The Mount Rushmore of the New York Yankees

Photo credit: US PRESSWIRE

The New York Yankees close out the American League entries in our Mount Rushmore series, and this one is a doozy.

This franchise started as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901 and after a couple of unremarkable years they relocated to New York and renamed themselves the Highlanders. In 10 years under that name, they had some decent years, with a few 2nd-place finishes. In 1913 they rebranded themselves as the Yankees. Come 1921, they won their league 3 times in a row, and after losing the World Series in 1921 and 1922, they won their first world championship in 1923.

The Yankees won their next championship in 1927, with what is largely regarded as the great baseball team ever fielded. They won again in 1928, and 1932. Then, in 1936, they started a run of 4 championships in a row.  More wins in 1941, 1943, and 1947 preceded a 5-year championship run starting in 1949.

Between 1955 and 1964, they made 9 more World Series, winning 4 times. The team then had a long dry spell, with no post-season appearances for 11 years, what felt like an eternity then. Between 1976 and 1981 they made 4 more World Series, winning twice. Then there was a 13-year dry spell, with no playoff appearances. Finally in 1995 they made it back and won 5 championships between 1996 and 2009.

Whew.

Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that this franchise has had a ton of fantastic players. Choosing the 4 isn’t going to be easy…let’s give it a try.

Here are the top 15 Yankees batters, by career WAR:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Babe Ruth 138.2 1920 1934
2 Lou Gehrig 108.5 1923 1939
3 Mickey Mantle 105.5 1951 1968
4 Joe DiMaggio 75.1 1936 1951
5 Derek Jeter 70.1 1995 2012
6 Yogi Berra 56.2 1946 1963
7 Bill Dickey 52.4 1928 1946
8 Willie Randolph 51.7 1976 1988
9 Alex Rodriguez 50.5 2004 2012
10 Bernie Williams 45.9 1991 2006
11 Tony Lazzeri 44.7 1926 1937
12 Thurman Munson 43.3 1969 1979
13 Roy White 43.0 1965 1979
14 Graig Nettles 41.0 1973 1983
15 Earle Combs 40.0 1924 1935
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/9/2012.

OK, so, here ar some of the players who didn’t make the top 15: Don Mattingly, Jorge Posada, Gil McDougald, Phil Rizzuto, Rickey Henderson…for many other teams, these guys would have a legit shot at making their Mount Rushmore. For the Yankees, they don’t necessarily even make the ballot.

Here are the pitchers, top 15 by WAR:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Mariano Rivera 52.7 1995 2012
2 Whitey Ford 50.6 1950 1967
3 Ron Guidry 45.4 1975 1988
4 Andy Pettitte 45.0 1995 2012
5 Red Ruffing 41.7 1930 1946
6 Lefty Gomez 39.5 1930 1942
7 Bob Shawkey 39.0 1915 1927
8 Mel Stottlemyre 37.5 1964 1974
9 Mike Mussina 33.1 2001 2008
10 Waite Hoyt 32.0 1921 1930
11 Herb Pennock 29.9 1923 1933
12 Ray Caldwell 27.1 1910 1918
13 Jack Chesbro 26.6 1903 1909
14 Russ Ford 24.3 1909 1913
15 Dave Righetti 21.8 1979 1990
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/9/2012.

Wanna know who didn’t make this list? Spud Chandler, Rich Gossage, Tommy John, Allie Reynolds, Roger Clemens…another wow.

OK, here’s the poll. I tried to limit it to 10 hitters & 10 pitchers but found that it wasn’t possible, so it’s an awfully long list. And away we go.

Please choose 4.


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Dan
Editor
Dan
8 years ago

I might take a stab at breaking out a few era-based Mt. Rushmores, and I’m interested to see if others do so as well, although even that’s going to be tough. But, honestly, it seems like it’s gotta Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle and DiMaggio for me. No pitchers, but honestly none of them seem as deserving as those four guys to me.

Doug
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Ditto. Seems crazy to leave out Jeter and Rivera, but no way you could leave off any of the top 4 on your WAR list.

For eras, I’ll go with:
20s-40s – Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Dickey
50s-70s – Mantle, Ford, Berra, Guidry
80s-now – Jeter, Rivera, Mussina, Pettitte

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

I was trying to figure out how I want to break out the eras, but this simple approach seems as good as any: three decades each, skipping the first two decades, which seems fair.

20s-40s: I can’t imagine picking anyone but the four you did.
50s-70s: I love Guidry, but I’d probably replace him with Munson. The other three are obvious.
80s-now: I’d probably take Bernie Williams over Mussina. I see WAR favors A-Rod, but I’m not ready to put him there.

Doug
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

I agree with dropping Mussina. I always remembered him as primarily a Yankee, but actually he played more as an Oriole. But, rather than Bernie, I’d move Guidry from the second era to the third since he straddles the boundary and actually played longer in the 80s. That leaves room for Munson in the second group (and I did agonize over leaving him out).

So, my revised list:
20s-40s – Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Dickey
50s-70s – Mantle, Ford, Berra, Munson
80s-now – Jeter, Rivera, Guidry, Pettitte

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

I like it.

I usually equate Guidry with the ’70s because of his monster 1978 season, but you’re right. He does just as easily fit in the ’80s, and I would prefer to honor him over Bernie.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

As long as we’re at it why not 1903-1919:

Peckinpaugh, Pipp, Baker and Chesbro

Steve
Steve
6 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Agree 100%
20s-40s – Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Dickey
50s-70s – Mantle, Ford, Berra, Munson
80s-now – Jeter, Rivera, Guidry, Pettitte

Brent
Brent
8 years ago

Well, impossible. But, I went Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle and Rivera (over Ford, because the Mick already was representing the drinking crowd of the 50s and 60s Yankees).

