Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ten for Tuesday - 10 Greatest Yankees

Hey guys, Drew back here. It's safe to say that this week hasn't gotten off to the brightest start, but that's okay. My contest idea of having an All Time Re-Draft didn't seem to catch on to you all, so I decided to let it go and forget about it. Lately I've been putting a great deal of work into this site and improving my writing to help diminish some of my previous posts when I was younger and evolve as a writer, so with this failure I decided to just keep on going, and work harder towards giving you the best quality I can provide.

This week, I decided to take a week off from roasting the Hall of Fame, and instead thought it would be necessary for you all to know my stance on the ten greatest players from the team I have studied religiously and adored for now over a decade: The New York Yankees. Love 'em or hate 'em, they are perhaps the most famous professional sports franchise in the world, and have had some of the greatest players in history come through the organization. Although I was not there to watch a majority of the men I'm about to speak about, I've done my share of research, watched Yankeeographies and documentaries, and can say that I know more than the average fan does about them all. We'll begin with those who just missed my cut.

Top 10 New York Yankees of All Time

Honorable Mentions - Thurman Munson, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, Reggie Jackson

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Thurman Munson was the most tragic Yankee in history. A perennial All Star and fan favorite; Thurman never got to reach the Hall of Fame level he could have gotten to thanks in part to his early death at the age of 32 in a plane accident. Munson was a 7 time All Star, 3 time Gold Glove Winner, 2 time World Series Champion, and the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1976. He was the leader, the captain, and was far beyond simply "the straw that stirred the drink".

(Dis)Honorable Mention - Alex Rodriguez

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Rodriguez is officially the most hated Yankee of All Time, topping Bucky F*****g Dent, Roger Clemens, and ruthless owner George Steinbrenner. I personally do not root for him as a person but will root for him as long as he is in the lineup helping the team win. A-Rod is a 14 time All Star and has won 3 MVP's, 2 of which in New York in 2005 and 2007. He's attempted to sue the team, was suspended for all of last season for being involved in the Biogenesis scandal, and simply put; is a douchebag. He is far from the epitome of a Yankee, but I'll give him credit for how he has responded to all of the criticism he has faced this season. Finally, as the man is closing in on 40 years old and 3,000 career hits, he is growing up. Unfortunately, it is too late for him to fully recover for his wrongdoings, and he will never make this list, even if he wins 3 more MVP's in pinstripes before he hangs up his $300 million dollar cleats.

10 - Don Mattingly
1B, 1982-1995

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There may have been a few players listed in my Honorable Mentions who were better than Don Mattingly. But few could resemble a Yankee in the way that our former superstar first baseman could. Mattingly was at the top of the game for about a six year stretch, until a nagging back injury ended his career prematurely. Unfortunately, this situation will likely keep "Donnie Baseball" from reaching the Hall of Fame (although his statistics are very close to HOF'er Kirby Puckett), unless his managerial career in Los Angeles boosts him up higher on the pedestal. Players, coaches, and fans absolutely loved #23 in New York, and he deserves a place on this list solely because of his leadership and work ethic.

9 - Bill Dickey
C, 1928-1943, 1946

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Can it be set in stone that Bill Dickey is the most underrated Yankee in the Hall of Fame? As much as we all love Yogi Berra, it was Dickey that taught him the tools to become a legendary catcher. He made 11 All Star teams and was a part of 14 World Series teams. I don't know much about him to be frank, but I don't think many people do. That, is a problem.

Dickey was mostly known for his presence behind the plate, but he was just as good at the dish. He was always outshined by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio, but he can not be forgotten. Some of his offensive seasons rank among the best ever for a catcher, and being able to pair that with his defensive ability makes him one of the greatest catchers in history.

In no way do I feel that Dickey is better than Berra for teaching him the way, but he does deserve more respect than he gets for it. I feel like sharing a retired number with Yogi does take away from his legacy, because most Yankee fans associate the number with the more modern Berra.

8 - Whitey Ford
SP, 1950, 1953-1967

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"The Chairman of the Board". As you would assume, the highest ranked starting pitcher in my opinion is the man who dominated with control and finesse throughout a period of time the Yankees owned more than any other period. He is not the highest rated pitcher here, but if I were to put any pitcher on the mound over the course of a season who have ever donned the pinstripes, it would be difficult to argue against this guy.

While I'm discussing Ford, if I were to build a rotation off of former Yankees starters, it would most likely be lefty heavy. Literally. Following Ford would be Red Ruffing and "Lefty" Gomez, two more obscure pitchers from the earlier generations. The final two I would choose are Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte, which would make a rotation consisting of four left handed pitchers. Maybe I'd throw Pat Venditte in there just for kicks.

The all time franchise leader in wins would be higher ranked if it weren't for some of the best position players in baseball history that deserve it even more-so. Be on the lookout for Ford on a future list honoring some of the more underrated players in the Hall of Fame, as well as perhaps Dickey as well (hint, hint).

7 - Mariano Rivera
CP, 1995-2013

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Call it controversial, I don't care. Mariano Rivera is the most dominant relief pitcher ever, and there's really no argument otherwise. He had his moments that proved that he was human after all, but for the most part there was no other reliever who was on top of his game for as long, and as well, as Mo was. I know I've been frequently debating amongst myself how I feel about where relievers stand in comparison to not only starting pitchers, but position players as well. I've called Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley overrated, and Bruce Sutter and Hoyt Wilhelm downright undeserving of being included in Cooperstown. Rivera may be a little overhyped because he was a Yankee, under the bright lights in the media capital in the world. Most Yankees are; let's be honest. But there is nobody I've ever watched in my lifetime as a fan who could end a game before even entering it. Some may say he belongs even higher on this list, but my bias against relievers is probably the reasoning for this placement.

