Long before Giancarlo arrived in the Bronx, Mike Stanton was the most memorable New York Yankee with the last name “Stanton”.
Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera. These are the relievers that come to mind when Yankees fans think back on the three consecutive championships between 1998 and 2000. There is one man, however, who’s 2.10 ERA in 55 2/3 innings of postseason play is the second lowest among relievers with at least 35 innings in October, behind only Rivera. His name is Mike Stanton.
Unlike Giancarlo, this Stanton decided to stick with Mike.
Over 19 years, Stanton strung together a 3.92 ERA over 1,114 innings of work. While his regular season was ordinary, his postseason was anything but.
Stanton appeared in six World Series: two with the Braves in 1991 and 1992 and four more with the Bombers between 1998 and 2001.
Between 1991 and 1993, Stanton appeared in 19 playoff games with Atlanta. During that stretch he tossed 21.1 innings, allowing just a single run in the classic 1991 World Series against the Twins, a series that he pitched in five of the seven games. He appeared in four more World Series games a year later against the Blue Jays earning a save in game five. He would leave Atlanta 0-2 in the Fall Classic.
Up next was a pair of pit stops in Boston and Texas where his teams would fall in the ALDS to the Indians and Yankees in 1994 and 1995 respectively. For most, two World Series and four playoff appearances would be an extremely impressive playoff resume. But for Stanton, it was just the beginning.
His playoff glory would come, naturally, with the Yankees as he appeared in four consecutive Fall Classics between 1998 and 2001. He recorded two of the four victories over the Mets in the 2000 Subway Series. In 2001 he appeared in all three games of the American League Division Series, two games of the American League Championship Series and five games of the dramatic post 9/11 World Series, considered one of the greatest ever played. Overall, he appeared in 31 playoff games in his seven years in pinstripes, winning three rings.
A peripatetic playoff performer, Stanton appeared in some of the most iconic postseason games in MLB history: Jack Morris refusing to leave the mound in the 10th inning of the 1991 World Series, Joe Carter’s walk-off, Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off blooper and the Jeter “Flip Play” just to name a few.
The greatest postseason pitcher that nobody knows about, Stanton will never be in the same conversation as Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter or Madison Bumgarner but maybe he should be.