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Yankees mailbag: Records to break, and a catching debate

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Here’s your answers for this week’s mailbag.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Good morning everybody. It seems like we have all the necessary details for when MLB will return, but now we have to await an agreement from the players and owners. Here are the answers for this week’s mailbag. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Antwon asks: What strange records can the Yankees set this season?

Assuming that we get around 80-100 games played this year, there could be some strange records set. The total stats, like most home runs or most RBI in a single season, won’t be touched, but the averages could be in play.

Let’s take a look at some of the stats that could be considered. Babe Ruth owns the team’s single-season batting average record with a .393 mark and the on-base percentage record with .545 set in 1923, as well as the slugging percentage record with .847 and the OPS record with 1.379 back in 1920. Meanwhile, Spud Chandler has the best ERA of any Yankee in a single year after putting up a 1.64 mark in 1943.

Most of Ruth’s records are difficult to imagine a Yankee, or anyone for that matter, beating in a normal season. The batting average mark could be one area to challenge this year, however. After all, there’s typically a couple players hovering around a .400 batting average as late as June in a normal timeline, and the Yankees have some candidates like DJ LeMahieu who could play up to that level.

A 1.64 ERA is exceptionally good, and over the course of 30+ starts would be hard to maintain. However, the Yankees not only have a smaller sample size to work with, they just signed one of the best pitchers in baseball in the offseason. Cole set a career-low last year by putting up a 2.50 ERA with Houston, which is still a ways to go to get to 1.64, but not within the realm of impossibility. Other than that, there isn’t much else that the Yankees could feasibly break, other than single-game records that could happen regardless.

CatskillKid asks: Who was a better catcher — Elston Howard or Thurman Munson?

Howard and Munson are two of the greatest catchers the Yankees have had in the franchise’s lengthy history. Both players won a single AL MVP award over the course of their career, and while Munson played three fewer years he collected 46 bWAR compared to Howard’s 27.1.

Honestly, that’s where the argument ends as far as I can see. Munson was more valuable in a shorter timeframe, and it wasn’t like he chose to stop playing. Munson’s life was tragically taken from him, and should he have gotten to play a little longer he could have established himself as one of the all-timers at the position. That’s no disrespect to Howard’s career, either. It’s just a testament to how successful Munson was.