With 27 World Series championships and 40 American League pennants, the New York Yankees are the most decorated and prestigious team in baseball.
But how did the Yankees manage to win all of these pennant races, World Series titles and the reputation of being the best club in baseball?
The answer to that question is simple. The Yankees not only have some of baseball's greatest players on their team, but historical legends as well.
As with many other teams, the Yankees have had their share of awful seasons and embarrassing losses. It is players like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle who have helped the Yankees out of their most difficult situations and on a path to pennant and World Series wins.
These players, along with many others, are the reason the Yankees have earned the reputation of being the greatest team in baseball history.
Here is a list of the 20 greatest hitters in New York Yankees history. Their contributions have not only been helpful, but legendary.
Playing in seven World Series games, Bobby Richardson helped bring his team to three wins in 1958, 1961 and 1962. In 1960, Richardson was the first and only player in history to be named World Series MVP from the losing team. He was also the only Yankee to score six runs in the World Series, until Hideki Matsui in 2009.
Throughout his entire career on the Yankees, he received the Gold Glove Award five times, giving the Yankees an incredible defensive infield. He also won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 1963.
Richardson ended his career with a .266 batting average, 1,432 hits and 390 RBI. His best year was in 1962 where he had a hit record of 209, a major contribution to the team's 1962 World Series win.
Bobby Richardson was a clutch hitter, a great second baseman and a reason why the Yankees have the reputation they do today.
Playing his entire 17-season career with the New York Yankees, Crosetti had 1,541 hits, 649 RBI and a .245 batting average.
“The Crow” contributed to eight World Series wins, appeared in two All- Star games and led the American League in at-bats and stolen bases in 1938.
His career with the Yankees did not end in 1948; he later became a coach for the Bombers, where he helped bring his team to more World Series wins.
Joining the Yankees from 1993-1997, Boggs made his mark with the team with a .313 batting average, ranking him sixth in Yankee franchise history.
After 18 years of no rings, the Yankees finally won their much anticipated World Series title in 1996 with the help of Boggs. In the fourth game of the series, Boggs drove in the winning run, leading to a Yankees Game 4 victory and later the World Series title.
While on the Yankees, Boggs won the Gold Glove award twice, the Silver Slugger award twice and participated in three All-Star games. In his best season with the Yankees, he had a .342 batting average, 11 HR, 55 RBI and 125 hits.
Although he did not spend much time on the Yankees, Boggs' short appearance left an impact on the team and brought the Yankees to victory and a World Series title.
Roger Maris is not known for having 797 hits with the Yankees in seven seasons, or an overall batting average of .265. He is known for the home runs which have brought the Yankees to victory.
Maris was traded onto the Yankees in 1959 and had his debut with the team in 1960. In his first season with the Yankees, Maris led the league in extra base hits, runs batted in and slugging percentage. He finished second in home runs, total bases and won the AL MVP.
Mantle and Maris, or the M&M Boys as they were frequently called, were both thought to soon break Babe Ruth’s 60 home run record in one season. With Mantle out with an injury, Maris was left to break Ruth’s record and he did, hitting 61 home runs in one season. In 1962, Maris received the AL MVP for the second time and the Hickok Belt award for being the top athlete of the year.
Maris is known for his home run record, and did not use steroids to get there unlike Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, who “broke" the record after him.
Maris was a great player, home run hitter and contributor to the team.
Being compared to the great catcher Yogi Berra, Jorge Posada has contributed to the Yankee dynasty in more ways than one.
Posada has posted 1,583 hits, 261 home runs, 1021 RBI and a batting average of .275 in his 16 seasons with the Yankees. He appeared in five All-Star games, won five Silver Slugger Awards for his brilliant catching and was a major contributor to four World Series championships. He is the only catcher in history to hit 40 doubles, 20 home runs and have a batting average of .330 in a single season. He even tied Yogi Berra with 30 home runs by a Yankee catcher in one season.
In 2007, Posada managed to break even more records. Posada and Ivan Rodriguez were the only two catchers to hit 40 doubles and he was the first catcher since Thurman Munson to finish in the top 10 AL batting leaders. In 2009, he was the first Yankee since Bill Dickey to hit a grand slam in two games in a row.
In Posada’s 16 seasons with the Yankees, he has proven to be one of the greatest catchers, an outstanding hitter and deserves to be considered one of the greatest Yankee hitters.
Phil Rizzuto, also known as Scooter, was not only a dominant shortstop, but hitter as well.
A dedicated 13-season player with the Yankees, Rizzuto had 1,588 hits, a batting average of .273 and 563 RBI.
When Frankie Crosetti’s batting average started to weaken in 1941, Rizzuto broke out into the major league as a helpful rookie, aiding the Yankees. Rizzuto was a part of seven World Series titles in his career and won the American League MVP in 1950. In this season, he had a career-high batting average of .324, 200 hits and the double play record of 123 in one season.
