New York Yankees
New York Yankees
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The Yankees began pursuit of their record-setting fifth straight world championship in 1953 with Whitey Ford back in their starting rotation, having returned from his two-year military commitment. The addition of Ford, the continued excellence of Yogi Berra, and the further maturation of Mickey Mantle enabled the Yankees to accomplish the first half of their ultimate goal by winning the American League pennant. New York finished the regular season with a record of 99-52, eight-and-a-half games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians.
The Yankees clearly established themselves as the American League’s most well-balanced team over the course of the season, topping the circuit with 801 runs scored, while also surrendering the fewest runs of any team in the league (547). Whitey Ford led New York’s deep pitching staff with a record of 18-6 and 11 complete games, while also compiling an ERA of 3.00. Ed Lopat finished 16-4 with a league-leading 2.42 ERA. Vic Raschi posted 13 victories. Spot-starters/long relievers Allie Reynolds and Johnny Sain won 13 and 14 games, respectively. Reynolds also finished among the league leaders with 13 saves.
The Yankees also had a considerable amount of depth in their lineup. Second baseman Billy Martin had his finest offensive season, hitting 15 home runs, driving in 75 runs, and scoring 72 others. Third baseman Gil McDougald batted .285, knocked in 83 runs, and finished second on the team with 82 runs scored. Leadoff hitter Hank Bauer batted .304 and scored 77 runs. Gene Woodling led the team with a .306 batting average and a .429 on-base percentage. Mickey Mantle hit 21 home runs, drove in 92 runs, batted .295, and finished third in the league with 105 runs scored. Yogi Berra batted .296 and led the team with 27 homers and 108 runs batted in, en route to earning a second-place finish to Cleveland’s Al Rosen in the A.L. MVP voting. Berra, Mantle, Bauer, Mize, Rizzuto, Reynolds, and Sain were all named to the American League All-Star Team. However, for just the third time since The Sporting News began naming its own All-Star Team in 1926, no Yankee player received a nomination to that squad.
The Yankees had to go through the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series for the second straight year if the latest version of the dynasty wished to separate itself from the 1936 to 1939 squad as the only team ever to win five consecutive world championships. The Dodgers again put up a considerable amount of resistance, coming from behind to tie the Series at two games apiece, after losing the first two contests played at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees, though, overpowered Brooklyn in Game Five by a score of 11-7, behind home runs by Woodling, Mantle, Martin, and McDougald. They then won the Series in Game Six on an RBI single by Billy Martin in the bottom of the ninth inning. Martin earned Series MVP honors by going 12-for-24 in the Fall Classic, for a .500 batting average, with two home runs, two triples, and eight runs batted in. The Series victory was the 16th in franchise history.By Bob_Cohen