New York Yankees All-Time 26-Man Rosterby Alex Kielar September 16, 2021 1 comment
The New York Yankees are the most successful franchise of all time and have many Hall of Famers. Although it might seem like it, success didn’t come right away. They were initially formed in 1901 as the Baltimore Orioles, which is no relation to the modern team of that name. It took just two years for that version of the franchise to become defunct, and they were purchased for $18,000 and moved to Manhatten. They would be known as the New York Highlanders from 1903 until 1912, officially becoming the Yankees in 1913. Over that time, the Highlanders never finished higher than second in the American League. The franchise still didn’t find much success until the turn of the decade.
It all started with one player, and his name was George Herman Ruth. You might know him as Babe Ruth, and when the Yankees bought him from the Boston Red Sox in 1920 for $125,000, the franchise took off. They made their first World Series the following year, made it again in 1922, and won their first in 1923, in which Ruth was the MVP of the Series. That was the year that they moved to their new stadium, Yankee Stadium, known famously as “The House That Ruth Built”. Since then, they have won 26 more World Series and 37 more American League Pennants. With as many successful teams and top-level players they have had, it will be tough not to leave anyone off of this all-time roster. Nevertheless, let’s jump into it.
Make sure to check out all of our other All-Time Rosters.
Yogi Berra, C
The terrific backstop was one of the centerpieces for ten of the Yankees championships after being signed by the Yankees in 1943. His ten rings are a record for any athlete in the four major United States professional sports. Berra consistently put up terrific numbers over his 19-year career, all while also putting his career on hold after signing with the Yankees to join the Navy and serve in World War II.
Upon his retirement, the St. Louis native held records for plate appearances (8,359), hits (2,150), home runs (358), runs (1,175), and runs batted in (1,430) for a catcher. His 1,430 RBI are still the most all-time for a catcher. His 48.8 JAWS is also ranked sixth all-time among catchers. JAWS is a player’s career WAR (wins above replacement) averaged with their 7-year peak WAR, which was developed by sabermetrician Jay Jaffe. The 1972 Hall of Fame inductee was a three-time MVP, the only catcher to ever win that many, and one of ten players to win three or more. “You can observe a lot by watching” is one of the most famous “Yogisms” and there was certainly a lot to observe with the greatness of Berra.
Lou Gehrig, 1B
Despite only playing 14 full seasons, Gehrig put up some of the most incredible statistics ever. He is one of, if not the best, first basemen of all time. The Iron Horse also never missed a day, famously known for playing in 2,130 consecutive games from June 1, 1925, to April 30, 1939. No one thought that record would be broken until Cal Ripken, Jr. came along. In 13 of the 14 seasons, Gehrig recorded over 100 RBI and 100 runs scored. He took home the MVP award in 1927 as a member of the Murderer’s Row squad. In that season, he led the league in doubles (52), RBI (173), and total bases (447). He set the AL single-season record for RBI in 1931 with 185, which still stands today. Gehrig also had incredible World Series contributions, with a .361 batting average, 10 home runs, and 35 RBI in 34 games.
Gehrig won the Triple Crown in 1934 when he hit .363, smacked 49 homers, and drove in 166 RBI. The first All-Star Game occurred in 1933 and he was the first baseman for the first seven. He retired just before the last one in 1939, after coming with the illness that is now named after him, ALS. Gehrig leads all first basemen in WAR (113.7), JAWS (90.7), slugging (.632), and OPS (1.080).
Willie Randolph, 2B
This is one of the not-so-obvious ones. There isn’t a second baseman in Yankees’ history that was out of this world like the previous two. Maybe that could be said if Robinson Cano had stayed with the Yankees and stayed off the steroids. But we’ll leave the “What If‘s” to Marvel. Despite not having the same prowess as some of the others in the starting lineup, Randolph was a key clog to the Yankees lineup in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. The Yankees traded for Randolph along with Dock Ellis and Ken Brett from the Pirates in 1975. “Little Willie” never hit for power, but he had a knack for putting the ball in play and getting on base, as his career on-base percentage was .373. Plus, he never struck out more than 53 times in a season and was a great defender.
