Over the course of the next month, LWOSports will be breaking down the top five MLB players in franchise history for all 30 teams. This article will rank the top five New York Yankees players from least to best by who had the biggest impact for the team. You can check out the other team articles here.
Top Five New York Yankees Players in Franchise History
5. Yogi Berra
Yogi Berra was the best catcher in New York Yankees history after making his debut in 1946. Berra played 17 years for the Yankees before playing his last season for the Mets in 1965. Berra was an 18 time all star and won 10 championships as a player which is more than any other player in Major League history. Berra batted .285 and hitting over 350 home runs and batting in more than 1,400 runs. Berra put up those offensive numbers while being a catcher, something you don’t see in today’s baseball. Berra is one of five players to win the American League MVP award three times in his career while the other four include Albert Pujols, Jimmie Fox, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez. Berra was inducted into the hall of fame in 1972 and is widely known as the best catcher to ever play in the Major Leagues.
4. Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle also played his whole career as a New York Yankee from 1951-1968. Mantle was one of the few switch hitters in baseball during his time which was an advantage for him. Mantle is arguably known as the greatest offensive center fielder in baseball history with his on-base percentage and also his stolen base percentage. Mantle was a 20-time all-star, seven-time world series champion, three-time AL MVP, a triple crown winner in 1956, and won one gold glove in his career. Mantle’s number seven was retired by the New York Yankees and his plaque is in Monument Park as well. Mantle was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team as well which is a huge accomplishment in baseball.
3. Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig was another Yankee who played his whole career in New York after making his debut in 1923. Gehrig’s nickname was “The Iron Horse” for his durability on the field. He was a seven-time all-star, two-time AL MVP, six-time champion, and won the triple crown once in 1934. His career averages were outstanding with a .340 battering average, .632 slugging percentage, .447 on base percentage as well as nearly 500 home runs and 2,000 runs batted in. Gehrig was elected into the baseball hall of fame in 1939 as a special election.
Gehrig set multiple major league records including most grand slams in his career and most consecutive games played which have both been broken after 50+ years. Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak ended because he voluntarily took himself out of the lineup due to a disease hampering his play which stunned players and fans around the league which is now referred to as “the Lou Gehrig Disease”. Gehrig had his number four retired by the Yankees becoming the first player to have his uniform number retired. He also made the Major League Baseball All-Century and All-Time teams due to his remarkable play on the field.
2. Joe DiMaggio
Along with the other great Yankees, Joe DiMaggio also played his whole 13-year career in New York. DiMaggio made his major league debut in 1936 and had two different stints in New York. DiMaggio is widely known as the greatest baseball player of all time and has one major league record that may stand in the record books forever with his 56 game hitting streak. DiMaggio was a three-time MVP, 13-time all-star, and also lead the Yankees to 10 AL Pennants and nine World Series Championships in his time with the Yankees. DiMaggio was also a two time American League batting champion, home run leader, and RBI leader. DiMaggio is also known for his marriage and lifelong devotion to Marilyn Monroe who is an icon in history. DiMaggio was inducted into the baseball hall of fame in 1955 on his third ballot which is surprising. DiMaggio’s number five is also retired by the New York Yankees and he is an honoree in Monument Park. Along with Yogi Berra, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle, DiMaggio made the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
1. Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth did not play for the New York Yankees his whole career but the Yankees traded for Ruth in 1920 to acquire him from their rival Boston Red Sox. This trade is known is history as “The Curse of the Bambino” due to what happened in history for the next 80+ years. Ruth is known for his ability to be a dominant pitcher and hitter in baseball history which is rare to see nowadays. Ruth moved to the outfield when he went to New York and has many Major League records including home runs, runs batted in, base on balls, slugging percentage, and on-base plus slugging percentage. Some of his records have since been broken but he remains top five in all of the categories.
Ruth is widely known as the greatest sports hero is American Culture and as to some as the greatest baseball player to ever live. Ruth is a two-time all-star, a seven-time champion, AL MVP, 12 time AL home run leader, six-time AL RBI leader, and in 1916 the ERA leader in the American League. After Ruth was traded to the Yankees, the Red Sox curse would begin and they would go over 80 years without winning a championship. Ruth’s number three would also be retired by the New York Yankees while being an honoree in Monument Park. Along with the other Ruth was also named to the Major League Baseball All-Century and All-Time Team. Ruth was inducted into the baseball hall of fame in 1936 as one of the “first five” inaugural members.
Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter was the face of the New York Yankees as well as Major League Baseball. Jeter was one of the best players in Major League history both on and off the field. Jeter was drafted sixth overall by the New York Yankees in the 1992 draft out of Kalamazoo Central High School. Jeter made his debut for the Yankees in 1995 and became a sensation from the start. Jeter played all 20 years of his career for the New York Yankees and was one of the best shortstops to ever play the game. He is a five-time champion and was a primary contributor to the success of the Yankees in the late 1990s and early 2000s after he was called up. Jeter is the all-time career leader in hits, doubles, games played, stolen bases, times on base, plate appearances, and at-bats for the New York Yankees. His accolades include 14 all-star selections, five gold gloves, five silver sluggers, two Hank Aaron awards, and one Roberto Clemente award. He is also one of 28 players with 3,000 career hits and ranks sixth on the all-time list in hits while being first at the shortstop position. Jeter’s number two was retired by the New York Yankees and he will go down in history as a great on the field and an even better person off the field.
There have been many great players to put on the pinstripes over their franchise history. Some of those players may have only played for less than five years but their impact on and off the field is something that will never be forgotten. It was hard to choose just five for the most storied franchise in sports history but these five set the standard for what it meant to wear the pinstripes. When players come to New York they are held to a high standard on and off the field which is why playing for the Yankees is an honor to those who have played in New York and for those who have also wanted to play for the Yankees. You can check out our other player rankings here.
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