Did Brian Cashman make a wise decision when he sent 22-year old offensive wunderkind Jesus Montero to Seattle in exchange for 23-year old phenom Michael Pineda? As much as it pains me to answer that question with a cliché, in this case, it applies: only time will tell. However, what we do know is Pineda represents a very rare breed for the Yankees, which is appropriate because they had to sacrifice another to get him.
In the 111-year history of the Yankees’ franchise, 122 pitchers have taken the mound for the team before their age-24 season, but only 21 threw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Adding further perspective, since 1981, only two pitchers from this group, Andy Pettitte and Dave Righetti, have a taken a regular turn in the Yankees’ rotation for an entire season. So, if Pineda is able to accomplish that task, he’ll join a very small fraternity. Considering the relative success enjoyed by each of the most recent qualifiers, the Yankees would probably be very happy if Pineda’s 2012 season resembles the group.
10 Most Recent Seasons by a Yankees Pitcher Age-23 or Younger
Note: Only includes pitchers who qualified for the ERA title.
Entering his age-22 season, Jesus Montero would have also been a novelty for the Yankees. Since 1901, the team has only had 22 hitters age-22 or younger qualify for the batting title. However, these prodigies have been a little more common of late. During the dynasty years, Derek Jeter, Melky Cabrera (twice) and Robinson Cano each compiled at least 524 plate appearances before turning 23, so had the Yankees retained Montero, it’s likely he would have joined that succession.
10 Most Recent Seasons by a Yankees Batter, Age-22 or Younger
Note: Only includes hitters who qualified for the batting title.
No matter how you slice it, Pineda and Montero are rare talents. Because Yankees’ fans have long been awaiting the arrival of Montero, his departure has led to understandable disappointment. However, Pineda has the potential to be just as exciting in pinstripes, and, if he continues his progression, fans in the Bronx should warm up to him very quickly.