Randolph had an incredible rookie year in 1976, recording a 103 OPS+, stealing 37 bases, and having a 5.0 bWAR. He ranks third with 115 total zone runs at second base and his 1,243 walks rank fourth at the position. The six-time All-Star was way overlooked for Hall of Fame consideration, as he received just 1.1 percent of votes his first year on the ballot in 1998. His 51.1 JAWS ranks higher than ten Hall of Fame second basemen, including Joe Gordon, and his 65.9 career WAR is higher than Craig Biggio‘s 65.4.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
The Yankees traded for the drama-riddled slugger in the 2004 offseason from the Texas Rangers. He was a shortstop at the time, but because of Derek Jeter manning that position, he moved to third. Rodriguez was coming off an MVP season in 2003 and continued to put up tremendous numbers for the Bombers. His 2005 season in the Bronx was incredible as he took home the AL MVP. He played in all 162 games while leading the league in runs (124), home runs (48), slugging (.610), OPS (1.031), and OPS+ (173). The former first overall pick would win one more MVP with the Yankees in 2007, in which he would hit a massive 54 homers and record a 176 OPS+.
Rodriguez didn’t have much success in the postseason, but in 2009 he was a big factor for the Yankees run at number 27. He came up clutch in big spots and went 14-for-32 (.437) with five bombs and 12 RBI. This included game-tying homers in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS and in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the ALCS. Towards the end of his career, Rodriguez had his legacy tarnished by steroid use and his “drama queen” personality, but he was a terrific player at his best. Because of the steroids and the way he fell off at the end, it will be difficult to make the Hall of Fame. But he will have a case, especially if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can make it in their last year on the ballot.
Derek Jeter, SS
The newly-inducted Hall-of-Famer was a true Yankee for all 20 seasons he spent in the Bronx. Drafted out of high school in 1992, Jeter quickly made his mark. In his first season as the shortstop in the Boogie Down in 1996, he took home Rookie of the Year honors. He hit .314/.370/.430 with 10 home runs, 78 RBI, 104 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases. There were so many iconic moments in the Kalamazoo, Michigan native’s career, none bigger than his clutchness in big moments. Jeter was a centerpiece for five championship teams, and after all the success from 1996 to 2002, the Yankees named him their 11th captain in franchise history in 2003.
One of the most clutch hitters of all time, The Captain finished his career with a .310 batting average and the most hits in franchise history, 3,465. The moment was never too big for the 2000 World Series MVP, as Jeter’s career was seemingly out of a Hollywood movie. From the Mr. November home run to the 3,000th hit home run, and the walk-off hit in his last game. “Derek Jeter, where fantasy becomes reality”, from the words of Michael Kay. “The Jump Throw, “The Dive”, “The Flip”. His defense is often overlooked, but those were some of the iconic defensive plays of his career,
Mickey Mantle, LF
Despite being a center fielder, Mantle moves to a secondary position to make room for other legends. The Mick was an absolute stud at the plate and it was only injuries that slowed him down. He played his whole career with the Yankees, in which he was an All-Star for all 18 seasons. Even though it was 18 years, he made 20 All-Star teams, as MLB had two All-Star Games from 1959 to 1962.
Mantle was right in the middle of seven AL pennants and five World Series titles during his first eight seasons. He won the AL Triple Crown in 1956 with a .353 average, 52 home runs, and 130 RBI, and won three MVPs including two straight in 1956 and 1957. The slugger also finished in the top five of MVP voting six other times. His 87.4 JAWS is ranked ninth for outfielders all time. Mantle was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.
Joe DiMaggio, CF
Signed by the Yankees in 1934, DiMaggio made his major league debut just two years later in 1936. The Yankees hadn’t been to the World Series since 1932. But they would go on to win the next four and then again in 1941. The Yankee Clipper was a big part of that, winning MVPs in 1939 and 1941. He was an All-Star all 13 years of his career.