Now, if you broke it down by position:

Infield Rushmore: Gehrig, Jeter, ARod and Dickey;

Outfield Rushmore: Ruth, Mantle, Dimaggio, and Berra (OK, sure I am cheating, but he did play LF for the Bombers after Elston Howard showed up and there isn’t much difference between Dickey and Berra and I wanted them both)

Pitcher Rushmore: Mariano, Ford, Pettitte and Guidry.

Brent
Brent
8 years ago

Overrated Yankee Rushmore: Dimaggio, Reggie, Jeter, Lazzeri

Underrated Yankee Rushmore: Randolph, Bernie, Roy White, McDougald

Dan
Editor
Dan
8 years ago
Reply to  Brent

Oh boy.

I’ll leave Jeter alone, but I wonder what’s your basis for claiming DiMaggio’s over-rated? 75 career WAR in just 7500 plate appearances; missed three years to WWII, his age 28-30 seasons. It seems everybody loves to talk about Ted Williams’ service history, but not DiMaggio’s. He also was a right-handed hitter in Yankee stadium when the left-center field fence was somewhere around 460′ from home plate.

You want to talk over-rated Yankees, I’ll give you Lazzeri and add Herb Pennock, Earle Combs, and Waite Hoyt.

Brent
Brent
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan

I knew that would cause a reaction. Here’s how he is overrated? Who is the greatest Yankee CF? If you even think about someone other than Mantle, then that person is overrated. Overrated can mean a lot of different things. Tony Lazzeri is overrated because he is in the HOF and shouldn’t be. Derek Jeter is overrated becausea as great as he is, too many fans put a St. in front of his name. Reggis is overrated because hitting 3 HRs in a WS game doesn’t make you the best postseason player of your generation. And JoeD? Well, he is… Read more »

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Brent

I hear you that the term overrated is highly subjective, but I don’t agree that DiMaggio doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Mantle. I already mentioned the three years DiMaggio missed due to the war. We can’t give him back those years, and I’m not an advocate for projecting what he would have done, so let’s just take a look at WAR/162 games for each guy: Mantle (per 162): 654 PA, 7.5 WAR DiMaggio (per 162): 653 PA, 6.9 WAR I’m not saying this should be the extent of the comparison of the two, but Mantle… Read more »

Brent
Brent
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Dan: I think JoeD is great, but I rest my argument with 2 comments below (at 22 and 24). That is where my comment about overrated came from.

Alex
Alex
8 years ago
Reply to  Brent

If Lazzeri is overrated for being in the Hall undeservedly, I think you have the wrong Italian Yankee middle-infielder. While Lazzeri is kind of borderline (126 OPS+ from a second basemen is pretty damn impressive), if probably a little short of Copperstown standards, Rizzuto has absolutely no business within a mile of the Hall. Wouldn’t he make more sense on your overrated Rushmore?

Howard
Howard
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Not in the top 15 in WAR but Charlie Keller may be the most underrated Yankee.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  Howard

Keller’s OPS+ of 152 puts him at number 28 on the all-time list. On the all-time Yankee list he is 5th, behind you know who.

Joseph
Joseph
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan

I’m a Yankee fan (and Italian, no less) and I’ve always thought of Joe DiMaggio as overrated because they gave him the MVP in both 1941 and 1947 instead of Ted Williams.

Adam Darowski
8 years ago
Reply to  Brent

Overrated Yankee Rushmore: Dimaggio

That shit’s bananas.

Hartvig
Hartvig
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

I would disagree, at least in one sense. This is not to say that DiMaggio wasn’t a great player. Even if you include players excluded from the Major Leagues by discrimination and even discount Dimaggio’s performance because he didn’t have to face those same players and even if you give him no credit for the time he spent in the military he is still easily in the top 10 center fielders of all time and by almost any line of reasoning you might care to use no lower than 7th on that list. In my own mind I would put… Read more »

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

On a side note, I’d like to say that Pie Traynor and Lou Brock are in a special class of over-rated that Bill Terry doesn’t belong in.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Probably,but Traynor and Brock are still much better HOF choices then at least half a dozen of The Friends Of Frankie Frisch, such as Dave Bancroft, George Kelly, Rube Marquard, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines and Ross Youngs.

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

I agree with Lawrence as well. However, a commenter on the Thurman Munson post opened my eyes to Ross Youngs’ premature death. This is from his BR Bullpen page:

“In early 1926, he was diagnosed with Bright’s disease but still was a regular for the club that season. By the next year, he was bedridden, and Youngs died in October at age 30. Despite his short career, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.”

Not saying he definitely belongs in the Hall, but I’d put him in the Brock/Traynor category before the Marquard/Hafey/Kelly category.

Adam Darowski
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

I’m a bit easier on Youngs, too. Still, I don’t think he was anywhere close to Munson. I have Munson at the Hall of Fame borderline at the time of his death. Youngs was only 60% of the way there. Still, he probably could have made it to 80% or so, which certainly doesn’t make him an awful choice.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

#119/Adam –
Ross Youngs is similar to Addie Joss in that both were making good progress building a HOF case, when they were tragically struck down in their very early 30s.

There are also similar questions concerning their HOF elegibility: Youngs’ 10th season was only 7 games,while Joss only had 9 seasons total (they fudged that, by saying that Joss was in spring training for his 10th season….

Youngs did get HOF votes 17 times over 21 years (peaking at 19.1%), so he did have some HOF support beyond that of Frisch.

