Where Does Derek Jeter Rank in the 10 Greatest Yankees of All-Time?
The Yankees have had some of the greatest players in Major League Baseball history. This list ranks the top 10 of those legends who wore the pinstripes very proudly during their stay in the Bronx.
To rank the players I used their individual stats while with the Yankees and their success in the postseason. I also took into consideration military service and career-threatening injuries.
10. Bernie Williams
Bernie Williams was a key member to the recent dynasty years, winning four championships with the Yankees.
Bernie played his entire 16-season career in pinstripes (1991-2006), becoming one of the most beloved and popular players in recent Yankee history. It was a fan favorite to hear Disco Inferno play when Bernie came to the plate, usually chanting Bern Baby Bern.
Williams hit .297 over his career with 287 home runs and 1,257 RBI, he also scored 1,366 runs and had 2,336 hits. His 449 doubles ranks third on the Yankees all-time leader board. He appeared in five straight All-Star games and won four Gold Glove awards for his stellar play in the outfield.
His postseason numbers were what set Bernie apart from the others. He hit .275 in the playoffs while belting 22 home runs (second most all-time in postseason history) and driving in 80 RBI in over 12 appearances in October baseball.
Although Williams probably won't get into the Hall of Fame, he will always live on in Yankee lore as a playoff hero and certainly deserves to have his No. 51 join the other retired numbers of past Yankee legends.
9. Don Mattingly
The slick fielding 1B and 1985 MVP was one of the most, if not the most popular players in Yankee history.
Like many of the players on this list, Mattingly played his entire career with the Yankees (1982-1995) and was the captain of the team from 1991 through the end of his career in 1995.
He was clearly the Derek Jeter of his generation, serving as a leader on and off the field, earning him the nickname "Donnie Baseball."
As mentioned before, Mattingly won the '85 MVP and was named to six straight All-Star games. He also won three straight Silver Slugger awards and collected nine Gold Gloves at first base over his career.
Despite his individual success, the team did not endure the same success. In fact the 1980s became the first decade the Yankees did not win a World Series title since they became the Yankees.
Mattingly would only see the playoffs one time in his career, coming in 1995, but was ousted by the Mariners in the Divisional Round, despite him hitting .417 with six RBI, including a memorable go-ahead home run in Game Two.
Mattingly would retire in '95 due to recurring back problems, unfortunately missing out on a World Series appearance at both ends of his career, the Yankees would go on to win it all in '96, their first title since '78 and first appearance since '81.
Don's No. 23 has since been retired by the Yankees, as his glory days were one of the few bright spots for the Yanks in the '80s.
8. Mariano Rivera
Arguably the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera comes in at no. 8 on this list.
One day God looked down and saw a young man named Mariano Rivera throwing a bullpen session and said, "I give you the cutter."
Whether or not that really happened doesn't matter. Because Mariano has been lights out ever since. And has left his mark on Yankee history, both in the regular season and postseason.
Pitching his entire career in the Bronx, Mariano has tallied up 534 career saves, good for second all-time and most in AL history. To go with those 534 saves he has a remarkable 2.25 ERA and 1,017 Ks. Also being nominated to 10 All-Star games, now entering his 16th big league season.
Unfortunately there is no award for best relief pitcher of the season, at least no one that is equivalent to the Cy Young or MVP awards. But if there were such an award, it would be no surprise if it was named the Mariano Rivera Award, in honor of his dominance.
Pitching for the Yankees his entire career has given 'Mo plenty of opportunities to build on his almost mythical playoff career. Appearing in 14 post seasons, Mo has an unheard of ERA at 0.74 to go with his record 39 saves.
The one blemish, being his 2001 meltdown against Arizona. But other than that he has had no problem slicing through opposing hitters with his dreaded cutter when it counts the most.
Nearly 40, Mo is still going strong for the Yanks, but Yankee fans know that the day he retires will be the begining of the feared "life after Mariano."
