Tuesday, May 4, 2010

All time top players by position: Yankees

So following along with my post about the top Mets players per postion, I promised to do one for the Yankees. As with the Mets, I did the top five except for outfield and starting pitcher. I tried to make sure the players spent at least a few years with the team in making the list or at least had a hell of an impact during the time they were in pinstrips.

This was harder for me because unlike with the Mets, where I’ve watched about 125 games a year for the last 28 years and know Mets history inside and out; I’m not quite as well versed with Yankee lore. I mean, I’m a baseball fan and I do know a lot about the Yankees and actually watch about 25-35 games a year of the team (and filp to see an inning here or there quite often) so it’s not like I’m totally shooting from the hip on this one, but you will give me a little lee-way if my list doesn’t match your own.

Actually, no… don’t give me lee-way. blast me. Post your own and tell me why I’m wrong if you don’t like mine.]

In the end I solicited help from my brother Lenny (a die hard Yankees fan) who made some suggestions that I incorpirated into my overall list.

Anyway, here goes:

First Base
1. Lou Gerhig
2. Don Mattingly
3. Tino Martinez
4. Moose Skowron
5. Chris Chambliss

I had Mark Texeria on the list originally, but in reality his one year with the Yankees wasn’t enough. Two years from now he’ll be on the list and most likely at number four or three. Gerhig and Mattingly are pretty much no brainers at the top and Martinez is one of those players that Championship teams just have to have… a selfless player who just plain knows how to win.

Second Base
1. Tony Lazzeri
2. Joe Gordon
3. Alfonzo Soriano
4. Willie Randolph
5. Bobby Richardson

I had Jimmy Williams in there as my number five originally but changed it to Richardson when Lenny brought it to my attention. He was much better with his glove that his bat, but Casey Stengal once called him “the greatest .260 hitter to ever play the game” due to his ability to get a large number of clutch hits. I left Robbie Cano off the list (despite his amazing start to the 2010 season) due to his inconsistancy over the years. He is on the cusp on the list however. I put Soriano on here because despite the fact his defense wasn’t too great, his offensive numbers at 2nd were outstanding.

1. Derek Jeter
2. Phil Rizzuto
3. Frank Crosetti
4. Tony Kubek
5. Roger Peckinpaugh

Wow, and I thought the Mets all time shortstop rankings were thin. Before actually sitting down to do this list I was sure Jeter would be #1, but it wasn’t even remotely close. I’m surprised to find some excellent defensive shortstops here but not a hell of a lot of offensive ones. I don’t think you need me to tell you why Jeter is #1.

Third Base
1. Alex Rodriguiz
2. Graig Nettles
3. Clete Boyer
4. Red Rolfe
5. Joe Dugan

Surprise Surprise, Lenny and I 100% agreed on the 3rd basemen. A-Rod has been with the Yanks more than long enough to be reconized as the best player to ever play that position. Nettles was damn fine with both the bat and the glove. There wasn’t anyone else that really jumped out at me, so Boyer, Rolfe and Dugan were pretty much locks with a solid mix of offense and defense.

1. Yogi Berra
2. Bill Dickey
3. Jorge Posada
4. Thurman Munson
5. Elson Howard

Lenny and I agreed on the catchers here, but not in their order. He had Munson at #3, Posada at 4 and Howard at 5. I had Posada at 3, Howard at 4 and Munson at 5. his arguement that Muson did more in just under ten years then most catchers do in more was enough to get me to move him over Howard, but Posada’s bat is too much for Munson to overcome in my opinion. Posada isn’t the best with his glove and he’s not exactly overtly adapt at blocking the plate either, but you cannot ignore the excellent hitting stats he’s compilied over the years. Like with Jeter, I’m sure no one needs an explanation of why Yogi is #1. He is one of the greatest overall baseball players period, much less one of the greatest catchers. Catcher is a position I know quite welll for the Yankees and this was by far the easiest of the positions to rank. Berra was a no-brainer for me. He hit well, he played defense well, he had the greatest quotes ever. Dickey was a hell of a player also and was another great with the glove and bat.

1. Babe Ruth
2. Mickey Mantle
3. Joe Dimaggio
4. Dave Winfield
5. Bob Meusel
6. Roger Maris
7. Reggie Jackson
8. Earle Combs
9. Bernie Williams
10. Paul O’Neill

The top three here is an outfield that transends any teams top three. Could you imagine having these three guys toegther in their prime? Jeez. After the top three, things get very hard. I had names like Bobby Mercer and Willie Keeler on my original list. Lenny had Roger Maris as high as #4 and Winfield down at #6. We went back and forth for a while and I settled on this list. O’Niell made the cut mainly because the guy was just a freaking warrior. One particular play stays in my head with him. In the 1997 playoffs against the Indians, O’Neill streatched a single into a double with 2 outs in the 9th inning of the game the Yanks were elminated in. Despite the fact the Yanks were pretty much dead already, he was playing 150%.

Starting Pitcher
1. Whitey Ford
2. Lefty Gomez
3. Ron Guidry
4. Red Ruffing
5. Herb Pennock
6. Andy Pettitte
7. Mel Stottlemyer
8. Catfish Hunter
9. Waite Hoyt
10. Mike Mussina

This was another case where Lenny and I mostly agreed (I had Roger Clemens in my original list but Lenny correctly convinced me he didn’t belong) in names but not in order so I compromised on things. Without trying to get into the individual stats on these pitchers, looking at the list and realizing that Clemens, David Cone, Allie Reynolds, Jimmy Key and Devid Wells all didn;t make the list is quite impressive.

Relief Pitcher
1. Mariano Rivera
2. Rich Gossage
3. Sparky Lyle
4. Dave Righetti
5. John Wetteland

If you have to ask why Riveria is #1 then you just don’t know baseball and perhaps cooking or music is your thing. No one has ever thrown a single pitch in relief and been better. I think Rivera will be the guy that surpasses Tom Seaver’s highest-ever percentage of HOF votes (with 98.84%). The rest of the Yanks relief corps is a solid bunch. Wetteland wasn’t there too long, but he had a memorable run.

So there you go. Rip it apart if you wish. Tell me where I’m wrong (or right). In any case, one thing we can agree is that the Bronx Bombers have a hell of a list of players that is dipped rich in baseball history.

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