Bill “Moose” Skowron: The Yankees’ Mark Teixeira of the 1950s

During the 1950s, Bill “Moose” Skowron was the New York Yankees’ first baseman. The “Moose” joined the Yankees in 1954 and remained an integral part of four world championship Yankees’ teams until he was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers following the 1962 season.

When one compares Skowron’s Yankees’ years with Mark Teixeiral, one realizes how underrated Skowron has become.

During his nine seasons, the often-injured Skowron batted .294/.346/.496. As a Yankee, Teixeira has hit .266/.363/.514.

Skowron averaged 25 home runs and 101 RBIs over a 162-game season. Teixeira has averaged 39 home runs and 118 RBIs over a 162-game season.

“Death Valley” at the real Yankee Stadium made Skowron one of its many victims. The right-handed power hitter would have had many more home runs if the distances to left center field were reasonable. It was 402 to the bullpen and 457 feet to left center field.

I remember one game in which Skowron, in his first game back from the disabled list, hit four drives, all of which traveled more than 400 feet. All were caught.

Skowron had excellent power to the opposite field, which enabled him to take advantage of the short porch in right field, 344 feet away.

The outfield fences at Teixeira’s home ballpark are much closer to home plate than at Skowron’s Yankee Stadium. Teixeira is a switch-hitter, which allows him to take advantage of both the short distance to the right field fence as well as the wind that often helps fly balls hit to right.

Turning to modern measurements, in his nine Yankees’ seasons Skowron had a WAR of 24.2, with a high of 4.8 in 1956.

As a Yankee, Teixeira’s WAR is 12.0 with a high of 5.5 in 2009. Teixeira’s WAR will increase as the seasons pass.

When Skowron joined the Yankees in 1954, he usually batted fifth. Mickey Mantle batted third and Yogi Berra hit fourth in the order. It remained that way for most of the 1950s. Skowron “protected” the left-handed hitting Berra (as if Berra needed protection).

One of the highlights of Skowron’s career occurred in the seventh game of the 1958 World Series against Yankees’ nemesis Lew Burdette.

Elston Howard’s ground ball single up the middle scored Yogi Berra, who had hit a two-out, eighth inning double, to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead over the Milwaukee Braves.

Andy Carey hit a hard ground ball to third baseman Eddie Mathews’ left. All Mathews could do was knock down the ball. Howard was at second. Carey was at first.

Skowron put the game away with a long home run to deep left center field.

No attempt is being made to determine whether Skowron was a better player than Teixeira. Comparing them merely confirms the fact that Skowron was an excellent player.

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