Hartvig
Hartvig
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Let’s keep a little perspective here guys. I did not say Traynor, Brock and Terry sucked just as I pointed out very clearly that DiMaggio did not suck. Traynor, Brock & Terry are all very, very good players and arguably great players. I personally have no problem with any of them being in the Hall of Fame. But you can belong in the Hall of Fame and still be over-rated. Traynor is the easiest. He was the consensus “greatest third baseman ever” for almost 50 years even tho he wasn’t even the best of his own era- the would be… Read more »

Chad
Chad
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

I think he was overrated in the regard that he was crowned with the mythical “Best player alive” title over Williams, Aaron, Mays, Mantle, Musial, etc.

His legend is built up, I believe, due to the romanticism with this hit streak. A very impressive feat, indeed, but his streak slash line of .408/.463/.717 is not as impressive as Williams’ season line of .406/.553/.735 Joe’s winning MVP that year is a farce.

Joe is, to me, solidly #4 all-time amongst the Yankees.

Tmckelv
Tmckelv
8 years ago
Reply to  Chad

Bill Terry had hit .400 “only” 11 years prior in 1930 and several guys put up .380+ averages in the years between Terry and Williams. I don’t think .400 was seen as the huge accomplishment that it is today. The fans/writers were absolutely occupied by Dimaggio’s streak for about a month during the 1941 season. I think if everyone knew that there would never be another .400 hitter for the next 70+ years (if ever), then perhaps Ted would have gotten the MVP. If you think that was a bad choice now…just wait until someone breaks the 56 game hitting… Read more »

cborgia
cborgia
6 years ago
Reply to  Chad

Two things to remember:
1)Ted Williams biggest obstacle in mvp balloting was his relationship with Boston sportswriters, who refused to vote for him even though he was the best hitter in baseball.
2) DiMaggio was considered by many the best outfielder in the world; Williams was an indifferent fielder. Dimaggio was a great baserunner; Williams was not so hot.
And anybody who thinks he was overrated because Williams should have won in 47 should look at the numbers in 37 and 48.

Adam Darowski
8 years ago
Reply to  Brent

That said, Randolph, White, and McDougald sure were underrated. Not so sure about Bernie. I’d put Munson on there first. I think Munson should be in the Hall.

Brent
Brent
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

I also think Nettles and maybe even Chambliss were underrated, but I didn’t think making my all underrated team with just 1970s Yankees was very balanced, but I did think about Munson for sure.

topper009
topper009
8 years ago
Reply to  Brent

Maybe in his time he was overrated if a 1950s baseball fan would consider him the 2nd greatest player of all-time behind Ruth, but nowadays I think Joe DiMaggio is actually underrated. He is currently #33 on the ELO rater, and I think he should be closer to a top ten player. He seems to get very little credit for missing his age-seasons 28, 29 and 30 to the war whereas everyone who brings up Williams always says don’t forget war credit. But far, far more importantly he does not get credit for being a righty in Yankee Stadium. Look… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

DiMaggio has an RBI/G ratio of 0.885, third best behind only Gehrig and Greenberg.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

You make some quality points Topper. It got me thinking about something that I’m not sure I’ve seen discussed much. To what extent does a player on a great team benefit from not having to hit against their own pitching staff? While not known as much for their pitchers, here’s how the Yankees ranked in ERA during Dimaggio’s years: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd. I think I got them all though I might have missed a year or two. So while not known for their individual pitchers the Yankees definitely had quality staffs.… Read more »

topper009
topper009
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

A lot of that is probably due to the ridiculous dimensions. Despite those ERA rankings here are the Pinstripe hurler WAR rankings in the Clipper era:

3rd, 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 4th, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 4th.

They were usually above average but their stadium made them look like the best in the league

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

Fair point Topper, raw ERA probably wasn’t the best way to look at it. Anyway, I’m still interested in the more general topic. For example, if you played for the Braves when they had Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz et al, did you get an artificial WAR boost from not having to hit against those pitchers? I honestly have no idea.

topper009
topper009
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

Teams in other divisions need to be considered also, for example Greg Maddux only pitched 6 innings against the Padres in 1998. The NL West/Central teams were also not facing the Braves as often as other NL East teams

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

I agree Topper. I’m just raising the general issue but it seems like no one but you and I are interested in the topic. Or maybe no one knows the answer.

bstar
bstar
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

Ed @125 and 133, yes quality of opponent is factored into rWAR, at least for pitchers. Under the Player Value table, look for RA9opp for pitchers, which is the average number of runs scored by THIS PITCHER’S opposition per 9 innings. It leads to RA9avg, then to RAA, then WAA, then WAR.

I’m not as sure about hitters, but I’d be surprised if Sean F. and Rally don’t have this factored in somewhere. rWAR is so much more sophisticated than people give it credit for.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

Thanks Bstar though my question is more the opposite: how are WAR (and other advanced stats) affected by the players you don’t face (namely your teammates)? Maybe there’s no real difference between that and factoring in quality of opposition but I’m not sure.

bstar
bstar
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

Ed, it answers that for pitchers. If your teammates are the best hitters in the league, RA9opp will show that you faced easier opponents than everyone else. Again, I don’t know about the batters.

topper009
topper009
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

Well taking Chipper Jones as an example (there must be better ones) the league ERA he has played in was 4.25 (1995-2012 NL). The league ERA minus the Braves was 4.29, so Chipper faced pitchers who were 1% worse than other players not on the Braves. Not a very big deal I guess.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

While Joe Dimaggio was certainly hurt by being a righty pull hitter in the Old Yankee Stadium, he was also helped by playing his career in a well above-average offensive environment. His first four years (1936-1939) were amongst the higher runs/game in the 20th century: 1st,4th,8th,10th.

His neutralized slah line is .314/.388/.560, compared to an actual .325/.398/.579.

