The New York Yankees are a stalwart franchise, being ingrained in many of the greatest events in MLB History. While Yankee fans will tell you about their MLB-best 27 rings, there’s more to it than that. They are also known for battles with their arch-rival Red Sox, stories of their teams, and the market in New York City. They’ve been a crown-jewel of the sports world in New York, and a lot of that is because of their iconic players. Superstars are synonymous with New York, and they always have some of the best talent in the sport. With a long list of all-time greats, it’s time we talk about the five greatest Yankees of all time.
Andy Pettitte: With a 3.94 ERA and 3.77 FIP as a Yankee in the height of the steroid era, he was a durable and steady hand for the Core-Four Yankees. A 57.1 fWAR in 2,796.1 IP is a sign of his long tenure as a Yankee, but he simply just couldn’t crack the top five.
Whitey Ford: Regarded as the greatest Yankee starter ever, Ford had a 2.75 ERA and 3.26 FIP. He was a playoff legend for the Yankees, however, the players ahead of him just are too great to be eclipsed by him.
Derek Jeter: This one hurts, I really wanted to put Derek Jeter on here but I simply couldn’t put him over some of the other players. Jeter was an elite hitter for his position, and had a long illustrious career in October and as a Yankee in the regular season. He’s an all time great, but not greater than the five ahead of him.
Yogi Berra: Just like Derek Jeter, this hurt my feelings to leave him out of the top five. He’s been apart of so much winning with the Yankees, winning an MLB record 10 World Series rings, and was a good hitter and defender at catcher. He’s a very good baseball player, but just not a top five Yankee.
Number 5: Mariano Rivera
Mariano Rivera is rightfully regarded as the greatest reliever in MLB history. Outside of his poor 1995, he has never had a bad season as a reliever. From 1996-2013 when he retired he only had one season with an above 3.00 ERA, and in that season he had a below 3.00 on all of his peripherals (FIP, xFIP, SIERA). It gets even better, as in 141 playoff innings, he had a 0.70 ERA, which is unequivocally great. He was as stable as it gets and was a key contributor to every Yankee championship they won with him.
Number 4: Joe DiMaggio
Joltin’ Joe established himself as a megastar in his era, being one of the best centerfielders in MLB history. Despite only playing 1736 games (~10.7 162 game seasons), he accumulated a whopping 83.1 fWAR. He also had a 152 wRC+ and .439 wOBA, which is unreal. His 56-game hitting streak may never be broken again, and had World War II not taken seasons from him in his prime, he could’ve been in the top three.
Number 3: Mickey Mantle
While Joe DiMaggio is great, the best centerfielders the Yankees have ever had is switch-hitter Mickey Mantle. While yes DiMaggio had a 152 wRC+, Mickey Mantle had a 170 wRC+. He also had an unreal 112.3 fWAR, making him part of the elite 100+ WAR club. He’s incredibly great and his offensive production was off of the charts good. He’s one of the greatest Yankees ever and is in the discussion for the greatest centerfielder in MLB history.
Number 2: Lou Gehrig
I don’t think I need to do too much explaining, seeing that Lou Gehrig was an elite hitter and did it in under 2,200 games. With a 116.3 fWAR, a .477 wOBA, and 173 wRC+. He’s one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. He’s third all-time in wRC+ and in wOBA as well. He also is fifth in OBP and third in SLG. There is simply no argument that he’s one of the greatest Yankees ever, and he is probably the best first baseman in MLB history.
Number 1: Babe Ruth
Was there ever a doubt that the Great Bambino would be first? First in SLG, second in OBP, first in wOBA (the only player with an above .500 wOBA), first in wRC+ (only player with an above 190 wRC+), first in fWAR, and fourth in BB%. He’s one of if not the greatest athletes ever in any sport, not just in the GOAT debate. I simply can not put any Yankee above Babe Ruth, and I think he’s the clearcut greatest Yankee in MLB history.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images