7. Whitey Ford
The only pitcher that could beat out Mariano Rivera would be the one, and only, Whitey Ford.
After going 9-1 in his debut season for the Yankees in 1950, Ford served in the United States Army during the Korean War for two years. Upon his return in 1953 he went 18-6 and established himself as the ace of the staff that included Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, and Eddie Lopat. They soon became known as the "Big Four."
Whitey was a very reliable and consistent pitcher over his 16 big league seasons, winning 10 or more games 13 years in a row. He also won the 1961 AL Cy Young Award for his 25-4 record and 3.21 ERA that year.
Upon his retirement in 1967 after back-to-back seasons of diminishing success, Ford held the record for most wins in Yankee history with 236 and strikeouts with 1,956. He also had an extremely high winning percentage of .690 and a great ERA of 2.75.
He helped the Yankees to six World Series titles in his career, going 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 11 World Series appearances.
Fondly referred to as the "Chairman of the Board," he is considered by many to be the greatest pitcher in Yankee history. Now at age 81, Whitey can still be seen in Spring Training and the annual Old Timer's game at Yankee Stadium, always getting a rousing cheer from the crowd wherever he is seen.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974 and has his No. 16 retired by the Yankees, honoring the greatest starting pitcher in Yankee history.
6. Yogi Berra
No single player in baseball history has more World Series rings than Yogi Berra.
Like most on this list, Yogi was a fan favorite and was one of the most beloved players in New York sports history. He remains an icon to Yankee fans everywhere and is always greeted with a great deal of respect still today.
Yogi was one of the greatest catchers of all time, he hit 358 home runs and knocked in 1,430 runs. He won three MVP awards, including back-to-back in 1954 and 1955.
He was very consistent over his career; he hit 10 or more home runs in 16 consecutive years, leading to 15 straight All-Star Games over his storied career.
Having played 18 seasons with the Yankees (his final year as a Met) Yogi got plenty of cracks at the World Series, 14 to be exact, winning 10 of them to become the most decorated champion in Major League Baseball history.
Yogi was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, and had his legendary No. 8 retired by the Yankees.
5. Mickey Mantle
"It was all I lived for, to play baseball." - Mickey Mantle
Indeed, Mickey was all about baseball in his life. He was a home run machine throughout the '50s and '60s, feared by opposing pitcher, but loved by all Yankee fans.
The Mick was the end of a line of legendary Yankee heroes, from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, through Joe DiMaggio, and to the end of his career. No one was there to pick up where Mantle left off in the late '60s and the Yankees went into a World Series drought, not winning one from 1962 till 1977.
But when the Mick was on the field he was a monster; he belted 536 home runs with 1,509 RBI, while scoring 1,677 runs. And unlike a lot of sluggers today, Mantle hit for a high batting average as well; he retired with a .298 average and a .428 OBP.
Just to give you a comparison, the closest player in recent memory to compare Mantle to is probably Frank Thomas or Jim Thome, who both exhibit the batting characteristics of the Mick.
Mantle won three MVP Awards and was an All-Star every year except for two seasons, 1951 and 1966.
Mickey led the Yankees to seven world championships over his 18 big league seasons, all of them in pinstripes. He hit 18 home runs and had 40 RBI in 12 World Series appearances.
He was finally forced into retirement in 1968 by chronic knee issues that curtailed his career. He became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, and needless to say, has his No. 7 retired by the Yankees.
4. Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter has become the Joe DiMaggio of his generation, and will go down in history as one of the greatest sports icons of all time.
Many consider Jeter to be the next Mr. 4,000 and become the all-time hits leader in baseball, yet Jeter remains one of the most humble players in the game today, always giving credit for a win to the team.
He is a natural born leader on the field, seeming like he knows what to do on every play. He was named the 11th captain of the Yankees in June of 2003, making him the first since Don Mattingly retired in 1995.