I wouldn’t read _too much_ into him being 33rd on B-R’s ELO meter; Barry Bonds is #30, one behind Wade Boggs.

MikeD
MikeD
8 years ago
Reply to  Brent

The term “overrated” is the quicksand of discussions and debates. It’s a nonstarter. It has no meaning but to the person using the term.

MatthewC
MatthewC
8 years ago

I did vote based on era, since picking just four is ridiculous anyway, and that meant Ruth goes on but Gehrig does not. Crazy. Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jeter. I hate to have no pitchers but they didn’t mean as much to the history of the franchise. Of course a separate mountain needs to be built just for Rivera. Greatest postseason pitcher ever.

brp
brp
8 years ago

Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Jeter. I imagine it’ll end up the first three plus DiMaggio but I have a hard time leaning that hard toward pre-1960 ballplayers.

Gehrig’s only on my list because of the fact that he still played professional baseball when he was literally dying (don’t like taking 2 guys from the same era and Ruth has to go in). Lots of guys would be no-brainers for other franchises but won’t have a chance here.

Despite the tons of history and great players it seems very likely Ruth-Gehrig-Mantle-DiMaggio will run away with this in a huge landslide.

Cody Brock
Cody Brock
8 years ago

Can someone tell me how Roger Maris was left off this list? And the only person other than Brent that would like to see a giant head of A-Rod, is probably Alex himself. Brent, are you really Alex?

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago
Reply to  Cody Brock

Why no Roger Maris – because he wasn’t one of the 35 best candidates? I do understand he was a very good player (great in 1960-62) and has the whole fame thing going for him, but if I were to replace any of the 35 names above, I’d rather add a semi-forgotten lifetime-Yankeee, such as Tommy Henrich, Mel Stottlemyre, or Gil McDougald. A pre-1920 candidate (Chesboro?) would’ve also been nice. OTOH, since this is a _subjective exercise_ and based on fandom emotions, Maris wouldn’t have been a terrible choice. I just don’t think he’s an obvious oversight – you’d have… Read more »

Adam Darowski
8 years ago

Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio. Might have been the easiest one yet.

William Tasker
8 years ago

Ack! Only four spots!? Need six or seven. If I had that amount, the list would be: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Jeter and possibly Whitey Ford.

Voomo Zanzibar
8 years ago

Ugh. Rickey? Why even mention Rickey?
Four and a half years.
We only had him for four and a half years.

And I’ve just relived the moment of buying the NY Daily News on my way to the last day of school in 1989, turning to the back cover, and seeing that Rickey was gone. For Eric Plunk.

I’m taking the rest of the day off from baseball…

Thomas Court
Thomas Court
8 years ago

It’s hard to imagine a Yankees Mount Rushmore that does not include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera.

I have to go with Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle and Rivera. You know it’s a tough vote with you have leave off a player who hit in 56 straight games, a catcher called the best of all-time by Bill James, and a player who is likely going to finish his career with 3600+ hits.

It’s impressive even when you only consider players who have played for the Yankees and no one else.

mosc
mosc
8 years ago
Reply to  Thomas Court

You can’t leave off DiMaggio for any reason. I don’t understand this. I’d rather leave off Ruth than DiMaggio. He is the greatest Yankee of all time.

Chad
Chad
8 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Um, no. I don’t understand how you could even remotely put Joe above Ruth, or Gehrig, and while I could see an argument for putting him over Mantle, you’d NEVER get me to take Joe over the Mick.

Phil Gaskill
Phil Gaskill
8 years ago
Reply to  Thomas Court

Yeah, the number of guys on the hitters’ list who played their whole careers with the Yankees is amazing: Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio, Jeter, Yogi (except for 9 PA in 4 G with the Mets after having been totally retired for a year), Dickey, Bernie, Munson, White, Combs. Ten out of 15, if we let Yogi in. I don’t have the time or energy to check out the top 15 hitters (or pitchers) for any other team, but I can’t imagine another group like this. (Please knock me upside the haid if I’m wrong about that.) Pitchers, not so much, but… Read more »

mosc
mosc
8 years ago

I agree with the approach of trying to cover as many championships as possible. Jeter may not be in the top 4 of WAR but he was the face of the team through the most recent championships making him the easy choice. 28 world series can not be covered by 4 people. Ruth 23,27,28, and 32 NOTE: 1935 they didn’t win which is the year without Ruth or DiMaggio which is why you don’t need Gehrig for this exercise. DiMaggio 36,37,38,39,41,47,49,50,51* NOTE: not covered 1943, double covered 51. Mantle 51*,52,53,56,58,61,62 NOTE: not covered 1977,1978 Jeter 96,98,99,00,09 I guess #5 would… Read more »

Tmckelv
Tmckelv
8 years ago

I am a Yankee fan so I could probably come up with a personal Yankee Mount Rushmore with 1000 players. But here is my effort to keep it reasonable (not necessarily objective). I first thought I would do a break down by position, but that leads to a longer list of guys, plus I have done all of the teams by eras until now so I will continue that. 1) 1901 thru 1919 (Deadball) – 0 World Series Appearances Jack Chesbro, Hal Chase, Willie Keeler, Roger Peckinpaugh, Home Run Baker, Jimmy Williams, Les Nunamaker, Jeff Sweeney, Ray Caldwell, Russ Ford,… Read more »

Tmckelv
Tmckelv
8 years ago
Reply to  Andy

#1 Babe Ruth
#2 Lou Gehrig

#998 Joe Lefebvre
#999 Jerry Moses
#1000 Andy Stankiewicz
#1001 A-Rod
#1002 Ron Klimkowski

#1559 Kei Igawa

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Tmckelv

Now you’ve opened up a whole other can of worms: Who are the worst players in Yankees history?

birtelcom
birtelcom
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Based purely on career WAR with the Yankees, the worst Yankees careers have been those of the infielder Enrique Wilson (-3.0 WAR for the Yankees from 2001 to 2004)and the pitcher Andy Hawkins (-2.9 WAR for the Yankees from 1989 to 1991).

