Now that his Yankee career has ended (some would say mercifully), Alex Rodriguez can fill the third base slot on the all-time Yankee team.
A-Rod won two MVPs with the Yankees (2005, 2007), hit 351 of his 696 career home runs in pinstripes and had more than 1,000 RBIs. And he helped lead the Yankees to their last World Championship, in 2009, with an outstanding post-season effort when he hit .365 with 6 HRs and 18 RBIs. His 54 home runs in 2007 are the most ever for a right-handed Yankee hitter.
Of course, A-Rod’s reputation will be forever stained by his admitted steroid abuse, his playoff collapses, and his insecurity. But this isn’t the Hall of Fame, it’s the Yankee all-time team.
Third base is the only position on the team not manned by a Hall of Famer. (Yeah, Wade Boggs played for the Yankees for several years, but his greatest years were in Boston.)
After A-Rod, here are the next five greatest third basemen in Yankee history.
Graig Nettles, power hitter and Gold Glove fielder who led the AL in home runs in 1976 and was a member of the 1977 and 1978 World Series winners.
Red Rolfe, another outstanding fielder, helped the Yankees win five titles (1936-39 and 1941) and retired in 1942 to become baseball coach at Yale.
Joe Dugan, aka Jumping Joe, was the third baseman on one of the greatest teams ever, the 1927 Yankees. A .280 lifetime hitter, he played on 5 Yankee pennant winners.
Gil McDougald, played multiple infield positions on five World Champions under Casey Stengel. He was AL Rookie of the Year in 1951. McDougald later coached at Fordham.
Clete Boyer, tremendous glove man, played the hot corner for five straight pennant winners (1960-64), and hit 95 homers as a Yankee.
Boggs, who hit .300 or better in four of his five Yankee years, and Scott Brosius, who won three straight World Series in his four seasons, deserve honorable mention.
The rest of the all-time Yankee team consists of Hall of Famers….or sure-fire Hall of Famers in the case of the shortstop and relief pitcher. Here’s the list:
C – Yogi Berra
1B – Lou Gehrig
2B – Tony Lazzeri
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – A-Rod
OF – Babe Ruth
OF – Joe DiMaggio
OF – Mickey Mantle
LHP – Whitey Ford
RHP – Red Ruffing
RP – Mariano Rivera
When Major League Baseball announced its Franchise Four results recently, if left a ton of talent on the other side of Mount Rushmore. Although it’s difficult to argue with many of the selections, leaving Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens off the 8-man lists of the teams they played for is unfathomable. If you want to argue steroids, then tell me how Barry Bonds made the Franchise Four for the Giants.
MLB also pulled together a Greatest Pioneer list, consisting of Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie, Christy Mathewson and Cy Young. Perhaps that’s a CYA list, since these immortals weren’t voted in by fans of their respective teams. The Negro League quartet of Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Buck O’Neil and Satchel Paige sounds about right. Only old Satch ever made it to the majors.
There are also issues with the Greatest Living Player foursome. Henry Aaron and Willie Mays are no-brainers, and Sandy Koufax gets a pass, despite a brief but brilliant career. But choosing Johnny Bench over Yogi Berra is wrong. Berra has a higher lifetime batting average (.285 to .267), more rings (10 to 2), more RBIs and nearly as many home runs as Bench. Yogi also managed two teams, the Yankees and the Mets, to the seventh game of the World Series. Berra is an icon, Bench is merely a catcher. Since the results were announced during the All-Star Game festivities in Cincinnati, perhaps MLB wanted to put Bench on the list. Just sayin’.