His success continued from there. In 1951 he was awarded the Babe Ruth Award for his memorable performance in the 1951 season and World Series, where he batted .320 with eight hits.
Rizzuto remains at the top of many record lists such as his sacrifice bunting record, his appearance in 52 World Series games, his performance as a shortstop and more.
Spending 11 seasons with the Yankees, Munson posted 1,558 hits, 113 home runs, 701 RBI and a batting average of .292.
The “heart and soul” of the Yankees joined the team in 1969 in hopes of turning around the Yankees' previous season losses.
In his first complete season in 1970, he won Rookie of the Year, with many more awards and accomplishments to soon follow.
In 1976 he was awarded the American League MVP. After being named team captain, many years after the retirement of Lou Gehrig, Munson batted a .302 average, 186 hits and 105 RBI for that season. His outstanding performance won him the MVP award. His success did not stop there; he brought the Yankees to their first World Series since 1964.
Munson led the Yankees to World Series championships in 1977 and 1978.
Unfortunately, Munson’s career ended abruptly after being killed in a plane crash in 1979. Throughout his career, he broke records, won awards and was one of the greatest Yankee hitters in history.
Bob Meusel shined as a rookie in his debut season with the Yankees with 151 hits, a .328 batting average and 11 home runs.
In 1921 Meusel finished second in the league for home runs with 24 homers. He brought his team to the World Series, where they unfortunately lost to the Giants. The two teams rematched in 1923, and Meusel brought the Yankees to a World Series win.
Meusel hit the peak of his career in 1925, leading the American League with 33 home runs and 138 runs.
He was part of one of the best Yankee teams in history in 1927. The team finished with a 110-44 record and won their fifth pennant. The team consisted of the pummeling Lou Gehrig (.373), Earle Combs (.356) and Babe Ruth (.356). Meusel had a batting average of .337, the highest in his career, 174 hits and eight home runs.
Bob Meusel played on the Yankees for 10 years and ended his career with 1,565 hits, 1,005 RBI and a batting average of .331.
Bob Meusel has played with the greats and is a great player himself.
Roy White started his major league career on the New York Yankees and ended it with them as well.
With the New York Yankee dynasty falling apart, White continued to hit and work hard on the struggling team. With the M&M boys affected by injuries and Roy White not playing too well himself, he turned it around in 1968. He ended off this season with 154 hits and a batting average of .267, a great improvement from the recent 48 hits the prior season.
Although the player never beat records or held numbers such as the greats, he remained steady and continued to aid his team.
From 1965 to 1979, White accumulated 1,803 hits, 160 home runs, 758 RBI and ended his career off with a .271 batting average.
White appeared in two All-Star games and his contributions to the New York Yankees helped the team to two World Series titles in 1977 and 1978.
White helped strengthen the Yankees' reputation and made major plays when needed.
Being part of the “Murderer's Row” and playing alongside the greatest players in the game such as Ruth and Gehrig, it was hard for Lazzeri to make a name for himself. He was unfortunately overshadowed by the other players and not recognized enough for his accomplishments with the Yankees.
In his 12 seasons with the Bombers, Lazzeri accumulated a total of 1,784 hits, 169 home runs, 1,154 RBI and a batting average of .293. His skill, along with the other astonishing players, brought the Yankees to six pennant wins and five World Series titles.
Throughout his career Lazzeri set the bar for many records and broke some himself. He holds the record for the most RBI in one game and was the first professional baseball player to hit two grand slams in one game. Lazzeri hit six home runs over three games, along with seven home runs over four games. Lazzeri remains the only hitter to hit a single, double, triple and home run, ending it with the Grand Slam, in that order.
Lazzeri's involvement with the “Murderer’s Row” and his achievements throughout his career makes his legacy brilliant.
Bill Dickey is not only known for his clutch hitting, but also for the spirit he brought to the Yankees as well.
With a batting average of .313, 1,969 hits and 1,209 RBI in 12 seasons, it is a shame Dickey was another player overshadowed by his teammates Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio.
From 1929-1934, Dickey remained above a .300 batting average. As he started to age, his average slowly declined. However, at the age of 36, Dickey attained a career high of .351 in 1943. He retired a year later.
Dickey and Gehrig were considered best friends and confidants before Gehrig’s untimely death in 1941. When the captain passed away the Yankees were left vacant and heartbroken, it was Dickey's leadership that helped them through it.
In 1954, Dickey was inducted into the Hall of Fame and his No. 8 was retired by the Yankees. Throughout the years Dickey has not been given the recognition he genuinely deserves. He was a great player, person and glue that kept the Yankees together.
Earle Combs was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970 and with good reason.
Spending his entire career with the New York Yankees, Combs managed to have a batting average of .325, 1,866 hits, 59 home runs and 632 RBI.
