Mailbag: Biggest 1-2 Punches In Baseball History

The Morning After: A.J. Burnett
Update: Yankees sign Clay Rapada
(Photo Credits: Sabathia via AP; Pineda via NY Post)

Daniel asks: Assuming Michael Pineda becomes the number two starter, CC Sabathia and Pineda (aside from being one of the more lethal 1-2 punches in the AL) must be the largest 1-2 in both height and weight we’ve ever seen in baseball no?

I’m a bit of a sucker for completely useless trivia like this, and thankfully we have the B-Ref Play Index to help us find the answer. Both Sabathia and Pineda are 6-foot-7, and CC is listed at 290 lbs. on the official site while Pineda admitted to being 280 lbs. yesterday. The former racked up 6.9 bWAR last season while the latter was at 2.8. So let’s do a search for teams with pitchers meeting those minimum requirements: 6-foot-7, 280 lbs., and 2.8 bWAR.

The results? Nine total teams have had exactly one pitcher satisfy the criteria, and it’s all the same guy: CC Sabathia, with the Indians (2002-2003, 2005-2007), the Brewers (2008), and Yankees (2009-2011). That’s it. Sabathia is such an extreme outlier in terms of size of performance in baseball history, it’s ridiculous. Now let’s relax the criteria a bit to see if we can actually get some results. Let’s use a minimum height of 6-foot-5, a minimum weight of 240 lbs. and a minimum bWAR of 2.5.

This time around we get 47 different teams with exactly one player meeting the criteria, though it’s only 14 different pitchers: Sabathia (ten times), Carlos Zambrano (eight times), John Lackey (five times), Gavin Floyd (four times), Josh Johnson (four times), Aaron Harang (three times), Chris Young (three times), Carl Pavano (three times), J.J. Putz (twice), Pineda (once), Justin Masterson (once), Mike Pelfrey (once), Guillermo Mota (once), and Jeff D’Amico (once). We still haven’t found a team with two productive pitchers that size though, so let’s drop the weight requirement all together and stick with the 6-foot-5 and 2.5 bWAR minimums.

Okay, now we’re talking. Fifty-four different teams have had at least two players meet the criteria while five had had three: 2003 Cubs (Zambrano, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood), 1997 Cardinals (Matt Morris, Alan & Andy Benes), 1991 Mariners (Randy Johnson, Erik Hanson, Bill Krueger), and both the 1985 and 1987 Cubs (Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith, Rick Sutcliffe). Dan Haren and Jered Weaver have one season meeting the criteria but figure to put a few more together. Same goes for Doug Fister and Justin Verlander. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have two such seasons together and should be able to add a third this year. Andy Pettitte and Sabathia are the list for their 2010 efforts.

Needless to say, Sabathia and Pineda have a chance to do something never before done in baseball history just by being themselves — physical huge and really effective on the mound. Add in Ivan Nova (6-foot-4), Freddy Garcia (6-foot-4), and Phil Hughes (6-foot-5), and the Yankees have a chance for one of the tallest rotations in baseball history. Poor Hiroki Kuroda (6-foot-1) is going to be stuck looking up at everyone.

The Morning After: A.J. Burnett
Update: Yankees sign Clay Rapada
  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Hiroki will be starting at the point.

    • sleepy-brandon

      wow… seriously?

  • Chip

    Watch, Hiroki will go down with an injury and Betences will take his place in the rotation. BIGGEST ROTATION EVA!!!

  • Ivan

    Its funny you say poor Hiroki because 6″1 is really exactly short lol…

  • bonestock94

    I love that this can be researched in a reasonable amount of time on your laptop. Pretty incredible.

  • AndrewYF

    Manny Banuelos (5’11”, 155lbs) is going to ruin everything.

    • Tcmiller30

      He’s going to look so small!

      • Havok9120

        Its all part of his Trickeration(tm).

  • Monterowasdinero

    I was reminded of the coin toss before the Super Bowl when the Giants looked so much taller than the Patriots. We know CC can hit. How about Pineda?

    • Kevin G.

      Well, they are called the Giants.

  • Kevin G.

    Imagine if Brackman had panned out?

    • Plank

      I still think Brackman’s issues are specifically because of his height. He grew an inch over the last offseason and that threw his mechanics way out of whack. If he had stayed at 6’10”, I think he would have been fine last season. There are different types of tall. CC Sabathia is Shaq tall in that he is proportioned normally but just big, then there is Manute Bol tall (like Brackman) in that he’s awkward and clearly has a growth disorder.

      Pineda seems more Shaq-like than Manute Bol-like or Shawn Bradley-like to me. Randy Johnson seemed more like Manute Bol than Shaquille O’Neal though, so maybe I’m wrong. He took a long time to put it together, though. That’s also the reason I still think Brackman has a decent chance of being a good pitcher (if he can stop growing long enough to learn to coordinate his body.)

  • infernoscurse

    Manute bol would outpitch them

  • themgmt

    Let us not forget Jobber weighs 432 lbs. The 3 of them on the same side of a bus could be trouble.

    • RetroRob

      He’ll be down to 400 by the time he has to pitch, though, don’t you worry!

  • Peter R

    CC’s pants are still the biggest pinstriped pants ever made though right?

    • Tyrone Sharpton

      Fatty Colon/Cecil Fielder might have given him a run 4 his money

      • gageagainstthemachine

        I would say it’d have to be Cecil Fielder. You could’ve used his pinstripe pants as a reserve parachute!

  • TonyZ

    Let’s not forget the potential call-up of Betances (6’10ish). What I wouldn’t give for a bench-clearing brawl and to see these three Monsters come stomping toward the mound!

    • G

      Dellin’s 6’8″. Still monstrous.

    • Bo Knows

      imagine a brawl against the sox…poor pedroia would be crushed like an ant

  • Patrick

    Is their nickname going to be Ground and Mound?

    • Havok9120

      Uh? No. No it isn’t.

  • Tyrone Sharpton

    imagine CC with his wife…she married him for the money no doubt

    • fin

      Pretty sure CC and his wife were HS sweethearts and CC seems to be about as good of a guy as you can find in pro sports.

      • Tyrone Sharpton

        liar! LIAR!

        • fin


        • infernoscurse

          CC also used to be skinny in HS

  • Pete C.

    Forget all this, If CC doesn’t drop 50 lbs. and keep it off, it won’t matter who the number 2 is.