6 - Derek Jeter
SS, 1995-2014

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We now come to my favorite player, the most recent Captain, Derek Jeter. Jeter was the face of baseball during a period in which players that would have been were cheating. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Roger Clemens were better players. But as far as anyone can tell, Jeter did it the right way. He has forever been my role model, and despite perhaps being a little overrated towards the end of his career; it was for the right reasons. I remember meeting one of my Little League teams while in middle school, and my coach asked everyone who their favorite player was. Almost all of them said Derek Jeter. Not Bonds, not Clemens, not Sosa, not A-Rod. Jeter. Major League Baseball has done a fantastic job marketing a man who did it right for 20 years.

And to any of you who think Jeter doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame at all, and I've seen you out there; I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. If it weren't for Derek Jeter keeping my fandom for the game alive during one of the darkest periods of baseball history, I may not be writing this post right now. Maybe I'd be attempting to be a musician. Maybe I'd be studying engineering. Luckily, Jeter kept my dream for a life in the sports industry alive.

5 - Yogi Berra
C, 1943-1963

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Despite my love for my Captain, I did not have it in me to place him ahead of the man who has been all over the news in recent weeks. If you haven't heard, Yogi Berra's family organized a petition to President Obama to give Berra the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award has been given to former icons in all realms of pop culture, including Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, and several others. On the final night of the petition, fans everywhere were able to gain 100,000 total supporters, enough for it to be considered. There is no living player more deserving of this honor than a man who served in World War II and will forever live on for his baseball skill and hilarious philosophy.

The three time MVP falls just outside of my Yankees "Mount Rushmore", which has been a recent hot subject of debate among different sports and teams. The four you are about to see are the four you most likely expected to see at the top, and most likely in the order you assumed them to be in. But that's not the point of the Yankees list. What most people are curious in are where the top eight players are ranked, particularly 5-8. With Jeter and Rivera being more recent, it's hard to not over-rank them. Also, the final two choices are always interesting to see.

4 - Mickey Mantle
CF, 1951-1968

3 - Joe DiMaggio
CF, 1936-1951

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One debate I did have to have was whether I considered Mantle better than DiMaggio or vise versa. I have always loved Mickey Mantle, despite his being plenty of years before my time. I even placed Joe DiMaggio on my overrated list last week, and of these final four he is easily my least favorite player. But, that doesn't mean Joe D wasn't really, really good. I placed him on the Overrated list because he was voted "The Greatest Living Player" while Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams were all alive. It was only for that reason why he was even considered for the list. Because let's face it, if DiMaggio had played the three years he missed in the thick of his prime rather than serve our country; he may have ended up with more comparable statistics to the aforementioned Mays, Aaron, and Williams. With that argument, you can also say that if Mickey Mantle didn't face the injuries he struggled with his statistics would rank among the very best. 

What places DiMaggio ahead of Mantle slightly on this list is that his dominance over his first seven years in the Majors was one of the most dominant stretches ever. Mantle retired with 201 more hits than DiMaggio in 1,281 more at bats. He scored 286 more runs. Considering how much more Mantle played than "Joltin' Joe", those comparisons are not that impressive. However, Mantle was a better power hitter and reached base at a higher rate than DiMaggio. It cannot be determined which defender was better, even with sabermetrics. It is difficult to coin anything from that era to be true, even with the most advanced statistics. No statistic can value a player's impact on a team, and both players did more than that throughout their spectacular careers. 

It isn't easy, and if I had to choose, I would be biased towards Mantle. But, in terms of being politically correct, DiMaggio may have been a slightly better player. Not many people alive today were able to see both men play, and an even fewer selection of those people know about today's metrics well enough to make a decision on who was better without letting their biases get in the way. Many felt slighted when Mantle came in and stole DiMaggio's spotlight. Many loved Mantle because he had a better reputation with the fans and media. It will always go both ways. That's baseball, for you. There will never be a right or wrong answer to these questions, and that's what is so amazing about this sport; what makes it stand out among other sports.

Who was better?

Joe DiMaggio
Mickey Mantle
Poll Maker

2 - Lou Gehrig
1B, 1923-1939

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1 - Babe Ruth
RF, 1920-1934

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A debate that is much easier to agree upon is Ruth vs. Gehrig. Lou Gehrig can be made a case for being the second best player ever. But only one player put baseball on the map, and that achievement alone gives Ruth an edge. There isn't much to be said about these two men that hasn't already been said. So, I'll leave it at that. Babe Ruth is easily the greatest Yankee, and player, ever. If it weren't for him, baseball could have just been a phase.

I want to apologize for getting this out so late today, it has been a very busy past few days, and I hope this doesn't feel rushed. If you would like to discuss the rankings in the comments below, as well as anyone I may have missed, feel free!

See Ya!


  1. It's interesting - you place Joltin Joe as the third best Yankee, but in another post you think he is over rated.

  2. Hard to argue with these selections.

  3. The only thing I would do is switch Jeter and Berra, but that's just me. Awesome post!


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