There, now that we have that out of the way, here’s my list by position of top ballplayers on the other side of Mount Rushmore, legends who struck out on the Franchise Four’ Starters are listed first, followed by reserves ranked in order of selection
C – Yogi Berra, Yankees
Bill Dickey, Yankees
Carlton Fisk, Red Sox
Roy Campanella, Dodgers
1B – Albert Pujols, Cardinals
George Sisler, Browns
Bill Terry, Giants
Eddie Murray, Orioles
2B – Eddie Collins, A’s/White Sox
Charlie Gehringer, Tigers
Nap Lajoie, Naps (now Indians)
Tony Lazzeri, Yankees
SS – Derek Jeter, Yankees
Ozzie Smith, Cardinals
Dave Concepcion, Reds
Luis Aparicio, White Sox
3B – Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Pie Traynor, Pirates
Eddie Matthews, Braves
Wade Boggs, Red Sox/Yankees
OF – Joe Jackson, Indians/White Sox
OF – Al Simmons, A’s
OF – Mel Ott, Giants
Harry Heilmann, Tigers
Jim Rice, Red Sox
Zack Wheat, Dodgers
Larry Doby, Indians
Chuck Klein, Phillies
Paul Waner, Pirates
Ralph Kiner, Pirates
Sam Crawford, Tigers
Goose Goslin, Senators
SP – Cy Young, Red Sox
SP – Walter Johnson, Senators
SP – Christy Mathewson, Giants
SP – Carl Hubbell, Giants
SP – Roger Clemens, Red Sox
Grover Alexander, Phillies/Cub/Cardinals
Juan Marichal, Giants
Whitey Ford, Yankees
Dizzy Dean, Cardinals
Ferguson Jenkins, Cubs
John Smoltz, Braves
Tommy Glavine, Braves
Ted Lyons, White Sox
Catfish Hunter, A’s/Yankees
Gaylord Perry, Giants/Indians
Red Ruffing, Red Sox/Yankees
John Clarkson, Braves (formerly Beaneaters)
Eddie Plank, A’s
Dazzy Vance, Dodgers
Addie Joss, Naps (formerly Indians)
RP – Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Goose Gossage, Yankees/White Sox
Bruce Sutter, Cardinals/Cubs
Hoyt Wilhelm, Giants/A’s
Losing Mariano River may turn out to be the defining moment of the Yankee season.
In 1992, the New York Yankees finished with a 76-86 record, 20 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and tied for fourth place in the AL East. It was Buck Showalter’s first year at the helm
That year, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the 11th year in a row. Since 1992, they’ve missed the playoffs just twice.
That was 20 years ago. That was then and this is now, But a quarter of the way through the 2012 season, we may be looking at the worst Yankee team since 1992.
Here’s 10 reasons why:
1. No Mo — For 15 years, the Yankees have had the biggest security blanket in the history of baseball. Then Mariano Rivera injured his knee shagging fly balls in Kansas City. No more. No Mo.
2. RISP means RIP — Yankees routinely get into scoring position, then die at second and/or third base. Worst in the majors this month in hitting with runners in scoring position.
3. Warning track power — They’re not playing A-Rod $30 million a year to be a singles hitter. The ball doesn’t explode off his bat they way it did a few years ago. The days of 35 homers, 120 RBIs are history.
4. CC and pray — Reloaded in the off-season, the Yankee rotation was supposed to be a plus. But outside of CC Sabathia there are a lot of inconsistencies, older arms and question marks.
5. HR or bust — Only once all year have the Yankees won a game in which they didn’t hit a home run. Only twice this year have they won a game in which they scored less than five runs. Which leads to….
6. Slow stripes — Without Brett Gardner, the Yankees are plodding along, showing their age. It’s pretty much station to station. There’s very little little ball in the Bronx.
7. Tex mess — Mark Teixeira is a wreck. He’s battling a bronchial illness, his average has gone down each year he’s been a Yankee, and he absolutely refuses to hit against a shift.
8. Home groan pitching — Been an issue for many years. Hughes, Nova, Joba, the Killer Bs…and they let the best one, Ian Kennedy, get away. The Yankees haven’t developed a Cy Young winner since Ron Guidry in 1978.
9. Joe must go — In the Steinbrenner-Martin salad days, George would have already fired and re-hired Billy. If the Yankees don’t make the playoffs with the highest payroll in baseball, Girardi will be on the hot seat in New York.
10. Injuries — Not an excuse, but the Yankees have been hit hard by injuries. Mariano, David Robertson, Michael Pinieda, Gardner, Joba, that’s a fifth of the roster right there.
Wherever he is, George Steinbrenner is mighty pissed off.
Citizens of the Yankee universe were desperately seeking some sort of George Patton-like missive from The Boss following the Bombers timid showing against the Tigers in the ALDS. You know, the front office memo that apologizes to the fans, rips the team and vows to fight to the death for a World Championship next year. We’re Yankees, we’re battered and we’re beaten, but we bleed pinstripe blue. Something like that.
There really are no excuses for the Yankees loss to the Detroit. George would agree, and he’d know where to point the finger.
It’s as easy as 1-2-3….or in this instance 4-5-6. The heart of New York’s lineup, 4-5-6 hitters Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, played like kitty cats against the Tigers and cost the Yanks the series. The numbers don’t lie:
- A-Rod — 2-for-18 against Detroit .180 batting average in his last 14 playoff games.
- Tex — 3-for-18 against Detroit, .170 post-season BA since joining Yankees in 2009.
