New York Yankees All-Time Team

Yankees All Time Team
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It isn’t hard to create a lineup filled with the greatest players to ever play for the New York Yankees. Perhaps the hardest part of it all would be constructing this lineup to fulfill everyone’s egos and desires. All in all, it would be arguably the deepest and most talented lineup in history. This is an interesting exercise as the positions that do not have the obvious legendary greats like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig. Positions like second base, designated hitter, or reliever were the most difficult, with Mariano Rivera being the obvious exception.┬áThis Yankees all-time team will consist of eight position players, a designated hitter, one starting pitcher, three relievers, and four honorable mentions. The players on this Yankees all-time team range from the 1920s all the way to the 2010s. Let’s get to it.

Yankees All-Time Team

Batters

Catcher- Yogi Berra (1946-1963)

.285/.348/.483, .830 OPS and 125 OPS+, 59.6 WAR, 2,150 H, 358 HR, 1,430 RBI

Hall of Fame (1972), 3x MVP, 10x World Series, 18x All-Star

The New York Yankees have a long history of great catchers. However, only one name belongs to this all-time team, and that is Yogi Berra. In his 18 years with the Yankees, he accomplished more than most Hall of Famers can even dream of. He won three MVP awards and 10 World Series titles with the team. Catchers have only won 18 MVP awards in major league history, and Berra accounts for one-sixth of them. Berra is sixth all-time in catcher WAR, with 59.6. His 1,430 RBI ranks first among catchers, and 358 homers rank fourth. Yogi Berra is one of the most decorated and recognizable athletes in sporting history.

First Base- Lou Gehrig (1923-1939)

.340/.447/.632, 1.080 OPS, 179 OPS+, 113.7 WAR, 2,721 H, 493 HR, 1,995 RBI

Hall of Fame (1939), 2x MVP, 6x World Series, 7x All-Star, Triple Crown

When asked who the best first baseman in history is, the clear answer is Lou Gehrig. He is one of the cornerstone legends in baseball history. It is easy to be in awe over Gehrig’s numbers, but they would be even crazier had he played more than just 14 full seasons. Gehrig posted an OPS above 1.000 for 11 consecutive seasons and reached an OPS+ higher than 200 a mind-boggling three times. His 1.995 RBI rank seventh in history, and his 179 OPS+ rankings fifth. Gehrig was also the first captain in Yankees history as he came to represent what a captain should be. Additionally, his famous speech on July 4th, 1939, is easily one of the most popular speeches in American history. Safe to say, this was one of the easiest selections on any team’s all-time roster.

Second Base- Robinson Cano (2005-2013)

.309/.355/.505, .860 OPS, 126 OPS+, 44.4 WAR, 1,649 H, 375 2B, 204 HR, 822 RBI

5x All-Star, 1x Wold Series, 5x Silver Slugger, 2x Gold Glove

This position is the exact opposite of first base. This decision came down to Robinson Cano and Hall of Famer Joe Gordon. While Gordon spent seven fantastic years handling second base for New York, his statistical record is not as strong as Cano’s. In his second season in the bigs, Cano put up an astonishing .342 batting average. He and Derek Jeter made one of the best middle infield duos in baseball for years. Cano was routinely rated as one of, if not the best second baseman in baseball during his time in New York (and throughout his career). From his second season in 2006 to his final one in pinstripes, 2013, Cano’s 43.6 WAR was the fifth-best sport. At the same time, it was close between Cano and Gordon, Cano’s peak offensive years as a Yankee made him select this team.

Third Base- Alex Rodriguez (2004-2016)

.283/.378/.523, .900 OPS, 136 OPS+, 54.0 WAR, 1,580 H, 351 HR, 1,096 RBI

2x MVP, 1x World Series, 7x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger

There might be many controversial opinions about this decision, but Alex Rodriguez is the best third baseman in Yankees history. Throughout history, the Yankees have not necessarily had the best third basemen in the sport. However, that changed once they traded for A-Rod and moved him to third base. He instantly went from best shortstop in the league to best third baseman.