Even after serving in the military from 1943 to 1945, Joltin’ Joe was one of the greatest hitters of all time. He won a third MVP in 1947 and finished top five in voting six times. DiMaggio is famously known for his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, which still stands today. As far as records that will never be broken go, that is at or towards the top of the list. The Yankees won four more World Series in his tenure. DiMaggio was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955.
Babe Ruth, RF
The Sultan of Swat, the King of Crash, the Collasous of Clout, the Great Bambino. Whatever you want to call him, he was and is the greatest Yankee of all time. Ruth led the league a massive 17 times in WAR and has a career 183.1 WAR and 124 JAWS. Over his 22 year career, 15 of them were with the Yankees. He won one MVP in 1923 and helped them win their first four World Series. Among all-time ranks, the Babe is first in slugging (.690), third in homers (714), second in RBI (2,213), second in on-base percentage (.474), first in OPS (1.164), first in OPS+ (206), and third in walks (2,062). Ruth was a Hall of Fame inductee as one of the first five inaugural members in 1936.
Reggie Jackson, DH
The man who is known by the mantra Mr. October has to be in the starting lineup. The Yankees signed him to a five-year, $3.5 million contract in the 1977 offseason. His first year with the team was a memorable one, as he was the 1977 World Series MVP after he hit .450 with five homers. Game 6 of that series was when he earned the nickname Mr. October by hitting three homers on three pitches. In his five seasons with the Yankees, Jackson slashed .281/.371/.526 with a 148 OPS+, 144 homers, and 461 RBI. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Whitey Ford, LHP
The Chairman of the Board was signed by the Yankees before the 1947 season and he made an immediate impact. In 20 games his rookie year in 1950, Ford went 9-1 with a 2.81 ERA and 59 strikeouts, while finishing second for Rookie of the Year. The southpaw was a workhorse in big games. He is the World Series record holder for games won (10), innings pitched (146), strikeouts (94), and most consecutive scoreless innings (33). He went 18-6 in 1953 and helped the Yankees to a record fifth straight World Series victory. In 1961, Ford went crazy, going 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA, 3.14 FIP, and 209 strikeouts over 283 innings. That performance earned him the AL Cy Young award to go with his 10 All-Star appearances in his career. Ford was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.
Andy Pettitte, LHP
Over three separate stints with the Yankees, Pettitte was remarkably consistent. As a member of the Core Four in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was a pitcher that would go out and give you his best every fifth day, especially in the postseason. The lefty was drafted by the Yankees in 1990 and he would make his debut in 1995. In 44 appearances in the postseason, Pettitte had a record of 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA and 183 strikeouts over 276 2/3 innings.
He never won a Cy Young and didn’t amass the 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts plateau, which hurts his Hall of Fame candidacy. But his playoff wins (19), innings (276 2/3), and starts (44) rank first in history. At age 37, he went 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA in the 2009 postseason and won at least two postseason starts in the 1996 and 1998-2000 championship seasons. He has started to earn more votes, but he earned just 13.7 percent of votes in 2021, his third year on the ballot.
Ron Guidry, LHP
Louisianna Lightning was another terrific left-hander for the Yankees. Guidry was drafted in the third round of the 1971 MLB Draft, and he made his debut in 1975. Over his 14 seasons with the Yankees, 1978 was his best one when he took home his only Cy Young award. In 35 starts, he led the league in wins (25), ERA (1.74), shutouts (9), ERA+ (208), FIP (2.19), and WHIP (0.946). One of the more impressive stats over Gator’s career was that he had 95 complete games, something that is very rare these days. The most he had in a season was 21 in 1983. In contrast, CC Sabathia had 38 complete games over his 19-year career.
Roger Clemens, RHP
The Yankees brought Clemens over in 1999 when they made a blockbuster trade for the right-hander at the beginning of spring training. His best seasons didn’t come in pinstripes, but he did win his only two rings in the Bronx. Clemens was dominant in the postseason. His 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball in Game 4 of the 1999 World Series finished off a sweep of the San Diego Padres. In 2000, he pitched 8 innings while allowing no runs and just two hits in Game 2 of the Subway Series.
