New York Yankees: The Greatest Teams of All-Time
Growing up, everyone had a favorite baseball team to root for. It might come as no surprise that mine was the New York Yankees.
Over baseball's illustrious history, some of the greatest teams and moments have come from the Yankees organization.
I wasn't around to witness Ruth's Called Shot, Larsen's Perfect Game or Maris' 61st home run. But since I can only wonder what it would have been like if I was, let's take a look back at the 10 greatest Yankee teams of all-time.
The 1938 Yankees
With 35-year-old Lou Gehrig and 23-year-old Joe DiMaggio, the Yankees finished the regular season with a 99-53 record, the best in the American League, winning their 10th American League Pennant.
The Yankees would sweep the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, becoming the first team to win three consecutive World Series championships.
Pitcher Red Ruffing led the AL with 21 wins, Johnny Murphy had a league leading 21 saves, Frank Crosetti was the league leader in stolen bases with 27, and manager Joe McCarthy was named the AL manager of the year.
Although the 1938 season ended with a World Series title, this was a bittersweet year for the Yankees and their fans, as Lou Gehrig would begin to say his goodbyes.
The 1938 All-Star game marked the last All-Star Game appearance for the great Gehrig, who finished the season with a .295 batting average, 114 RBIs and 29 home runs, as Gehrig would pass away three years later.
1938 saw a changing of the guard as the "Iron Horse" who was preparing for one of the most memorable speeches of all-time, given a year later, would be passing the torch to a young DiMaggio, who was beginning his Hall of Fame career.
The '38 Yankees didn't have the stars similar to the '27 or '61 Yankees, but this team exemplified what it meant to be a World Series champion.
The 1996 Yankees
The 1996 Yankees are certainly not the greatest team on this list, but along with the Rookie of the Year, Derek Jeter, this team was the start of the Yankees dynasty of the late 90s.
After spending five years in St. Louis, a "no-name" manager was hired to replace Buck Showalter after the Yankees 1995 ALDS meltdown against the Seattle Mariners.
In his first year at the helm, Joe Torre finally got his championship ring after 32 long years in baseball.
Leading the Yankees in hits was a 21-year-old kid from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who was beginning his Hall of Fame career.
Let's all "Thank The Good Lord," Jeter decided to stick around for a while.
And a pitcher not named Mariano Rivera was on the mound to close out the 1996 World Series.
At the time, MO was only a set up man.
But on a team where Mariano Duncan was the team leader with a .340 batting average, Bernie Williams had 29 home runs, Tino Martinez's 117 team high RBIs, along with Andy Pettitte's 21 wins, Wetteland's 43 saves and Rivera's 2.09 ERA, the Yankees would go onto win the AL East by finishing the regular season with a record of 92-70
But these Yankees were not the "Evil Empire" of today.
Although they were disliked, they weren't hated for winning because they had not won a World Series title since 1978.
The '96 Yankees were considered more humble than arrogant, and on a team that consisted of few All-Star caliber players, they knew how to win.
When the Yankees captured their 23rd World Series championship, New Yorkers and Yankee fans alike, knew this was the start of something special.
I'm just thankful I was able to witness it.
You should be too.
The 1937 Yankees
Coming off his rookie year where Joe DiMaggio batted .323 with 29 homers and 125 RBI, DiMaggio's 1937 season was even more impressive.
DiMaggio had plenty of help from his fellow teammates Lou Gehrig and Bill Dickey, while the trio combined to hit 112 of the team's 174 home runs and 459 runs batted in between them.
The pitching staff, led by 21 game winner Lefty Gomez, led the AL in ERA, shutouts and complete games.
During the season, DiMaggio had five multi-homer games to help the Yankees win the AL pennant by 13 games over the Detroit Tigers.
DiMaggio set career highs in home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage, total bases and OPS. He also only struck out 37 times in 621 at-bats on the season.
How DiMaggio finished second behind Detroit Tigers second baseman Charlie Gehringer for MVP honors remains a mystery, but DiMaggio won where it mattered most—in the standings.
In the World Series, the Yankees faced the New York Giants for the second year in a row.
Led by DiMaggio, who batted .273 with a home run and four RBI during the World Series, the Yankees won the '37 series 4-1, capturing their sixth World Series title.
