1927 New York Yankees
110 – 44 (0.714)
Manager: Miller Huggins
Won AL Pennant by 19 games over the Philadelphia A’s.
World Series: Swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games.
Many teams have dominated their respective leagues over the course of baseball history, but few have been able to totally demoralize their competition like the 1927 Yankees. Their lineup, appropriately dubbed “Murderer’s Row,” featured five .300 hitters. Among their ranks were the league leaders in virtually every offensive category; Babe Ruth‘s record 60 homers and 158 runs, AL MVP Lou Gehrig‘s 175 RBIs, and Earle Combs’ 231 base hits all topped the Junior Circuit. As a team, the Bronx Bombers totaled over 100 more home runs than any other team and posted league highs with a .307 batting average and an amazing .489 slugging percentage.
As the Washington Senators discovered in early July, the Yankees would waste no time in swiftly disposing any team that dared to challenge their supremacy. The Senators had won ten in a row heading into an Independence Day doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. In the process, they had leapfrogged the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox to take second place and had pulled within ten games of the first-place Yankees.
No matter. In front of a record crowd, the Yankees destroyed the Senators 12-1 in the opener and utterly humiliated them in the second game by a 21-1 margin. After the game, Washington first baseman Joe Judge summed it up. “Those fellows not only beat you but they tear your heart out. I wish the season was over.”
Yankees owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert loved watching one-sided contests, and his 1927 club willingly obliged. Powered by the legendary 3-4 punch of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the 1927 Yankees won the second of three consecutive American League pennants with 110 wins, tying the 1909 Pirates for the fourth-highest total in major-league history. The Bronx Bombers led the league in every individual offensive category except for batting average. Their pitching staff dominated the league to an almost equal extent, with an ERA over seven-tenths of a run lower than the nearest rival.
Ruth and Gehrig were neck-and-neck in the home run department until Ruth went on a late season tear, hitting 17 of his 60 in the month of September. No American League club had as many as 57. Gehrig finished with 47 for the year, topping all but three other teams; teammate Tony Lazzeri was a distant third in the AL home run chase with 18.
For all their fireworks, the Yankees would not have enjoyed the same success were it not for their fine flock of pitching talent. Waite Hoyt tied Chicago’s Ted Lyons for the league lead with 22 wins, while balding reliever Wilcy Moore‘s sinker won him an incredible 19 games (13 in relief). Moore, who had been ready to leave baseball for good the year before, ended up leading the league with a 2.28 ERA. Four other Yankee pitchers had double-digit win totals; of those four, only George Pipgras had an ERA over 3.38. Herb Pennock contributed 19 wins. An aging but still talented Urban Shocker, along with Pipgras and Dutch Ruether (another successful reclamation project), filled out the rotation.
Facing a powerful Pittsburgh club in the World Series, the Yankees’ pitching corps shut down the Pirates to close out the season with a convincing sweep. The Bucs, who led the NL with a .305 team batting average, actually out-hit the fearsome Yankee lineup in the first game, but two Pirate errors in the early innings gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead. After the Pirates clawed back to make the score 5-4 in the eighth, Moore came in to end the threat by retiring five of the last six Pittsburgh batters. The Pirates made another pair of errors in the second game as George Pipgras held on for a 6-1 win. In Game Three, Herb Pennock took a perfect game into the eighth inning as the Yankees won easily, 8-1. Moore went the distance in the fourth game and gave up just one earned run. Although the Pirates tied the game 3-3 with two scores in the seventh, Moore’s teammates came back with two outs in the ninth to score the series-winning run on a Johnny Miljus wild pitch.