A-Rod may never have won a Gold Glove in pinstripes, but it should not be forgotten how good he was defensively at the hot corner. Offensively, he was only peak-Rodriguez until about 2009, but the numbers have put in pinstripes to that point were otherworldly. A-Rod reached both 3,000 hits and 600 home runs as a Yankee. His Yankees career includes the highs of leading the team to its 27th World Series championship to missing the 2014 season because of his involvement in the biogenesis scandal. His Yankees career was tumultuous at best, but he is statistically the best third baseman in team history.

Shortstop- Derek Jeter (1995-2014)

.310/.377/.440, .817 OPS, 115 OPS+, 71.3 WAR, 3,465 H, 266 HR, 1,311 RBI, 358 SB

Hall of Fame (2020), 5x World Series, 14x All-Star, 5x Silver Slugger, 5x Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year, World Series MVP

This was another easy selection for the Yankees’ all-time team. There isn’t another shortstop in team history who even comes close. Traditionally, this is not a high offensive position, but Derek Jeter had 12 years where he posted a batting average of at least .300. He was an above-average hitter by OPS+ in 16 of his 20 big league seasons. He is Mr. November.

The flip play. They dive into the stands. The leadoff home run in the 2000 Subway Series. The walk-off hit in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium. There are so many iconic Derek Jeter moments that it is hard to pick out the best truly. He is the franchise leader in hits and sixth all-time in that category. Jeter unfortunately never won an MVP but finished in the top-10 in voting six times. While maybe never the best player in the league, Yankees fans got to experience two decades of Jeter’s greatness at shortstop.

Left Field- Mickey Mantle (1951-1968)

.298/.421/.557, .977 OPS, 172 OPS+, 110.2 WAR, 2,415 H, 536 HR, 1,509 RBI

Hall of Fame (1974), 3x MVP, 7x World Series, 20x All-Star, Triple Crown

Mickey Mantle is one of the most decorated baseball players ever. He is also the best switch hitter ever. The mantle is a center fielder, but we move him into left field for this team. He actually played 108 career games in left field, so it’s not like he is totally inexperienced here. The Yankees have a long history of excellent outfielders, and Mantle is arguably the best of them all, except for Babe Ruth. His selection to this team was also an easy one as he hit over 500 home runs and posted over 100 WAR throughout his career, which is something only ten players in history have accomplished. Mickey Mantle is an inner-circle Hall of Famer and one of the five-best Yankees of all time.

Center Field- Joe DiMaggio (1936-1951)

.325/.398/.579, .977 OPS, 155 OPS+, 79.2 WAR, 2,214 H, 361 HR, 1,537 RBI

Hall of Fame (1955), 3x MVP, 13x All-Star, 9x World Series, 2x Batting Title

Along with Mantle, Ruth, Jeter, Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio is one of the most popular baseball players. When looking at Dimaggio’s 361 HR and 79.2 WAR, those seem like sort of underwhelming figures relative to his reputation. However, these are incredible numbers considering DiMaggio missed three prime seasons from 1943 to 1945 due to his active duty in World War II. He was an all-star in every single one of his 13 seasons and earned MVP votes in 12 of them. You cannot go wrong with either DiMaggio or Mantle in center field, but it only feels right to include both of them on this Yankees all-time team.

Right Field- Babe Ruth (1920-1934)

.349/.484/.711, 1.195 OPS, 209 OPS+, 143.4 WAR, 2,518 H, 659 HR, 1,978 RBI

Hall of Fame (1936), MVP, 6x World Series, 2x All-Star, Batting Title

Babe Ruth single-handedly changed the course of baseball with his swing for the fences style of play. In 1920 (59 HR) and 1927 (60 HR), Ruth out-homered the rest of the league. What Ruth was able to accomplish in pinstripes is utterly astounding. He led the league in home runs ten times while in New York. His .690 SLG, 1.195 OPS, and 209 OPS+ are the greatest figures of all time and are seemingly unlikely ever to be matched. Ruth is a fundamental piece of baseball history and has a deserved place in the right field on this Yankees’ all-time team.