DiMaggio will always be remembered for one of the most famous records in all of sports when he got a hit in 56 consecutive games in a row in 1941, but his 1937 season will always be remembered as the greatest season of his Hall of Fame career.
The 1953 Yankees
The 1953 Yankees made baseball history by becoming the first team to win an unprecedented fifth consecutive World Series title after defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Fall Classic.
Although the team consisted of Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Billy Martin and Phil Rizzuto, the statistics showed this was far from the greatest group of players.
After spending two years in the army, Ford rejoined the Yankees in 1953, and lead the team with 18 wins, a mark topped by four other pitchers. Unknown pitcher, Ed Lopat, led all Yankee pitchers with a 2.42 ERA and an .800 winning percentage.
At the plate, no Yankee ranked among the top five in batting average.
Yogi Berra led the team with 108 RBIs, tied for fourth in the league, and Mantle ranked third in runs scored.
These Yankees defined the word team, as this was purely a team championship.
The 1953 Bronx Bombers finished with a record of 99-52 and captured the American League pennant, and for the fourth time in seven years, the Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series.
Although the Dodgers won a franchise record 105 games, they stood no match for the Yankees.
And just as the Yankees were victorious in their previous season, they came through with a six game triumph over the Dodgers to capture the 1953 World Series championship.
Winning five consecutive World Series was a remarkable accomplishment, that no team might ever accomplish that again.
The 1932 Yankees
The 1932 season marked the 30th anniversary of this storied franchise.
The Yankees would finish the regular season with a record of 107-47, winning their seventh AL pennant.
Manager Joe McCarthy brought the Yankees back to the top of the American League, and a record nine future Hall of Famers donned the Pinstripes during the '32 season: Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock, Red Ruffing, Joe Sewell, and Babe Ruth.
Gehrig and Ruth finished in the top 10 in all Triple Crown categories combining for 74 home runs, 288 RBIs, and finished the season with a batting average of .349, and .341, respectively.
The Yankees would go onto sweep the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, bringing the team's streak of consecutive World Series game wins to 12.
That year, Gehrig also became the first player in the 20th century to hit four home runs in one game, and in the same game, Lazerri had a natural cycle, that was completed with a grand slam homerun.
Although the Yankees won the World Series title, the season will always be remembered for the famous Babe Ruth "Called Shot" in game three of the World Series at Wrigley Field.
We'll never know if Ruth was really calling his shot, or to what exactly his finger was pointing at. But as the story goes, Ruth pointed to the center field bleachers during his at-bat, calling his shot.
And on the next pitch, Ruth belted a home run to center field.
Ruth was a legend, and the 1932 Yankees were certainly a legendary team, whose season ended with a World Series championship.
The 2009 Yankees
The 2009 Yankees was one of the greatest teams ever assembled: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.
The names go on and on.
The revamped Yankees, who bolstered their team by signing the three biggest free agents on the market, stumbled out of the game to a 12-10 record during the first month of the 2009 season.
But after the All-Star break when the second half of the season rolled around, the Yankees won eight in a row, and when the calendar turned to August, they relinquished first place in the AL East.
They would finish the season leading the AL in runs scored (915), hits (1604), home runs (244), total bases (2,703), runs batted in (881), on-base percentage (.362) and slugging percentage (.478).
The Yankees would take their loaded offense into the playoffs, leaving no doubt who the best team in baseball was.
Led by Rodriguez's post-season for the ages (six homeruns, 18 RBI, .365 avg), and Hideki Matsui's memorable World Series performance ( three homeruns, 8 RBI, .615 avg) in their first year at the new Yankee Stadium, the Yankees captured their 27th World Series championship.
The icing on the cake to a magical season in the Bronx.
The 1961 Yankees
The 1961 season might be remembered for the memorable home run duel between the M&M Boys, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, but this Yankees team was also one of the greatest in baseball history.
The Yankees hit a major league record 240 home runs, which stood until the Baltimore Orioles broke the record in 1996.
The '61 team saw the 1961 AL MVP, Maris, break Babe Ruth’s home run record by belting his 61st home run into the right field stands on the last game of the season, and although Mantle missed most of September with injuries, he finished with a .328 batting average, 54 home runs and 128 RBI on the year.
Led by Maris and Mantle, the 1961 Yankees compiled a win/loss record of 109-53, and captured their 26th American League Pennant.