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Without looking up anything three players who come to mind are Hensley Meulens, Steve Trout and Ken Clay.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Ed Whitson. He was actually a decent pitcher: 20.1 career WAR but he was a disaster as a Yankee (-2.1 WAR in 1 1/2 years). Also Britt Burns who of course never actually pitched for the Yankees.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Rather than use “WAR as a Yankee” as a blunt instrument, I think the spirit of the question is more “who were the most _disappointing_ players in Yankees history”.

I don’t think there were great expectations for Enrique Wilson.

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

These are all good examples of names that conjure up bad memories for Yankees fans. I was kind of looking for both angles: definitely curious what WAR would say, but also interested in thinking beyond that to most disappointing or biggest bust or whatever.

Ed Whitson is kind of the poster child for the “Couldn’t handle New York” crowd.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

That’s the stereotype of Whitson, but it’s not actually true. In 1985 he had a 4.08 ERA in Yankee Stadium, 5.48 on the road. My quick back of the envelope calculations shows that he was also worse on the road in ’86 when he was with the Yankees.

Tmckelv
Tmckelv
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

“Without looking up anything three players who come to mind are Hensley Meulens, Steve Trout and Ken Clay.” Nice. I remember wanting “Bam Bam” Meulens to be great. Seems like I waited 5 years for it to never come true. I was actually excited when the Yankees traded for Steve Trout…He was always good against the Yanks and was otherwise pretty decent for the 2 Chicago teams. Again, I waited for results that never materialized. Ken Clay was a pretty nondescript relief pitcher of the late 1970’s…but I want to say he did something good with the Yanks – I… Read more »

Dave V.
Dave V.
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

My Mount Rushmore of the worst Yankees:

1. Kevin Brown
2. Carl Pavano
3. Kenny Rogers
4. Raul Mondesi

As for the actual Mount Rushmore, I voted for Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle and Jeter. I hate not being able to vote for DiMaggio (as well as Mariano and Yogi). But I think Jeter deserves a spot here, especially so that someone from the past 40+ years of the Yankees is represented.

Joseph
Joseph
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

To make this meaningful (if possible), I think it needs to have a minimum number of plate appearances or innings pitched. That Jake Gibbs managed to stay with the team for 11 years is a sad statement about the dark years of late 60’s and early 70’s for us Yankee fans.

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

@Ed #50: It mostly is just the stuff of legend, but the concept of “handling New York” means more than being able to pitch at home in New York. It’s more about being able to handle the pressure of pitching for the Yankees. Pitching on the road for the hated Yankees is certainly part of that.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

#61 Oh I agree. It’s just that for some reason most people (myself included) think that Whitson was a lot worse in Yankee Stadium than on the road. Not that he was good in Yankee Stadium, just better than on the road…

Jason Z
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

I am shocked that no one has mentioned the man who personified the shift from power to speed
after the boss decided to let Reggie leave.

He is number one on my list of worst Yankees…

1. Dave Collins
2. Steve Kemp
3. Butch Wynegar
4. Ed Whitson
5. Bert Campaneris
6. Steve Trout
7. Ken Clay
8. Brad Gulden (Did well with the mustard)

birtelcom
birtelcom
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Jake Gibbs in the 60s/early 70s had similar numbers to those that Rick Cerone put up for the Yankees in the 80s. Gibbs played in 531 games as Yankee, put up an 81 OPS+ and accumulated 5.6 WAR (b-ref version). Cerone played in 587 games for the Yanks, put up an 80 OPS+ in his games as a Yankee and accumulated 3.2 WAR in those games.

They played similar roles for the Yanks: regular starting catcher when there wasn’t any better choice, and a backup when there was.

Howard
Howard
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

George Halas, 1919: 2 singles in 22 ABs with 8 Ks and 0 BBs.

RJ
RJ
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

@38 and 53 You mean Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau and World Series winner Sir Hensley Meulens? 🙂

Bells
Bells
8 years ago

what, no Steinbrenner?

Bells
Bells
8 years ago
Reply to  Andy

I, for one, am glad you didn’t think more about it.

Doug
Editor
8 years ago

Yogi Berry?

Has a nice ring to it, but I still prefer the original.

🙂

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Not to mention Phil Ruzzuto.

MikeD
MikeD
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

I think this is a hanging chad situation. We need a recount!

Bryan Grosnick
8 years ago

I know people won’t love it, but I definitely went with Ruth / Gehrig / Mantle / Rivera. Sure, you can make the case for DiMaggio or Berra or Jeter over Mo … but the greatest Yankees pitcher of all time (by rWAR) deserves a fair shot at the mountain.

Joseph
Joseph
8 years ago
Reply to  Bryan Grosnick

I chose the same four, because I felt like there needed to be one pitcher at least.

Plus, I couldn’t choose between Joe D. and Jeter.

birtelcom
birtelcom
8 years ago

If I were arguing for Berra as at least the equal of DiMaggio from a Yankee Rushmore point of view, the argument might go something like this: (1) Comparing catchers to center fielders head-to-head is trying to cpopmare apples to oranges. Maybe it;s better to look at how Joe D. and Yogi rank amongst their all-time peers. Adam Darowski’s weighted WAR rnaks Joe D. as number 6 all-time among center fielders (behind Mays, Cobb, Speaker, Mantle and Junior Griffey) and Berra number 6 all-time amohng catchers (behind Bench, Carter, I-Rod, Fisk and Piazza). So call that a wash. (2) On… Read more »

Doug
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

To finish your thought.

