Mike Stanton was a key cog in a great Yankee bullpen that helped the team win three straight World Championships, beginning in1998. A left-hander, this native of Houston, Texas didn’t begin pitching until he got to college but mastered the art quick enough to get selected in the 13th round of the 1987 MLB amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves. He made his big league debut with the Braves two years later and impressed the organization by saving 7 ball games, compiling a 1.50 ERA and striking out more than a hitter an inning during his 20-game first-ever trial.
Stanton spent six-plus seasons in Atlanta, including 1993, when he became the team’s closer and saved a career high 27 games. He lost the closer’s job to Greg McMichael the following year and was traded to the Red Sox at the mid-season trading deadline in 1995.
The Yankees signed him as a free agent following the 1996 season and for the next half-dozen years, he was Joe Torre’s first southpaw choice out of the bullpen. He had a good, moving fastball and when his slider and curveball were working, this guy was simply nasty, especially on left-handed hitters. I loved his toughness and no-nonsense demeanor on the mound. He was the type of pitcher who believed he could get any hitter out in any situation. Though you couldn’t prove it by his rather high ERA while in pinstripes, Stanton got lots of key outs during that unforgettable string of three straight Yankee championships.
His best season in the Bronx was probably his first. In 1997, he appeared in 64 games and went 6-1 with a sparkling 2.57 ERA. Though the Yankees didn’t make it to the Fall Classic that year, they did formulate one of the franchise’s all-time great relief corps by putting Mariano Rivera in the closer role and teaming Stanton with Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson, and Graeme Lloyd as his set-up men. For the next three years, a Yankee lead in the sixth inning was safer than the gold in Fort Knox.
Though he went 7-1 during the final season of his contract with the Yanks in 2002, he had turned 35 and when Brian Cashman didn’t go after him hard, Stanton ended up signing with the Mets. Two years later, he returned to the Yankees in a trade but the magic was gone. When he retired after the 2007 season he held the record for most “Holds” by a big league reliever.
|ATL (7 yrs)||18||21||.462||4.01||304||0||123||0||0||55||289.2||277||146||129||22||114||223||1.350|
|NYY (7 yrs)||31||14||.689||3.77||456||1||118||0||0||15||448.1||430||197||188||35||165||407||1.327|
|BOS (3 yrs)||5||3||.625||3.56||82||0||31||0||0||1||78.1||76||33||31||12||31||57||1.366|
|NYM (2 yrs)||4||13||.235||3.68||133||0||43||0||0||5||122.1||107||57||50||12||52||92||1.300|
|WSN (2 yrs)||5||6||.455||4.13||86||0||13||0||0||0||72.0||78||35||33||3||30||44||1.500|
|SFG (1 yr)||4||2||.667||3.09||26||0||15||0||0||8||23.1||23||8||8||1||6||18||1.243|
|TEX (1 yr)||0||1||.000||3.22||22||0||9||0||0||0||22.1||20||8||8||2||4||14||1.075|
|CIN (1 yr)||1||3||.250||5.93||69||0||11||0||0||0||57.2||75||39||38||6||18||40||1.613|