In his rookie season, Combs batted an astonishing .400 before an injury kept him out of the remainder of the season. The next season Combs became the leadoff hitter and continued his success, ending his season with a .342 batting average.
As injuries continued to plague the star hitter, he decided to retire at the age of 36 after playing in 12 seasons with the Yankees.
Combs had his best season in 1927 with a batting average of .356, 231 hits, 23 triples and 64 RBI. He contributed to three World Series wins, a pennant win in 1926 and a .300-plus average in nine seasons.
Yogi Berra is one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. Because of his skill as a player, Berra received the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times, one out of only four players to accomplish this.
Berra holds World Series records for most hits, doubles, singles and more. He brought the Yankees to an outstanding 13 World Series titles throughout his 18 seasons on the team. Berra proved his magnificent performance as a hitter by leading the Yankees in RBI for seven seasons in a row.
He ended his career with 2,148 hits, 1,430 RBI, 385 home runs and a batting average of .285. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972 and his No. 8 has been retired. Yogi Berra is not only one of the greatest catchers, but players as well. He continued his career as a coach and manager for the Yankees and other teams, helping bring them the success he once brought himself.
Former baseball player Bernie Williams is currently fifth on the Yankee hits list with 2,336 in 16 seasons. Williams ended his career with 287 home runs and a batting average of .297.
Williams started off slow but continued to improve in his remaining seasons, proving to be both a consistent and effective hitter.
In 1995, Williams led the Yankees in runs (93) and hits (173). He has had an outstanding postseason record, posting a .429 batting average in the ALDS against Seattle and a .474 batting average in the ALCS against Baltimore in 1996. His contributions in this year led to the Yankees' long-awaited World Series victory since 1978.
The 1998 season was also amazing for Williams. He contributed to an unbelievable 114-48-win record with a .339 batting average, the highest in the league.
Throughout his career, Williams has broken records and helped build a prestigious dynasty. His stats are among baseball's greats.
Throughout Don Mattingly’s legendary career on the New York Yankees, he received many achievements and awards. He was the Gold Glove Award winner nine times, the Silver Slugger Award winner three times, won AL MVP in 1985, the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 1993 and was the team captain for the Yankees for four years.
Ending his 14-season career with the Yankees in 1995, Mattingly had a batting average of .307, 2,153 hits, 1,099 RBI and 222 home runs.
In his rookie season, Mattingly was second in the league in slugging percentage and also at-bats per strikeout. In the following season, Mattingly’s success continued. He ended the season with a .324 batting average, 35 home runs and was first in the league with 48 doubles and 145 RBI.
In 1986, Mattingly led the league with 238 hits, 53 doubles and a .573 slugging percentage. His batting average of .352 placed him second in the league and Mattingly also set the record for six grand slams in a season.
Unfortunately, despite Mattingly’s efforts, he was not able to ensure a World Series victory for his team. He was simply on the Yankees at the wrong time. He would have shined in the World Series if given the opportunity.
Mattingly has broken records, set the bar for others and has been a leader in home runs, hits and more throughout his career. He is one of the greatest Yankee hitters in history and his accomplishments do not stop there. He has achieved much as a player and for that, the Yankees were lucky to have him.
“The Yankee Clipper” is an unforgettable Yankee who brought his team to 10 pennant wins and nine World Series championships in his 13 years with the New York Yankees.
He finished his career with the Yankees with 2,214 hits, 361 home runs, 1,537 RBI and a batting average of .325. DiMaggio led in batting average in both 1939 (.381) and 1940 (.352). He also led in RBI in 1941 (125) and 1948 (155).
DiMaggio won the AL MVP in 1939, 1941 and 1947. He holds the record for his 56-game hitting streak from May 15 through July 16 in 1941. During his streak, he had a batting average of .408.
DiMaggio is sixth in hits behind Bernie Williams on the Yankees' hit list, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955. His No. 5 is retired by the Yankees. DiMaggio was part of one of the greatest Yankee teams in history and his contributions as a hitter were endless.
Playing 18 seasons with the New York Yankees, Mickey Mantle has definitely left his mark.
Mantle led the AL in RBI, home runs, batting average, runs and more. Mickey Mantle has set records and broken them as well. He stuck with the Yankees through the good and bad, and because of his dedication to his team and endless hard work, he helped bring the Yankees to 12 World Series games and seven World Series titles.
Today, Mantle still holds the World Series record for 18 home runs, 42 runs scored and 40 runs batted in. Other accomplishments throughout his career were receiving the Hickok Belt award for the top professional athlete of the year in 1956. Also in that year, he won the Triple Crown.
Mantle, along with Maris, were in the running for breaking Ruth’s home run record, but Mantle finished short with 52 home runs. In Mantle's career, he had a .298 batting average, 2,415 hits, 536 home runs and 1,509 RBI. He places fourth, right behind Ruth in third, on the Yankees hit list, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.