Providing the offense for the Yankees was Elston Howard's .348 batting average, Bobby Richardson's 178 hits, the veteran leadership of Yogi Berra, Mantle and Maris, but on the mound, the "Chairman of the Board" was the chairman of the pitching staff winning 25 games and the Cy Young Award.
Yankees manager Ralph Houk became the third first-year manager to win a World Series championship. Whitey Ford broke Babe Ruth's record of 292 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings with 32 and Richardson batted .391, and set a record for most hits in a five-game World Series with nine.
Arguably the greatest Yankees team of all-time defeated the Cincinnati Reds in five games winning their 19th world series championship, and captured their first World Series title since 1958—a memorable way to end one of the most memorable seasons in Yankees history.
The 1927 Yankees
Murderer's Row, the nickname given to the 1927 Yankees lineup, had one of the most prolific offenses in baseball history.
Outscoring their opponents by almost 400 runs, hitting 103 triples and belting 158 home runs, the Row finished the season with the highest team batting average at .307, the highest slugging percentage at .489 and the most stolen bases at 90 in the AL.
The Yankees finished the season with a record of 110-44, winning another AL Pennant, and for the first time in MLB history, while going toe-to-toe with Lou Gehrig for the home run title, Babe Ruth became the first player to hit 60 homeruns in a season.
Gehrig would finish the season with 47 home runs and 175 RBI, but other Hall of Famers had career years as well.
Leadoff man Earl Combs hit .356 with 231 hits and 137 runs scored. The number five hitter in the lineup Bob Meusel hit .337 with 109 RBI, and following Meusel in the order was Tony Lazzeri—who hit .309 with 102 RBI.
With a pitching staff consisting of two Hall of Famers, Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock, and four-time 20 game winner, and 1922 AL strikeout leader Urban Shocker, the Yankees dominated on the mound as well, pitching 82 complete games and 11 shutouts, recording 431 strikeouts and a ERA of 3.20, which ranked 1st in the American League.
After losing the 1926 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series would've been the perfect way to cap off an incredible season.
For those of you who don't know the result of the 1927 World Series: Mission accomplished.
The 2010 Yankees
Before I announce the greatest Yankees team of all time, the journey of the 2010 Yankees is still unfolding.
When the Yankees capture their 28th World Series championship, the debating will begin where this team ranks amongst the greatest Yankee teams of all-time?
I guess we'll have to wait and find out.
The 1998 Yankees
Not only did 1998 mark the crowning of a new home run king(*), but a Yankees dynasty was born.
The '98 Yankees did not have a single superstar at the time.
Mariano Rivera was still transforming into "MO," and Derek Jeter wasn't El Capitan, just yet.
No Yankee player would hit more than 28 home runs (Tino Martinez), but the Yankees still managed to hit 207 home runs, ranking 4th in the American League.
Bernie Williams pitched in with 26 homers, and Paul O’Neill had the best year of his career, hitting .317 with 20 home runs, 116 RBI and 15 stolen bases.
The '98 lineup consisted of one future Hall of Famer (Jeter), while the Yankees' pitching staff that was comprised of David Cone, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Orlando Hernandez, and Hideki Irabu combined for a 79-35 record during the regular season.
Wells did his part by finishing the season with a 18-4 record, a 3.49 ERA, pitching 8 complete games, 214.1 IP, a 1.045 WHIP and threw the fifteenth perfect game in baseball history. And of course, the bullpen was anchored by Mariano Rivera, who was lights out, converting 36 saves with a 1.91 ERA during the regular season.
During the postseason, the Yankees proved why they ranked number one in the AL in ERA after 162 games played.
In the Divisional Series against the Texas Rangers the Yankees surrendered only one run and 13 hits, and although they faced some adversity in the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees advanced to the World Series.
Looking as if the Yankees were going to fall in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series to the San Diego Padres, trailing 5-2 in the seventh inning, Chuck Knoblauch hit a three run home run tying the game at 5. Then Tino Martinez hit a grand slam into the right field stands, launching the Yankees to a come from behind win, en route to a 4-0 sweep of the Padres.
The Yankees finished the postseason with a record of 11-2, giving the Yankees a total of 125 wins for the season, an MLB record that still stands today.
Of all the greatest teams that have played throughout the Yankees illustrious history, I consider this one to be the greatest of them all.