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New York Yankees All-Time Strikeout Leaders
The Yankees have such a rich, proud tradition, but much of their history focuses on offensive players. Here, we take a look at great Yanks’ pitchers, in particular the top 10 all-time in strikeouts for the team:
Whitey Ford (1956)—Whitey Ford is a Yankee through and through, playing his entire career in New York, from 1950 to 1967. Ford leads the franchise all-time with 1967 strikeouts, with an incredible 236-106 lifetime record (almost a .700 winning percentage).
Ford’s Cy Young season of 1961 was his best, when he went 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA and a career best 209 strikeouts.
Ron Guidry (1778)—Ron Guidry, known as “Louisiana Lightning,” was a big part of the championship teams of the late ‘70’s. He played his entire career with the Yankees, from 1975 to 1988, and ranks second all-time for the team with 1778 strikeouts. In 1978, Guidry had one of the best seasons for a pitcher ever, when he won the AL Cy Young Award. That year, Guidry went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA, and a career high 248 strikeouts, averaging only 6 hits per nine innings.
Andy Pettitte (1614)—If he hadn’t pitched three seasons in Houston, there’s a good chance Andy Pettitte would top this list. He still may get there, but there is no guarantee he’ll pitch long enough for that to happen. Pettitte began his career with the Yankees in 1995, and pitched in New York until 2003, and after three seasons with the Astros returned to the Yanks in 2007. Pettitte’s 1614 strikeouts while wearing pinstripes ranks third for the Yankees all-time, and his best season there so far was 2003, when Pettitte went 21-8 with a 4.02 earned run average and a career best 180 K’s and just 50 walks in 208 innings of work.
Red Ruffing (1526)—Red Ruffing is the first right-handed pitcher on this list, and he played for New York from 1930 to 1946. Ruffing ranks fourth in Yankees’ history with 1526 strikeouts, and his best season was 1932, when he went 18-7 with a 3.09 ERA and a career high of 190 strikeouts (led the league).
Lefty Gomez (1468)—Lefty Gomez played most of his career with the Yanks, from 1930 to 1942, and he ranks fifth in franchise history with 1468 strikeouts. Gomez’ best season was probably 1934 when he went 26-5, but his career high in strikeouts was 194, set in 1937 to go along with a 21-11 record and 2.33 earned run average.
Mike Mussina (1278)—Mike Mussina played many years in Baltimore before coming over to the Yankees in 2001, and he pitched in New York until retiring after the 2008 season. Mussina had a very solid and consistent career, and he ranks sixth in Yankees’ history with 1278 K’s. Mussina’s career high with the Yanks was 214 in 2001, and his best overall season in New York was 2008, his only career 20-win season (20-9) with a 3.37 ERA and 150 strikeouts.
Mel Stottlemyre (1257)—Mel Stottlemyre pitched for the Yankees from 1964 to 1974, around the same time Tom Seaver was stealing all the pitching headlines in New York. But Stottlemyre was a great pitcher too, winning 20 games three times and striking out 1257 batters, which ranks seventh in team history. His best season was 1965, when Stottlemyre went 20-9 with a 2.63 earned run average and career high 155 strikeouts.
Bob Shawkey (1163)—Bob Shawkey played most of his career with the Yankees, from 1915 to 1927. Shawkey ranks eighth all-time with 1163 strikeouts while wearing pinstripes, and while he had a career best 130 K’s in 1922 with 20 wins, his best overall season was 1916—when Shawkey went 24-14 with a 2.21 ERA and 122 K’s.
Al Downing (1028)—Al Downing played the bulk of his career with the Yankees, nine seasons in all from 1961 to 1969. Downing ranks ninth in team history with 1028 strikeouts, and his best season in New York was 1964, when he went 13-8 with a 3.47 ERA and career best 217 strikeouts (led the league). It’s also worth noting that Downing also walked a career high and league-leading 120 batters that same season.
Roger Clemens (1014)—Roger Clemens only pitched in New York six seasons, from 1999 to 2003, and again in 2007. But in that short time, he racked up 1014 strikeouts, which ranks tenth for the Yankees’ franchise all-time. Clemens won one of his seven Cy Young Awards in 2001, when he went 20-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 213 strikeouts (his highest total for the Yanks).