Describing why Derek Jeter is one of the best hitters in Yankee history will cause multiple slides, so in an attempt to be brief, here are a few reasons as to why he is third on my list.
Playing for 16 seasons on the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter has a batting average of .314, 1,135 RBI and has surpassed both Ruth and Gehrig in hits, making Jeter first with 2,926 hits on the Yankee list.
Derek Jeter began his rookie year, 1996, as the Yankees’ shortstop. He had a batting average of .314 and 190 hits. Jeter batted .361 in the playoffs and contributed to the Yankees' 1996 World Series win. Jeter later led the Yankees to another World Series tile in 1998, batting .353.
Derek Jeter led the AL with 219 hits in 1999 and was second with a batting average of .349 and 134 runs scored. Jeter continued to shine in the postseason, batting .455 in the ALDS, .350 in the ALCS and .353 in the World Series against the Braves, bringing Jeter his third World Series title in 1999.
In 2000 Jeter won the All-Star Game MVP award and the World Series MVP, being the first player to do so.
Jeter was second in the American League in runs scored and BABIP in 2005. In the following season, Jeter was once again second in the AL for batting average, and this time runs scored. During Jeter’s fifth World Series title season, he batted .355 in the 2009 postseason overall and .407 in the World Series.
Along with these achievements, Derek Jeter has won the Hank Aaron Award twice, the Babe Ruth Award, Roberto Clemente Award and many other prestigious honors and awards.
Between his famous dive into the stands in 2004, to his position as captain and leader of the team, Derek Jeter has become one of the most memorable and prestigious players in Yankees history. He has broken records of the greatest players in baseball and will be considered a great himself one day. Derek Jeter is truly one of the Yankees' all-time greatest hitters. He followed in the footsteps of the greats and created his own legacy.
Lou Gehrig is one of the greatest players in baseball history. He set records, broke them and brought the Yankees to victory. If only Gehrig’s life was not cut short at the age of 37, he could have achieved much more.
Lou Gehrig’s big break in baseball occurred in 1926 when he ended the season with a .313 batting average and led the AL in triples (20), home runs (16) and RBI (112). His success continued in the 1926 World Series where he hit .348.
Gehrig ended the 1927 season with .373, 218 hits, 47 home runs and a .765 slugging percentage, one of his best years. He helped bring the Yankees to six World Series wins, and was AL MVP in 1927 and 1936. He holds the record for the most career grand slams and was the Triple Crown winner in 1934.
Gehrig played a total of 2,130 consecutive games until his illness started to take effect. With his stats declining, Gehrig took himself out of a game, refusing to bring down his team.
In his 17-season career with the Yankees, Gehrig had 2,721 hits, 493 home runs, 1,995 RBI and a batting average of .340.
“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
That was an excerpt from his monumental "Luckiest Man" speech on July 4, 1939. Despite his illness, Gehrig never let down his team. He always put the Yankees first, even if that meant ending his consecutive game streak. He was one of the best captains in Yankee history and is considered one of the greatest, if not, the best players in baseball history. His number has been retired and he has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, where he belongs.
Before Babe Ruth came along, the Yankees were considered one of the worst teams in baseball, not winning a single pennant or World Series title in their first 18 years.
After being sold to the Yankees in 1919, Ruth played for the team for 15 years. He gave hope to the crumbling franchise and changed the reputation of the New York Yankees forever.
Ruth already started to set records in his first season with the Yankees. He had a slugging average of .847, which was a record until 2001. He even hit his 139th home run in 1921, breaking Roger Connor’s record. He set records of total bases (457), extra base hits (119) and times on base (379), which have yet to be broken by any other player.
After injury and suspension, 1923 was a turnaround season for Ruth. He finished the season with a .393 batting average, a career high, and led in home runs. In the 1923 World Series against the Giants, Ruth batted a .368, hit three home runs, slugged 1.000 and brought the Yankees to their first World Series win.
In 1927, Ruth was part of the Murderer’s Row, a team that won the pennant by 19 games and won the World Series with a sweep over Pittsburgh. He even beat the home run record with 60 home runs that season. The Yankees played the Cardinals in the 1928 World Series and swept them, too.
The Bambino won seven pennants with the Yankees and four World Series titles. Overall Ruth had 2,518 hits, 1,971 RBI, 659 home runs and a batting average of .349 with New York. Many of his records have gone unbroken.
Despite Ruth’s behavior and menacing activity throughout his career, he is without a doubt the greatest baseball player in history. He took a struggling team with no hope to even win a pennant and actually gave them a chance. With the help of Gehrig, Mantle and other greats, Babe Ruth changed the game of baseball. He helped build a dynasty and a legacy, which continues to live on today.
The Yankees are the best team in baseball and it all started with the greatest hitter in baseball, Babe Ruth.