Sunday, June 14, 2015

MISSING 1970 ALL-STAR: MEL STOTTLEMYRE- RHP

Today I post the final player that really should have had an all-star card in the 1970, since he was a starter for the American League, the A.L. starting pitcher for the 1969 game, Yankee Mel Stottlemyre:


While two-time Cy Young winner Denny McLain got the nod by the Sporting News as their right-handed all-star, Stottlemyre in fact started the game, and it's somewhat a perfect example of how this guy is always overlooked and under-appreciated in my eyes considering all he did in basically ten years of Major League ball.
With a half-season in 1964 (his first year), and 1974 (his last), he put up nine full seasons in between, and all but one (1966) rock solid for some poor Yankee teams.
In nine full years on the mound, he posted three 20-win seasons (all while pitching during the Bronx "lean years"), five sub-3.00 ERA years, seven 15+ win seasons, nine 250+ innings seasons,  and six years of four or more shutouts, topping out with seven in both 1971 and 1972.
How solid is THAT!?
A five-time all-star, I can't even imagine what his win totals could have been had he stayed healthy and pitched into the late-1970's/early-80's, or even if he wasn't starring for those bad Yankee teams post-dynasty between 1965-on.
Consider his numbers in the small amount of time he was a Major League pitcher: a 164-139 record, with a nice 2.97 ERA, 40 shutouts and 1257 K's in only 356 starts!
Those are really some seriously great numbers.
Sadly because of a rotator-cuff injury in 1974, he had to retire at the young age of only 32, leaving us to wonder "what could have been".
Of course we know that he later went on to become one of the most respected pitching coaches in the Majors from the 1980-s with the Mets on through to the "new" Yankee dynasty in the late-90's/early-00's, before retiring for good after the 2008 season.
A great, solid career that get's overlooked for a few different reasons. I have to figure out some sort of "tribute" card for the guy, one way or another…

4 comments:

  1. Nice write up. Yes it was a shame that he pitched for some truly bad teams and that his career was cut short (always the what if - HOF maybe) . I also thought it was neat that two of his sons made it to the major leagues.

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  2. Thanks, Giovanni. It's a pleasure to see a member of the New York Yankees represented on one of the all-star cards in the '70 Topps set -- especially considering how he deserved it.

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  3. Here is another What If? scenario...for the Yankees, it is pretty hard to imagine them actually better off WITH Mel in the mid-1970's (considering there is no way they could have beaten the Reds in 1976 and they won the WS in 1977 & 1978). It would definitely have been nice for Mel to get a ring as a player, though.

    But it is interesting to think about if there would have been any personnel differences for the Yankees between 1974-1978.

    First, about Mel...he started 38 games in 1973 and was pretty effective. then he started 15 games in 1974 and got hurt in June (only pitched 2 more innings in an August relief appearance and retired.

    The Yanks went out and purchased Rudy May from the Angels to replace Mel for the rest of 1974. May pitched a full season for the Yanks in 1975 (31 starts). Then in June of 1976 Rudy was in that massive trade with Baltimore. It was May along with with Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor and Dave Pagan traded to the Orioles for Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Elrod Hendricks, Ken Holtzman and Grant Jackson. Again it is hard to argue with what happened in the short-term for the Yanks (4 WS/5 Playoff appearances in the next 6 years), but this trade HEAVILY favored the Orioles. It is a little simplistic to think that we could just say that if May did not exist (with the Yanks) then they just would have NOT gotten Holtzman because Holtzman was still a legit star pitcher, in actuality for the Yanks to not get him would have cost them LESS in the trade and perhaps could have kept Tippy Martinez (for arguments' sake). So at this point in the scenario, the Yanks would keep Stottlemyre and not have to give up Tippy. Also, you can easily make the case that Mel could have pitched at least as well as May/Hotzman over the 1974-1976 time period.

    The key to Rudy May seemingly being a replacement for Mel is that he lasted from mid 1974 thru early 1976 with the Yanks, therefore there is no reason to think any of the other important Yankee trnsactions wouldn't have happened (i.e. trading for Randolph, signing Hunter, trading for Bonds (and then trading Bonds for Rivers/Figueroa).

    This is where it gets a little interesting (to me at least)...Now since Hotzman is NOT with the Yankees in 1977/1978 (in this scenario) it does not matter because he was not great (again, Stottlemyre could easily have recreated Ken's performance and let's say he did so as to not affect the outcome of the 1977/1978 world series!). Then comes 1978 where Holtzman is traded to the Cubs for Ron Davis. So now, for the sake of this farce, we can say that the Yanks have Tippy Martinez instead of Ron Davis for the 1981 World Series and perhaps Tippy DOESN'T blow the save in Game 4 and MAYBE the Yanks go on to win that Wold Series. :)

    I think I skipped a few steps there while I was dreaming, but that is why the What If? scenarios are fun.

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  4. The above post brought to mind Rick Dempsey's missing 1973 Topps card. Is that creation on your to-do list?

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