- Swisher — 4-for-19 against Detroit, .160 post-season BA since joining Yankees in 2009.
Wait, It Gets Worse
In the Yankees last two post-season series, losses to the Tigers and to the Rangers in the 2010 ALCS, A-Rod is 6-for-39, Teixeira 3-for-32 and Swisher 6-for-41. That’s 15-for-112, a combined .134 batting average.
Rodriguez has six years and $143M left on his contract. An albatross, he’ll be 42 when that contract runs out, and his body is already breaking down. Old-Roid played in just 99 games this season.
Take away 2009, and A-Rod has been a post-season bust. He’s struck out to end each of the Yankees last two playoff series.
Teixeira has five years and $112.5M left his contract, and is signed through 2016, when he will be 36. And Swisher, who turns 31 next month, will be back next year if the Yankees exercise their $10.25M option.
That’s a lot of time and money invested in three middle-of-the-order guys who can’t hit in the clutch.
Red Sox Favorites
After failing to sign free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, the Yankees entered the 2011 season in a strange position — underdogs. The Red Sox were the consensus pick to win the AL East.
However Boston fell apart during in an epic September swoon, and the Yankees won the division.
That’s great, but Yankee teams are judged on one criteria — championships won.
As The Boss knows, anything less is a disappointment. A very big disappointment.
Here’s my ballot for the 2011 All-Star Game. Vote for your favorites at mlb.com.
1B – Adrian Gonzalez, Boston
2B – Robinson Cano, New York
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland
3B – Alex Rodriguez, New York
C – Alex Avila, Detroit
DH – David Ortiz, Boston
OF – Jose Bautista, Toronto
OF – Curtis Granderson, New York
OF – Josh Hamilton, Texas
1B – Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
2B – Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
3B – Chipper Jones, Atlanta
C – Brian McCann, Atlanta
OF – Carlos Beltran, New York
OF – Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
OF – Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
Atlanta’s Tony Cloninger is the only pitcher in baseball history to hit two grand slams in the same game.
The First Time
1. Roger Connor of the Troy Trojans is the first major league player to hit a grand slam, keying an 8-7 win over the Worcester Ruby Legs on September 10, 1881.
23 for Gehrig
2. Lou Gehrig hit 23 career grand slams, the most in major league history. Alex Rodriguez hit his 22nd career slam April 23, 2011.
3. Don Mattingly set a single season record with six grand slams in 1987 — the only slams of his 14-year career. Travis Haffner tied Mattingly’s record in 2006.
Can’t Get Any Better Than This
4. Four players have hit grand slams in their first MLB at bat — Bill Duggleby (1898), Jeremy Hermida (2005), Kevin Kouzmanoff (2006), and Daniel Nava (2010). Kouzmanoff and Nava hit their grand slams off the first pitch.
Twice in One Inning
5. The Cardinals Fernando Tatis is the only player to hit two grand slams in one inning — both off Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park — on April 23, 1999.
A Series Slam
6. Cleveland’s Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam in World Series history, Game Five against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1920. Smith’s slam was overshadowed later in the game by Indians second baseman, who turned the only unassisted triple play ever in the Series.
The Ultimate Walk-Off Slam
7. Roberto Clemente is the only player in MLB history of hit a walk-off, inside-the-park ultimate grand slam, in 1956 for the Pirates. An ultimate grand slam is a walk-off slam for a one-run victory.
Some Pitchers Can Hit
8. Tony Cloninger of the Braves is the only pitcher to hit two grand slams in a game, in 1966 against San Francisco. Yankee hurler Mel Stottlemyre is the last pitcher to hit an inside-the-park grand slam, in 1965 against the Red Sox.
An All-Star Rarity
9. Fred Lynn is the only player ever to hit a grand slam in the All-Star game. The Angels outfielder performed the feat in the 50th anniversary game in 1983.
Three in A Game
10. Only twice have three grand slams been hit in a single game — Baltimore (2) vs. Texas (1) in 1986 and Cubs (2) vs. Houston (1) the following year.
Three is a magic number in baseball. Three strikes and you’re out. Three outs in an inning. Babe Ruth wore #3.
When Alex Rodriguez, above, hit three home runs iagainst Kansas City on August 14, it marked the 30th time a Yankee player hit three homers in a single game.
Lou Gehrig achieved the feat four times, and hit four in one game, the only Yankee to perform that feat. Joe DiMaggio did it three times.
So did the Babe, although only one of his three occurred during the regular season. Ruth hit the final three home runs of his storied career in 1935 for the Boston Braves in a game at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field, and retired soon afterwards.
