After winning four straight American League pennants, the Yankees failed to repeat as league champions in 1940, finishing third in the junior circuit, two games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers. While the 1939 team had virtually no weaknesses, the 1940 squad was deficient in some areas. With Lefty Gomez lost for most of the season with an arm injury, the starting staff lacked depth. After having the finest years of their respective careers the previous year, both George Selkirk and Red Rolfe experienced subpar seasons. Frank Crosetti had a horrible year, batting just .194. Age and injuries began to catch up with 33-year-old Bill Dickey, who hit only nine home runs, drove in just 54 runs, and batted only .247. As a result, the Yankees finished the regular season with a record of only 88-66, one game behind the second-place Indians, and two games back of the pennant-winning Tigers.
Despite the loss of Gomez, New York’s pitching staff performed relatively well, finishing third in the league with a team ERA of 3.89. Although he failed to win 20 games for the first time since 1935, Red Ruffing remained the team’s best pitcher, posting 15 victories, a 3.38 ERA, and 20 complete games. Second-year left-hander Marius Russo finished 14-8, with a 3.28 ERA and 15 complete games. After being called up from the minor leagues in early August, 26-year-old rookie Ernest “Tiny” Bonham compiled a record of 9-3 and an exceptional 1.90 ERA over the season’s final two months.
In spite of the poor showings by many of the team’s regulars, the Yankee offense also remained one of the best in the American League, finishing third in the junior circuit with 817 runs scored. Charlie Keller had a solid sophomore campaign, hitting 21 home runs, driving in 93 runs, scoring 102 others, batting .286, and compiling a .411 on-base percentage. Second baseman Joe Gordon had another big year, hitting 30 homers, knocking in 103 runs, scoring 112 others, and batting .281. Joe DiMaggio won his second straight batting title, leading the league with a mark of .352. He also finished among the leaders with 31 home runs, 133 runs batted in, a .425 on-base percentage, and a .626 slugging percentage. DiMaggio’s outstanding performance earned him a third-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting and a spot on The Sporting News All-Star Team for the fourth straight time. He also earned his fifth consecutive selection to the American League All-Star Team, being joined on the squad by fellow Yankees Dickey, Gordon, Keller, Ruffing, Pearson, and Rolfe.
- Bill Dickey, Charlie Keller, Frankie Crosetti, George Selkirk, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Lefty Gomez, Marius Russo, Monte Pearson, New York Yankees, Red Rolfe, Red Ruffing, Tiny Bonham, Tommy Henrich