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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#26)

By Paul Semendinger

***

In regard to the greatest #26 in Yankees' history, it really comes down to two players. And it actually comes down, in the end, to what one values more - pitching or hitting.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

***

The most worn uniform number in Yankees' history is #26. 74 different players have worn this number to date.

The number has been worn by a bunch of players that had some impressive names like:

  • John Kennedy (1967), but of course it wasn't President John Kennedy...

  • Don Johnson (1947-50), but not the Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame...

  • Archie Moore (1964-65), but not the boxing champ...

  • Frank Baker (1970-71), but not Frank "Home Run" Baker...

  • Casey (1949), but this was Hugh Casey, not the Casey who once had a famous at bat...

  • Jimmy Hall (1969) and Johnny Oates (1980-81) both wore #26, but they weren't (nearly) as successful as the singers Hall and Oates...

  • There was a Sears (Ken, 1943) and a McDonald('s) (Darnell, 2012), but not the corporate giants...

But, in the end, to get to the debate, it comes down to two players:

PLAYER A - A second baseman/infielder. This player is a lifetime .300 hitter as a Yankee (or thereabouts). Through early June 2022, he had accumulated 12.1 WAR as a Yankee.

PLAYER B - A starting pitcher. This pitcher went 61-40 as a Yankee, but, more impressively, went 8-0 in his first eight decisions in the post season. He accumulated 19.0 WAR.


Player A is, of course D.J. LeMahieu. It is very likely that he will end up as the WAR leader and the player who had the longest years of service in uniform #26.


Player B is Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.


There are great arguments to make for each, but as of the writing of this article, I am going to award this honor to Orlando Hernandez.


El Duque was a clutch pitcher. He was also a champion - multiple times. In the world of the Yankees, winning championships matters, and the Yankees won it all in 1998, 1999, and 2000 with Hernandez being a big part of the pitching staff - especially, as noted, in the post season. This makes the winner, for now at least, is El Duque.


***

Most of the background research for this project came from Baseball-Reference.com and the SABR BioProject.

***

PREVIOUS ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES:

3 comments

3 Comments


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jun 14, 2022

I think you've got this right. Both are Big Moment professionals. DJ may eventually surpass Orlando Hernandez, but hasn't yet.

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fuster
Jun 13, 2022

loved El Duque. who was a 3WAR/season player for the Yankees over six seasons.


LeMahieu, of course, is in only his fourth season with the Yanks and has, over the course of that time, clearly demonstrated himself to be better than 3WAR/season.


someone who claimed that the Yankees were paying too much to re-sign a guy who won a batting title for the team and who figured high in MVP balloting in the first two seasons

would be expected to downplay DJ's value.

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yankeerudy
Jun 13, 2022

Let DJ continue to do well and bring home a title or two, and then we can talk. Until then, you are spot on going with El Duque.

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