pitcher’s ERA. The way it’s calculated, however, can lead to a pitcher having a negative FIP, such as the Yankees’ very random all-time leader.

Walter Bernhardt played his one and only game on July 16, 1918. He faced two batters, struck one out, finishing off the top of the ninth in a 12-1 Yankees’ loss. He would never pitch again, and years later when FIP was created, his came out to be -0.77. Having a career strikeout rats of 50% will do that.

All stats courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index