Berra .811 (.830)

birtelcom
birtelcom
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Thanks, Doug. I somehow managed to leave Berra’s numbers off, although that was sort of the point of the whole list. Brain freeze.

Adam Darowski
8 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

Hey, wWAR! 🙂 Been working on a new formula. Here’s the latest:

DiMaggio: 168.7
Berra: 135.5

Mike L
Mike L
8 years ago

Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle. Then it gets really hard. Interesting if you look at Bill James’s Hall of Fame Monitor
Ruth 464 (including 42 from pitching)
Gehrig 352
Jeter 329 (big leg up because of position)
Mantle 300
DiMaggio 260
Rivera 251
Berra 226
Ford 208

Tmckelv
Tmckelv
8 years ago
Reply to  Mike L

I was actually looking at the career leaders for Hall of Fame Monitor today.

Jeter has really squeezed everything out of that “Stat” that he possibly could. It looks like he has a shot at going into 10th place all-time(!) if everything falls his way this year.

He needs a subset of the following possible season milestones:
100 runs (has 89 now), 200 hits (191), .300 BA (.324), 35 doubles (29), and a division win by the Yankees.

Bells
Bells
8 years ago

Honestly, although it’s crazy to leave so many players off, this really is the easiest one yet. The idea of putting a face on a mountain is basically to make someone larger than life, to honour someone larger than life, to pay tribute to legend. I don’t even want to look at the numbers, even though the WAR numbers back it up: the four that rise clearly above the rest are Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio. They are among greats, but they are legends.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  Bells

Bells: You took the words right out of my mouth.

To honor more players here’s my Rushmore for only players who were traded from the KC A’s to the Yankees: Roger Maris, Bobby Shantz, Clete Boyer and Ralph Terry. I had to leave off Hector Lopez and Ryne Duren.

James Smyth
8 years ago

I submit a recent-history bad-pitching Rushmore of Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa and Jaret Wright

Dan McCloskey
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  James Smyth

What do you have against Javier Vazquez? 😉

Dave V.
Dave V.
8 years ago
Reply to  James Smyth

ha, I mentioned Brown and Pavano in my anti-Rushmore list of Yanks before reading your comment. Igawa and Wright are also fine nominees.

Zippy Zappy
Zippy Zappy
8 years ago

I chose the Core 4.
You can tell me the stats and legacies of the Gehrigs, Ruths, Mantles, DiMaggios etc… but I’m a 90’s kid. To me 4 faces that represent the Yankees are Pettitte, Posada, Rivera & Jeter.

Artie Z
Artie Z
8 years ago

Why the eras approach bothers me – the real Mount Rushmore has Washington and Jefferson, who were “in the same era”. Around the time the plans for this Rushmore were being discussed there was talk of swapping out Jefferson for Andrew Jackson just to cover more championship years, but folks were ultimately dissuaded. (That line is tongue-in-cheek and not fact, should someone doing historical research stumble across this and start digging through documents trying to substantiate that claim.) Which is why Gehrig joins Ruth, Mantle, and DiMaggio. As for Jeter – well, someone has to be 5th. When they make… Read more »

CursedClevelander
CursedClevelander
8 years ago

To me, when you count war credit for Joe, the 4 Faces are the same as they’ve been for over 40 years now: Ruth/Gehrig/DiMaggio/Mantle.

For any other franchise, Jeter/Berra/Rivera/Ford would be a fantastic Rushmore. For the Yanks, it’s the B-Team.

PP
PP
8 years ago

I am a little surprised there’s so little love for Yogi, possibly the second best catcher ever after Bench?

Ed
Ed
8 years ago

I have to say a few words about Bill Dickey. Here’s a guy who:

a) Played his entire career with the Yankees
b) Is in the HOF
c) Is 7th all-time in catcher WAR
d) Served as player-manager for 105 games in 1946
e) Taught Yogi Berra how to play the catcher position.

And yet, as I type this he has ZERO votes. I’m not saying he deserves votes over the other candidates but it is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Brent
Brent
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Bill James developed something called Catcher Pride Points in one of his books. The idea was to try to measure the seemingly immeasurable, the effect that catchers have on their pitchers. He gave points for winning a GG, for catching 20 game winners, for catching ERA champion (by team), and a bunch of other things. Guess who won? Bill Dickey.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

That’s because Yogi Berra already fills the “best Yankees catcher ever” niche, and even with all he did, Yogi can’t even crack the Top-5. Berra-Dickey isn’t quite on the level of DiMaggio-Mantle.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

It’s interesting…everyone assumes that Berra was the best Yankees catcher. But it’s not clear that’s true. Comparing Berra to Dickey we see: 1) Berra has a slight edge in career WAR (56.1 vs 52.4) but Dickey lost a couple of years near the end of his career due to WWII. Sure Dickey was at the end of his career but he was still putting up positive WAR. 2) In terms of peak WAR, they’re basically indistinguishable. 3) Dickey played his whole career at catcher whereas Berra didn’t. 4) As I previously mentioned, Dickey trained Berra how to catch which has… Read more »

Adam Darowski
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

I’ve been working on a new version of wWAR and here’s what I’ve got:

Berra: 135.5
Dickey: 127.7

Very close, indeed.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

Adam: Does your system give Dickey credit for the two seasons he missed due to WWII?

Adam Darowski
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

It does not. That’s a big point that I meant to bring up.

WAR doesn’t love Yogi Berra, I have to say. In fact, wWAR has Gary Carter as the #2 catcher of all time. Talk about an underrated Hall of Famer…

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

So if you factor that in and give Dickey credit for managing and training Berra, then one could argue that he’s ahead of Berra in terms of total impact.

