February 22 – Happy Birthday Joe Lefebvre

lefebvre.jpgWhen he made his debut with New York in 1980, I was hoping I was looking at the next great Yankee outfielder. Why? Joe Lefebrve had been one of the top sluggers in the Yankee farm system the previous two seasons. He then hit home runs in each of his first two games in pinstripes and started his Yankee career with a six-game hitting streak. At the end of his first month in the big leagues, his average was .357. At the same time that Lefebvre was white hot, the Yankee’s starting center fielder that season, Ruppert Jones was ice cold, mired in a terrible offensive slump that would end up lasting the entire season. I figured Lefebvre would soon replace Jones in the Yankee starting lineup. Dick Howser, who was the Manager of that Yankee team, did end up starting Lefebvre almost the entire month of June, but he alternated the Concord, NH native in left field and right. By the end of that month, Mighty Joe’s batting average had plummeted by over 100 points and when his slump continued into July, he lost most of his playing time to another first year Yankee outfielder, a switch-hitter named Bobby Brown. Lefebvre ended up getting dealt to the Padres after his first Yankee season. He was a good enough big league hitter to stick around for six seasons. He ended up hitting just .227 during his one and only season in New York but his lifetime batting average in the Majors was a more respectable .258. He became a coach after his playing days and now works in the front office of the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants.

Also born on this date was this grandfather of a number 1 Yankee draft pick,  this nearsighted but lightening fast closer, this new Yankee infielder and this former 20-game-winning pitcher.

1980 NYY 74 178 150 26 34 1 1 8 21 0 0 30 .227 .345 .407 .751
6 Yrs 447 1253 1091 139 281 52 13 31 130 11 9 204 .258 .344 .414 .758
PHI (3 yrs) 167 503 436 56 122 29 8 11 56 5 5 88 .280 .367 .459 .825
SDP (3 yrs) 206 572 505 57 125 22 4 12 53 6 4 86 .248 .323 .378 .702
NYY (1 yr) 74 178 150 26 34 1 1 8 21 0 0 30 .227 .345 .407 .751
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/1/2014.

1 Comment

That’s really interesting. He had such a great career in the minors and was doing relatively well at the big league level. A real Yankee fan knows about players like this. Great work, Mike!

I added Pinstripe Birthdays to my list of favorite bloggers on
my Yankee Yapping page.


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