While the Big Red Machine of the 1970s might have been extremely good, it has nothing on the 2010 Yankees.
The Bronx Bombers have put together the best hitting infield of all time, and have done so in an un-Yankees manner. Although the Yankees have earned a reputation for buying their talent, the majority of this currently assembled infield is home grown talent.
Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada all came up through the Yankees farm system, while Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, who round out the five, were signed as free agents.
When it’s all said and done, all five players could end up in the Hall of Fame, although Posada is a long shot.
Statistically speaking, however, this 2010 Yankees infield might produce the best offensive numbers collectively of any group, all time.
And yes, that includes the Big Red Machine.
The Reds’ big five, in its prime, consisted of Johnny Bench (c), Tony Perez (1b), Joe Morgan (2b), Dave Concepción (ss), and Pete Rose (3b). The biggest difference between this group and the current Yankees is that this Reds bunch was collectively good throughout a decade, as opposed to one single year.
Rally beginning in 1972, members of the famed Reds teams began producing some of their best individual seasons. The only thing is, they never had their best seasons at the same time.
This Yankees' crew is different; they’re all having stellar 2010 seasons, including Mark Teixeira. Tex started off last season remarkably slow before turning it around, and finishing with a .292 batting average, 39 home runs, 103 runs scored, 122 RBI and was walked 81 times.
Teixeira, the statistical weak link of this Yankees group, is on pace to turn his dismal start around once more. Over the last month, the switch-hitting slugger has hit .259, with six home runs, 21 runs, 22 RBI and 14 walks.
As for the other Yankees, Posada (in roughly 100 officials at bats), is batting .323 with six homers, 16 runs, and 14 RBI; Cano—who is putting up MVP numbers—is batting .373 with 12 homers, 41 runs, and 43 RBI (not to mention a .632 slugging percentage; Jeter is batting .302 with five homers, 35 runs and 31 RBI; and Rodriguez is batting .300 with eight home runs, 33 runs and 43 RBI (and he’s already been walked 25 times).
The Big Red Machine probably had its best overall output in 1975, when Morgan won his first of back-to-back MVP awards. That season he hit .327, 17, 107 and 94, while stealing 67 bases.
The biggest difference between the individual players on Cincinnati and New York is the Reds were built around average and speed guys, who could also hit the ball out of the park on occasion.
The Yankees, on the other hand, are power hitters, who also hit for high average and can steal a base.
(And before you begin hating on the Evil Empire for the stadium they play in, it should be mentioned that Cincinnati’s power allies—the distance from home plate to the right and left center field fences—were shorter than the ones in the new stadium in the Bronx.)
Clearly, we’re going to have to take a wait-and-see approach to determine if the 2010 Yankees can maintain this statistical success. Cano, like Morgan, may win the MVP as a second basemen, especially if he continues to produce at this rate.
Teixeira and Rodriguez should each hit at least 30 homers this season. During the 1970s, only once did teammates of the Big Red Machine hit at least 30 homers in the same season, and that was in 1970 when Bench and Perez each hit 40.
All in all, the Bombers should give the Reds a run for their money. With A-Rod—the active leader in career home runs—poised to reach 600 dingers soon, Cano potentially winning his first MVP Award, and the Yankees set for another title run, perhaps one more story can be written in the legendary Yankees history books in 2010.