Gerrit Cole Will Be Another Yankees Samson

Ryan Glasspiegel
Gerrit Cole, before and after
Gerrit Cole, before and after /

Sports don't always make sense, and I'm aware that what I'm about to say could honestly not be more of an unscientific hot take: Gerrit Cole is going to be the latest in a line of high priced Yankees acquisitions who does not perform after grooming the hair on and around his head.

The Yankees have a longstanding policy, dating back to George Steinbrenner, that their players need to be clean-cut -- picture the Simpsons parodying it with Mr. Burns incessantly telling Don Mattingly to trim those sideburns -- and it turns high-priced free agents from other organizations into Samson. They're not as powerful without their hair.

We saw it a little bit with Jason Giambi, and we saw it a lot bit with Randy Johnson. We saw it in less high-profile situations with Carl Pavano, AJ Burnett, and Kevin Youkilis.

Jason Giambi came to the Yankees in 2002 having won the MVP in Oakland in 2000 and coming in second place in 2001. While he certainly wasn't bad statistically in his first season as a Yankee, his OPS was over 100 points lower than the previous season (1.034 vs. 1.137). For what it's worth, I remembered him struggling more than the numbers reveal in looking back.

In his first season with the Yankees in 2005, Randy Johnson's ERA jumped over 50 percent (from 2.60 to 3.79). It then climbed to 5.00 in 2006. Carl Pavano pitched just 145.2 innings in three injury-plagued and ineffective seasons in New York. A.J. Burnett had an under .500 win-loss record in three seasons. You probably forgot Kevin Youkilis even played for the Yankees. In fairness, it was at the tail end of his career, but he batted .219 with two home runs in 105 at-bats.

Cole is coming from the Astros, who have a Patriots-level of black magic that straddles the line of the rules. In two seasons with the Astros he averaged 301 strikeouts after topping out at 202 Ks in his best of five seasons with the Pirates. Compounding this, New York has the added pressure of fan and media scrutiny.

If I'm wrong I'll fully admit it, but as of this moment I expect him to be the next Yankees Samson.