Lou Gehrig, Don Mattingly and Then Mark Teixeira, Tino Martinez or Bill Skowron?

Harold FriendChief Writer IJuly 5, 2011

Giambi, Skowron, Martinez and Chambliss
Giambi, Skowron, Martinez and ChamblissNick Laham/Getty Images

Determining the third greatest first baseman in New York Yankees history is an almost impossible task.

One's conclusion is going to be questioned regardless of whether she selects Mark Teixeira, Tino Martinez or the "Moose," Bill Skowron.

The choice here is Tino Martinez, followed by Bill Skowron and then Mark Teixeira. Tino is selected over the "Moose" based on his defense.  Is it possible that Mark Teixeira is only the fifth greatest of all Yankees first basemen?

Lou Gehrig followed by Don Mattingly finish first and second, but when one compares Skowron, Tino, and Teixeira, first based on their tenure with the Yankees and then on their entire careers, one fact becomes clear.  

The three first basemen are, as Dorothy Fields and Sigmund Romberg wrote (Dorothy Fields website), closer than pages in a book.

Bill "Moose" Skowron was a Yankee from 1954-62. He hit .294/.346/.496, averaging 25 home runs and 101 RBIs over a 162 games. He is often overlooked thanks to Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Roger Maris.

Skowron suffered a number of injuries, including having his wrist broken in a manner similar to how the great Albert Pujols recently had his wrist broken.

He made himself into an adequate first baseman, but never was considered better than average.  "Moose" was robbed of many a home by the cavernous left center field in Yankee Stadium.

In 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1962, Skowron helped the Yankees win the World Series.

Teixeira is better than Tino or Skowron on defense, but the first baseman the Yankees let go in order to obtain the now legendary fan favorite, Jason (I admit I used) Giambi, hit for a better average in his seasons with the Yankees than Teixeira (.279 to .268).

Teixeira has a higher on base average (.369 to .348) and a higher slugging percentage (.525 to .488) than Martinez.

The numbers for their entire careers, including their Yankees years, are similar.

Teixeira has hit .283/.375/.536 and has averaged 37 home runs and 121 RBIs over a 162 game season.

Tino batted .271/.344/.471. He averaged 27 home runs and 102 RBIs over a 162 game season.

We told you that it wouldn't be easy.

Fans who saw Tino's entire Yankees career might be just a little biased. He stepped into the spot vacated by Don Mattingly in 1995. After a slow start, Tino adjusted and helped the Yankees become World Champions four times, which is four more than Giambi helped them win.

Teixeira helped the Yankees return to what they believe is their rightful place atop the baseball world in 2009. It was their first World Championship since 2000.

Re-examining the numbers between Martinez and Teixeira forces one to re-evaluate one's position. Maybe, just maybe, Teixeira is better than Tino.

Teixeira hit for more power although his career high of 39 in 2009 falls short of Tino's 44 home runs in 1997. Still, Teixeira averaged more home runs a season, with the Yankees and for his career, than did Tino. He had a higher on base average and a higher slugging average.

Yes, a new conclusion must be reached. Mark Teixeira ranks behind Gehrig and Mattingly, and slightly ahead of Martinez and Skowron.

Tino Martinez is one of Yankees fans all-time favorites. Those who attended opening day at Yankee Stadium in 2002 graphically remember how many of them booed Jason Giambi because he was attempting to replace Tino at first.  It was unfair, but it might have been just.

Uh-oh. What happened to Chris Chambliss? He played on the 1977 and 1978 World Champion Yankees. He hit over .290 in his Yankees career, and he was a fine defensive player.  He also hit an important home run that won the 1976 pennant.

For his 17-year career, Chambliss hit .279/.334/.415, averaging 14 home runs and 72 RBIs over a 162 game season. Good, but not good enough to rank ahead of Teixeira, Martinez or Skowron.

Teixeira, Martinez, Skowron and Chambliss are winners. They set excellent examples for their teammates as well as for their fans. They were class, off and on the field.  No one is more fun to talk to than the "Moose."

Once Gehrig and Mattingly are mentioned, one cannot lose regardless of how ranks Teixeira, Martinez and Skowron.


Baseball Reference


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