Adam Darowski
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

I don’t think Dickey was going to earn enough during the time he missed to the war to catch Berra, so it depends what kind of extra credit you’d give for mentoring Berra and managing.

Of course, Yogi did a lot of managing of his own.

Of course, this doesn’t factor in each’s postseason exploits.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

As Yogi put it: “Bill learned me all his experience”.

Adam Darowski
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

Just to dig deeper into WAR and Berra… WAR gives him only 56 runs for position (Dickey also had 56). Berra caught only nine fewer games than Dickey, but also played a decent amount in the outfield, which ended up being a wash. Berra rated decently in the field (+30 runs) and also did well on the bases (+12) and avoiding double plays (+10) for a catcher. In fact, Berra is positive in everything, which is rather awesome. His 228 batting runs felt a bit low to me, considering his 125 OPS+. I searched for all players between 8000 and… Read more »

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

Ah yeah, I had blanked out Berra’s managing career with the Yankees. Neither he nor Dickey managed the Yankees for very long but Berra did do it for a bit longer and with better results.

Joseph
Joseph
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Then why didn’t you vote for him?

PP
PP
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

In the “win shares era” James had Yogi rated as the top catcher of all time and Dickey a not too shabby 7th. Win shares liked Yogi a lot better.

tag
tag
8 years ago

I never approach these things from the perspective of the four best players. For me it has to be who I think of when I think of the team, which encompasses a much broader set of touchstones and references. And when it comes to the Yankees there’s a whole lot of extra-curricular criteria to consider. The Babe is clear. His talent was as outsized as the young city-state’s architecture, and he was brash, opinionated, a man of appetite. He made more money than the president and deserved to. He’s in. Gehrig was a phenomenal player and left his name to… Read more »

Jason Z
8 years ago

Yipee. I have been waiting for this one. This is like debating whether to chose a 10 inch stack of 100’s or a 20 inch stack of 50’s. My answer to the question is Ruth, Mantle, Dimaggio and Jeter (partly because he will exceed 3,800 hits). It is so hard to leave Gherig off. I think it is important that the recent Yankee run be acknowledged though. I also hate leaving off representatives from the late 70’s and early 80’s. IMHO you have to include both Thurman and Reggie. Numbers 5-8, in order are Gherig, Berra, Munson and Jackson. Numbers… Read more »

Hartvig
Hartvig
8 years ago
Reply to  Jason Z

Jason- Your’s was the first post I found that matched my 4 picks which I find a little amazing since they’re 1,3,4 & 5 in the polling so far. Obviously, I voted by era and as I see it the only question came down to Jeter or Rivera. A lot of people have already commented on the ridiculous amount of talent at the top of the ballot. What I find most amazing is the amount of talent that is garnering little or no support or was not on the ballot altogether. Joe Gordon didn’t even make the cutoff. Neither did… Read more »

Jason Z
8 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

I thought for awhile before knocking out the Iron Horse for Jeter. It’s just that to me, Jeter is that good. I also tried to project where Jeter winds up in total hits. He is signed for one more year after this. As I write this he has 191 hit this year and is batting .324. Amazing. He could win the batting title. That would be something. But I digress. He has 3,279 hits. My guess is that he ends the year with 3,315. Let’s say next year he gets 195 hits. Still a good year but a bit of… Read more »

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago

Since it is so obvious who the top four would be, I approached this differently, and chose players that weren’t as good MR candidates, but that I thought deserved at least one vote.

So if you are wondering who voted for:
-Ron Guidry
-Miller Huggins
-Roy White
-Allie Reynolds
(four of the eight players with only one vote so far)

…that’s me.

Phil
8 years ago

Wow–a lot of comments. Haven’t read any of them yet, but I’m still where I was two months ago, that this is the easiest one of all: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle.

Voomo Zanzibar
8 years ago

Huggins
McCarthy
Stengel
Martin

Voomo Zanzibar
8 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

Huggins
1067 719 .597

6 Pennants
3 Championships (including the 1st)
___________________________________

McCarthy
1460 867 .627

8 Pennants
7 Championships
___________________________________

Stengel
1149 696 .623

10 Pennants
7 Championships
___________________________________

Martin
556 385 .591

2 Pennants
1 Championship (plus ’78)

Phil
8 years ago

A different kind of Rushmore: Bouton, Pepitone, Fred Talbot, Dooley Womack.

Voomo Zanzibar
8 years ago
Reply to  Phil

He said to play it louder.

Phil
8 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

Yes—Phil Linz, too!

latefortheparty
latefortheparty
8 years ago

Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle were easy for me. The greatest player ever and guys with solid (though not necessarily winning) arguments for best ever at their positions. I had to think for about 15 seconds to choose Berra over Rivera, Jeter and Dickey. Berra’s got a great argument for best catcher ever. Dickey can make the same argument, though, in my opinion, not quite as well. Rivera is probably the best specialist of all time. Jeter is one of the best hitters to ever play shortstop. With this team though, it’s almost impossible to come up with four unjustified choices.

e pluribus munu
e pluribus munu
8 years ago

I’ve been looking forward to helping carve this mountain, but it’s been a hectic day and I’m just logging on – the heads have already been mounted and they’re the right ones. WAR and the War aside, they gave Hemingway the Nobel for writing about a man, a fish, and DiMaggio – and even if, like me, you think hitting streaks aren’t really something amazing, Marilyn Monroe is another story. I agree DiMaggio was overrated in the sense that Williams was a greater hitter – if this were the Yankee Sox Rushmore, I’d replace DiMaggio with Williams. But then Ruth… Read more »

Doug
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Andy

I agree it’s an interesting photo, but it evoked different thoughts for me. More along the lines of a great player near the end of his career, tired, probably ailing in some manner or other, but still grinding it out like a true pro.

