As always, I’ll start this off by saying we hope you guys are staying healthy and safe during these uncertain times. Additionally, we hope you’re staying sane in whatever state of quarantine, shelter-in, work from home, or whatever situation you’re in. It’s a shame, truly, that we don’t have baseball (or any other sport) to distract us.
With no Yankee baseball to distract us in the present–and the future as uncertain as it is–let’s look back to the past with another version of an all-time Yankees team…only this won’t be so all-time.
For the purposes of a team not repeating itself, I’m going to place a few caveats on this one.
- The player has to have been on the Yankees in my life time (1987 and on)
- The player has to have spent five or fewer years with the Yankees (going by Baseball Reference’s designation)
- The player must not currently be on the Yankees
Given those parameters, let’s see who we can come up with.
Catcher: My first thoughts here were Brian McCann and Russell Martin, as I was always fond of those players. But with 99 and 93 OPS+ marks each for their tenure with the Yankees–more than fine for catchers, sure–I was a bit underwhelmed. Thus, the choice falls to someone who’s not necessarily horribly familiar to fans my age: Mike Stanley. In five years with the Yankees–1992-1995 and part of 1997–Stanley raked as a (mostly) catcher, hitting .277/.377/.504/.882 for a 134 OPS+. He’s the clear choice and fits in my caveats perfectly.
First Base: This is probably the toughest spot because in my lifetime, the Yankees had a string of excellent first basemen, from Don Mattingly to Tino Martinez, to Jason Giambi, to Mark Teixeira, all of whom were with the team longer than my caveat allows. So the answer becomes: Nick Johnson! While constantly hurt, Johnson’s healthy times were pretty productive for the Yankees. He hit only .249 with a .414 slugging percentage, but he posted a .378 OBP in his time with the Yankees, tallying 149 walks in 1023 plate appearances.
Second Base: Without Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano to choose from, this one gets rather dicey. Chuck Knoblauch is a name that comes to mind, and he fits, having suited up in pinstripes for just four years. However, his last two years tanked and he had to be moved off the position. Let’s go with early 90’s stalwart Steve Sax, who OPS+’d 102 with the Yankees, and swiped 117 bags.
Third Base: Wade Boggs. Don’t even have to think. In five years with the Yanks, he OBP’d .396 and became an icon (not that he wasn’t one by the time e reached NY. Seriously, I did not appreciate how damn good he was until much later in life) by riding an NYPD horse around the warning track after winning the 1996 World Series.
Shortstop: Didi Gregorius. Hands down. With Derek Jeter taking up so much of this real estate, there’s really no other choice. Three 20 homer seasons, great defense, and a great personality. I’ll miss Didi on the Yankees, but he’d definitely fit right in on this caveat-laden team.
Outfield: Gary Sheffield, Nick Swisher, Bobby Abreu
Will this outfield play good defense? Absolutely not. Will this outfield absolutely freaking rake? Hell yes. Each of these players has a combination of patience and power that has been the cornerstone of winning baseball for the last 25 years and each put up great seasons in the Bronx. The lowest Yankee OBP among them is Abreu’s .364 and Swish and Sheff both had solid power or better with the Bombers.
Starter and Reliever: Hiroki Kuroda and Alfredo Aceves
Kuroda was a stud in his three years with the Yankees, as well as a fan favorite. Al Aceves played whatever bullpen role the Yankees needed him to and did it damn well. They’d make a great tandem for this squad.