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Murderer’s Row: Baseball Terminology

Murderer’s Row refers in particular to the 1927 New York Yankees and the heart of their lineup. It included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri. Although the term can refer to any team’s lineup, it was first used to describe the ’27 Yankees – they are the default reference when talking about Murderer’s Row.

Murderer's Row Terminology Baseball JournalThe 1927 Yankees went 110-44 in the regular season and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. Despite the success of the offense, only three players had double digit home run numbers that season. Lazzeri had 18 home runs, Gehrig smacked 47, and the Sultan of Swat had his best season ever with 60 bombs.

Four of the members (Combs, Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri) of Murderer’s Row made it into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Two pitchers on the 1927 team are also enshrined (Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock).

Few teams in today’s game could consider themselves as a present day Murderer’s Row. Many ball clubs have multiple good hitters, but to be as consistently good as the ’27 Yankees is a tall task indeed. New York was shut out only one time that season; Lefty Grove of the Philadelphia Athletics claimed a 1-0 victory in a game lasting only 1 hour and 30 minutes.

There have been numerous All-Star teams that have announcers comparing them to Murderer’s Row. Of course, these teams are filled with 3 and 4 hole hitters up and down the lineup. Even the backups for All-Star teams could make a formidable 1-9 lineup. With the parity of today’s game, and free agency, a true Murderer’s Row may only be possible when the best of the best take the field at the Midsummer Classic.

The Toronto Blue Jays have a possible claim, as they boast a ton of power throughout their lineup. The addition last season of MVP Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki helped raise their power and home run statistics. Alongside Jose Bautista Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays have a team you do not want to be in a slugfest with.

No matter how many homeruns one team boasts throughout their lineup, it will be very hard to get any analyst or expert to try and use the Murderer’s Row name. That is one of the things about comparing the greats of the past to the greats of the present. If Derek Jeter can’t make it onto the Yankees’ Mount Rushmore, how can any team overtake the ’27 Yankees nickname?

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