Designated Hitter- Charlie Keller (1939-1949, 1952)

Statistics and Awards: .286/.410/.518, .928 OPS, 153 OPS+, 42.7 WAR, 1,053 H, 184 HR, 723 RBI

3x World Series, 5x All-Star

Filling out this DH position was probably the hardest part of this project. Ultimately it came down to a player whose career was not good enough to be one of the position players on this team but still put up outstanding numbers in pinstripes for a decade. Like Dimaggio, Charlie Keller also served time in the military during World War II and lost a prime season of his career. He only played 11 seasons with the Yankees yet put up a 153 OPS+, ranking fifth all-time in franchise history (min. 4000 PA). Keller has 189 career home runs but twice hit 30 or more with New York, driving in 100+ runs four times. Keller was also fantastic in the postseason as he hit five home runs with a .306 batting average and .978 OPS in 19 postseason games.

Starting Pitcher- Whitey Ford (1950-1967)

Statistics and Awards: 236-106, 2.75 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 133 ERA+, 3,170 1/3 IP

Hall of Fame (1974), 6x World Series, Cy Young, 10x All=Star, 2x ERA Title, WS MVP

Easily the greatest starting pitcher in team history, Whitey Ford gets the nod on this roster. Ironically, Ford’s lone Cy Young award was not even close to his best season, yet he was so good he still won it. Like many others during this period in U.S. history, Ford missed his age-22 and-23 seasons due to active duty in the military. Only five times in his 16-year career did he put up an ERA above 3.00, never reaching higher than 3.24. Ford is also one of the best postseason pitchers, with a 2.71 ERA over 22 starts and 146 innings pitched. Ford was an easy selection as the starting pitcher for the Yankees’ all-time team. His sheer dominance in pinstripes and status as the best pitcher in team history.

Relievers

Mariano Rivera (1995-2013)

Rich “Goose” Gossage (1978-1983, 1989)

Sparkly Lyle (1972-1978)

When thinking about relievers in Yankees history, these are probably the three names that immediately come to mind. Mariano Rivera is, hands down, the greatest reliever of all time. His 652 career saves, and 205 career ERA+ are the best figures ever, with no other pitcher coming even close in both categories. Rivera pitched 141 career postseason innings, racking up 42 saves and posting a minuscule 0.70 ERA. Lastly, Rivera’s is the only unanimous Hall of Famer in voting history.

Rich “Goose” Gossage is an incredible reliever who played for nine teams but spent seven years with the Yankees. In his prime Yankees career, from 1978 through 1983, Gossage placed top-5 in Cy Young voting three times while making four all-star teams. He even finished as high as 3rd in MVP voting in 1978 as he pitched 134 1/3 innings to the tune of a 2.01 ERA while collecting 27 saves. Gossage averaged 86 innings per season during his prime in pinstripes with a 2.10 ERA, 2.59 FIP, and 183 ERA+.

Sparky Lyle also spent seven seasons in New York, and his innings totals prove how different the state of relief pitching was during his era compared to Rivera’s. Lyle pitched 100 or more innings five times as a Yankee, pitching as much as 137 innings in 1977. That year, Lyle won the Cy Young award and finished sixth in MVP voting as he won 13 games, racked up 26 saves, and posted a 2.17 ERA. Lyle was a 3x all-star in his Yankees career, posted a 2.41 ERA and 2.91 FIP, and saved 141 games.

Yankees All-Time Team Honorable Mentions

1B Don Mattingly (1982-1995)

2B Joe Gordon (1938-1950)

OF Bernie Williams (1991-2006)

SP Ron Guidry (1975-1988)

It was nearly impossible to limit this to only four honorable mentions. Don Mattingly is the second-best first baseman in team history, while Ron Guidry owns the best individual season by a Yankees starting pitcher. Bernie Williams was in strong contention for the DH position, but it felt wrong putting him there considering he won four world series titles with the Yankees as a stalwart in center field. Joe Gordon was in solid consideration at second base as he a Hall of Famer and put up solid numbers for a second baseman while in New York.

Additional considerations for this roster and honorable mentions include Reggie Jackson, Bill Dickey, Willie Randolph, Craig Nettles, Dellin Betances, and Paul O’Neill. This franchise possesses the highest level of talent of any franchise in baseball, and this Yankees all-time team makes that very clear. While maybe not every player would be as great as they were if they played today, the numbers that they put up are undeniable.

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