A-Rod joins Tony Lazzeri, and Bobby Murcer as the only other Yankees to hit three in a game two times. Rodriguez had three HRs and 10 RBIs against Bartolo Colon and the Angels in 2005.
In all 20 Yankees have accomplished the feat, including eight Hall of Famers — Ruth, Lazzeri, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Johnny Mize, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson.
Ruth’s World Series Heroics
Ruth was the first Yankee to hit three in a game, against the Cardinals at old Sportsman Park in St. Louis in 1926 in the World Series, right. The Babe must have loved St. Louis, repeating the feat in 1928 to power the Yankees to a four-game sweep.
Ruth had his only regular season “hat trick” with the Yankees on May 22, 1930, in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park in the first game of a doubleheader which the Yankees lost, 15-7. Gehrig repeated the feat the following day in the first game of a another doubleheader in Philadelphia, a 20-13 victory over the A’s. Oh yes, Ruth and Lazerri also homered in that game.
Reggie Jackson is the only other major leaguer ever to hit three home runs in a World Series game. In just three swings in Game Six of the 1977 World Series against the Dodgers, Jax lifted the Yanks to to their first championship. in 15 years.
Gehrig is the only Yankee to hit four home runs in a single game, on June 4, 1932, against the Athletics in Philadelphia. He was the first player in the modern era to hit four in a single game. He belted the circuit clouts in his first four at bats in a 20-13 win against the A’s. Gehrig missed a fifth home runs by inches, when his drive was caught in the furthest reaches of deep centerfield.
In that same game, Lazzeri became the only player in major league baseball to finish a natural cycle with a grand slam.
Other Interesting Yankee Trey Factoids
On May 21 and 22, 1930, Ruth and Gehrig hit three home runs in successive games.
Mantle, Tommy Tresh and Tony Clark hit homers from both sides of the plate in their 3 HR games
Bobby Murcer hit four consecutive home runs — three in the second game — in a 1970 doubleheader against the Indians at Yankee Stadium.
Reggie Jackson, left, hit a home run in his final at bat in Game Five and three in a row during Game Six of the 1977 World Series. (My friend Matty was at the game at Yankee Stadium, and missed all three Reggie homers. But that’s a story for another blog.)
Johnny Blanchard in 1961 and Mickey Mantle in 1962 are the only other Yankees to hit four home runs in a row.
Lazzeri hit two grand slams and a third home run and drove in an American League record 11 runs in 1936 in a 25-2 rout of the Athletics at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Poosh em up Tony was also the first Yankee to hit three home runs in a single game in the regular season, in 1927.
On three separate occasions, the Yankees have lost a game in which a player hit three home runs — Ruth in 1930, Mize in 1950 and Mike Stanley in 1995.
DiMaggio’s first three home run game in 1937 resulted in an 11-inning, 8-8 tie with the St. Louis Browns in Sportsman’s Park.
Mize holds the MLB record for most times hitting three home runs in a game — six. Five came with the Cardinals and Giants in the National League. He was the first player to hit three home runs in a game twice in one season in 1938 and did it again in 1940.
Mize had his final three home run game with the Yankees in 1950, just five days after DiMaggio performed the feat for the third time.
The Yankees as a team have hit three home runs in a game twice in different seven seasons — 1927, 1930, 1932, 1950, 1977, 1995, and this year.
Earlier this year, Mark Teixeira became the first Yankee to hit three home runs in a game at Fenway Park since Gehrig in 1927.
Yankees Who Have Hit Three Home Runs in One Game
1926 — Babe Ruth (World Series)
1927 — Tony Lazzeri
1927 — Lou Gehrig
1928 — Babe Ruth (World Series)
1929 — Lou Gehrig
1030 — Babe Ruth
1930 — Lou Gehrig
1932 — Lou Gehrig (4 HRs)
1932 — Ben Chapman
1936 — Tony Lazzeri
1937 — Joe DiMaggio
1939 — Bill Dickey
1940 — Charlie Keller
1948 — Joe DiMaggio
1950 — Joe DiMaggio
1950 — Johnny Mize
1955 — Mickey Mantle
1965 — Tom Tresh
1970 — Bobby Murcer
1973 — Bobby Murcer
1977 — Cliff Johnson
1977 — Reggie Jackson (World Series)
1995 — Mike Stanley
1996 — Darryl Strawberry
1995 — Paul O’Neill
1997 — Tino Martinez
2004 — Tony Clark
2005 — Alex Rodriguez
2010 — Mark Teixeira
2010 — Alex Rodriguez