Jeter has been a very consistent player throughout his storied career, as evident by his .317 career batting average and his 10 All-Star games over his 16 big league seasons. He has also won four Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger awards at short stop for the Yankees.
Hi career has been defined by several clutch plays, such the famous flip to Jorge Posada against Oakland in the 2001 ALDS, and his running catch on a Trot Nixon pop up down the left field line which caused him to dive into the stands.
Jeter is also noted for his clutch hitting in postseason play, thus earning him the name Mr. November.
He holds several franchise records for the Yankees, which include most hits and plate appearances, and is nearing the most games played and stolen bases.
Derek Jeter will one day find himself in Cooperstown like so many others on this list, and will have his legendary number retired as well.
3. Joe Dimaggio
Joe D. was one of the most well respected players in the game of baseball, as he served as the face of the franchise throughout his career.
An icon to almost every Yankee fan in the 1940s, Joltin' Joe was the ultimate Yankee. He was one of the greatest hitters the Yanks have ever had as well.
A three-time MVP, DiMaggio hit .325 with 361 home runs and 1,537 RBI. Unfortunately Joe's career was split in half by WWII, which he served in for three years, 1943-45. Thus missing out on what would have been considered his prime years during a baseball career.
Obviously his stats would be much greater had he played those three years in the middle of his career, but it is certainly understandable why he served his country, which is far more important than baseball. This is why he is No. 3 on this list.
Joe won nine World Series over his 13 seasons in pinstripes, he also was an All-Star in every season of his career. However, his greatest achievement was his legendary 56-game hitting streak, which still stands today and is believed by many to be an unbreakable record.
The Yankee Clipper was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, just four years after his retirement, and his legendary No. 5 has taken its rightful place among the many retired numbers of the Yankees.
2. Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig, a career to be celebrated, and one to be mourned.
Often over shadowed by the monstrous numbers of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig quietly had one of the best careers in baseball history.
The Iron Horse, as he was called, because he hardly ever missed a game, in fact his record of 2,130 consecutive games played stood until 1995 when Cal Ripken Jr. broke it.
Lou hit 493 home runs and drove in 1,995 runs while scoring 1,888 runs himself. He had a .340 career average with 2,721 hits over his 17 seasons in the majors, all of them with the Yankees.
He won two MVP awards and played in seven All-Star games, that might not seem like many, but the All-Star game wasn't around until Gehrig's last seven seasons.
Gehrig was apart of seven World Series, winning six of them. He hit .361 and had 10 home runs with 35 RBI in those seven series.
The most tragic day in Yankee history came on July 4, 1939, when Lou Gehrig announced his retirement in his famous "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" speech. He would die just two years later from ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1941, and his No. 4 was the first number ever retired by the Yankees.
1. Babe Ruth
The Sultan of Swat lives on in Yankee history as the greatest player to ever wear the pinstripes.
Babe Ruth, as you may or may not know, was purchased from the Boston Red Sox for $100,000 in 1920. Thus the origin of the "Curse of the Babe" because Boston would have to wait until 2004 to win their first World Series title without Ruth.
While in Boston, he was a pitcher mostly, and he was successful in doing so. He had a record of 89-46 with a 2.19 ERA in Boston, and though he would only win four games with the Yankees, I'm sure they didn't mind.
Over his 15 seasons in the Bronx, Babe Ruth hit 659 home runs, had 1,971 RBI, scored 1,959 runs, walked 1,852 times, and hit .349. Not too bad for a pitcher.
He played in seven World Series with New York, winning four of them, including the Yankees first in 1923. But his defining moment came in Game Three of the 1932 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Yankees. According to legend, Ruth pointed to the center field bleachers at Wrigley Field and on the next pitch by Charlie Root he hit a home run to center field.
Whether this actually happened or not, it cemented Ruth into World Series lore, and bolstered his already legendary status with the Yankees.
Ruth ended his career with the Boston Braves in 1935, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936 as its inaugural class. His No. 3 was retired by the Yankees as well.