RJ
RJ
8 years ago
Reply to  Andy

Agreed Andy, it is a fantastic photograph. There’s something very personal about it.

Steven
Steven
8 years ago

I went with the basics: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle.

MikeD
MikeD
8 years ago

Choosing the four won’t be easy? Only if you try to make it hard! The four are Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. They are not only among the all-time greats, they are also iconic, with all four of them transcending baseball to become part of American culture and myth, to the point where non-baseball fans of all ages are familiar with the names. As great as Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford were, and Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are, none can crack into the top four, anymore than any president has a chance of removing George Washington and Abraham Lincoln… Read more »

MikeD
MikeD
8 years ago

This is probably a good thread to bring this up since there is the accepted belief that the current New York Yankees were the original Baltimore Orioles that came about with the formation of the American League in 1901. There remains a healthy debate (perhaps even a growing debate) among baseball historians questioning if the Baltimore Orioles were transferred to New York and became the Yankees (or the New York Highlanders, or the New York Americans, or whatever their official name was) in 1903, or if in fact the Baltimore Orioles were basically disbanded, and an entirely new franchise created… Read more »

Tmckelv
Tmckelv
8 years ago
Reply to  MikeD

The Yankees used to like to think of the Orioles and Highlanders as the same franchise because:
1) It would link the team to the beginning of the American League.
2) There is a romantic notion involved because of Babe Ruth being born in Baltimore and there is a poetic parallel there.

But as mentioned above the team stance is 1903 as the start of the franchise. At game 1 of the 2003 World Series, I bought a cap with 100th Anniversary patch that said something to the effect of “100 Years – 1903 to 2003”.

mosc
mosc
8 years ago
Reply to  MikeD

Appel described an ownership with a closer relation to the AL commissioner than to the previous Baltimore team. The highlanders got several good players from Baltimore, but this is inevitable when they are a forming team and another team is closing. The commissioner seems to have wanted Baltimore out and a new team in NY in. That’s the real connection between the two franchises.

MikeD
MikeD
8 years ago
Reply to  mosc

The AL president was Ban Johnson, who basically took the former Western Minor League, renamed it the American League in 1900, and then turned it into a competing Major League the following year by shifting some of the leagues franchises from second-tier cities to major cities, or expanding by establishing new teams in major cities. Once done, he declared the AL a new major league and began raiding talent from the NL, which foolishly had contracted, while establishing a cap on individual salaries. Players weren’t happy, making it easier for the new AL to recuit star players. I mention this… Read more »

oneblankspace
oneblankspace
8 years ago
Reply to  MikeD

In that regard… are today’s Chicago Cubs the Cubs (Colts, Orphans, White Stockings) of 1876-1915, or are they the continuation of the Chicago (Federal) Whales?

See http://goo.gl/a1SrC for my blog post on the question.

mosc
mosc
8 years ago

greater than 1/3rd of these votes don’t include Dimaggio. Amazing. Perhaps more amazing is that Mantle was left off of 1/8th of the ballots.

Chad
Chad
8 years ago
Reply to  mosc

Or that Babe Ruth was left off any.

mosc
mosc
8 years ago

I always joke about DiMaggio’s strikeouts. How many were swinging? The ones that weren’t, I bet they were balls. I think I trust DiMaggio’s eye more than the umpire.

Jason Z
8 years ago
Reply to  mosc

The great thing about baseball is the numbers.

Two of the best are 361 and 369.

Dimaggio’s career strikeout and homerun totals.

Most of us on this blog never saw him play, but
we can look at those numbers and be confident
when we say he was great.

I went to the opening game in Marlins history
for only one reason.

Joe Dimaggio was scheduled to throw out the first ball.

I wanted to be able to say that I saw Joe Dimaggio
throw a baseball. Even at age 78.

Mission Accomplished.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  Jason Z

Going into his last season, 1951, DiMaggio actually had more HRs than Ks, 349-333.

PP
PP
8 years ago
Reply to  Jason Z

I know how passe triple crown stats are, but my favorite for DiMaggio is 1537 RBIs in 13 season (930 in 7 seasons before the war, through age 27).

Jason Z
8 years ago

I would like to hear from the six who didn’t vote
for the Sultan of Swat.

Seriously, do HOF voters lurk amongst us?

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago

Jason Z,

See my #72. And don’t expect me to apologize.

Jason Z
8 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

At least you gave a coherent reason that I can appreciate. Don’t even think about apologizing. You have many many mulligans. I just checked the vote totals. In honor of March Madness, here are my last four out…(those with zero votes presently). 1. Bill Dickey. The argument has been made here that Dickey was better than Berra. When Berra first came up he struggled. Dickey taught him well. 2. Waite Hoyt. He led the staff during the first great Yankee dynasty in the twenties. 3. Lefty Gomez. Helped to Anchor the staff during the four in a row of the… Read more »

Scott
Scott
8 years ago

My Mount Rushmore would include Gehrig (greatest Yankee of all-time), Ruth (greatest baseball player of all-time), DiMaggio (surprisingly overlooked which makes one imagine what his numbers would have been had it not been for the war) and Berra (10 World Series as a player and quite a personality to boot). You also can’t go wrong with choosing Mantle who came very close to making my Mount Rushmore (have tremendous respect for the guy seeing as how I have an autographed picture from him on my wall). Jeter, Ford and Rivera come close as far as I’m concerned as well. At… Read more »

mattmaldre
8 years ago

I suppose Derek Jeter is the fifth best Yankee batter of all time. Wow.

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