The seven-time Cy Young award winner and one-time MVP won one of his Cy Youngs in 2001 in New York. His final year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame is 2022, and if it wasn’t for steroid use, he would’ve been a shoo-in. But even so, a pitcher of his dominance belongs in the Hall of Fame no matter what. For a more in-depth look at the Hall of Fame case for Clemens, check out the article here.
Red Ruffing, RHP
Charles Herbert “Red” Ruffing. Another player that came over to the Yankees from the Red Sox, Ruffing put up consistent numbers on the mound. He helped the Yankees win six World Series while being the winner in seven of nine starts in the World Series. The right-hander won at least 20 games in each year from 1936-39 and put up a 2.63 ERA and 67 strikeouts to 27 walks in the championship years. Ruffing went into the Hall of Fame in 1967.
Mariano Rivera, RHP (Closer)
The greatest closer of all time. Only unanimous Hall of Famer (2019). 0.70 postseason ERA along with 19 percent of inherited runners scoring and a 0.759 WHIP in the postseason. Enough said.
Goose Gossage, RHP
If it weren’t for Rivera, this man would be the closer. He was outstanding for the Yankees for his seven years there, signing with them prior to the 1977 season. Gossage recorded 151 saves in pinstripes and held a 2.14 ERA, along with a 2.77 strikeout to walk rate over 533 innings. He was a Hall of Fame inductee in 2008.
Sparky Lyle, LHP
Another great closer to have in your bullpen, Lyle also had seven seasons with the Yankees. He was traded to the Yankees before the 1972 season and made an instant impact. In that season, the southpaw set a career-high with 35 saves and had a 1.72 ERA. He pulled off a rare feat by winning the Cy Young as a reliever in 1977, as he had a league-leading 23 saves and a 2.26 ERA. Lyle was never inducted into the Hall of Fame, as he fell off the ballot in 1991.
Dave Righetti, LHP
After transitioning to a bullpen role after being a starter to begin his career, Righetti was dominant. In 11 seasons with the Yankees, the lefty held a 3.11 ERA while striking out 940 batters.
Johnny Murphy, RHP
Murphy made his debut in 1932 and it wasn’t until a few years later that he was a top reliever. He “saved” games before the save was even an official statistic, and he led the AL four times in five times in that category. He recorded 19 saves in 1939 which was the second-highest total in baseball history. Murphy made the All-Star team three consecutive years from 1937 to 1939. The Fireman put up postseason numbers of a 2-0 record, 1.10 ERA, and four saves in eight games. He allowed no runs in four World Series.
Dellin Betances, RHP
An under-the-radar pick on this list, Betances was very dominant with the Yankees at his best. He reached triple digits with his fastball and had a nasty slider-curveball combination. The homegrown Yankee recorded 36 saves and a 2.36 ERA in 358 games in his eight years with them. He was a four-time All-Star and signed with the New York Mets following the 2019 season.
Dave Winfield, OF/DH
A Hall of Fame inductee in 2001, Winfield signed with the Yankees after the 1980 season. He recorded six 100-RBI seasons and made eight All-Star Games of the 11 in his career.
Bill Dickey, C
Of course, you need to have a backup catcher. What better one to have than Dickey, who along with Berra has his number eight jersey retired by the Yankees.
Don Mattingly, 1B
The Captain is a great bat off the bench, as he had a tremendous peak from 1984-89. Over that time, he won the MVP in 1985 by hitting .324 with 35 homers and a league-leading 145 RBI. In 1986, he led the majors in hits (238), doubles (53), slugging (.573), and OPS (.967). He was second for MVP behind Roger Clemens. Over his six peak years, he hit .327 and drove in 684 runs.
Graig Nettles, 3B
One of the greatest defensive third basemen ever, Nettles is a great backup to Rodriguez. He led the AL in assists by a third baseman four times and double plays turned three times. Nettles was a member of two championship teams and was the 1981 ALCS MVP after hitting .500 with a 1.488 OPS and driving in nine RBI.
Tony Lazzeri, 2B/3B/SS
Lazzeri is the team’s utility man who was in the middle of five World Series championships while playing second, short, and third.
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