top of page
file.jpg
  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#45)

Updated: Jan 25

By Paul Semendinger

***

I remember when the Yankees acquired Danny Tartabull, #45. “Oh man, we got a good one.” I thought. "D.T.", Danny Tartabull, was going to be star in New York.


Now, before you think that I was crazy, this was 1992. The Yankees were terrible. In 1991, Danny Tartabull had hit .316/31/100 for the Royals. He had led the league in Slugging Percentage (even though I probably didn’t know that at the time). He was a BIG bat. A slugger. I couldn’t wait for him to lead the Yankees up the standings.


Tartabull was okay as a Yankee that first year batting .266/25/85 but it wasn’t what I had hoped. It then went downhill from there.


Danny Tartabull was one of 49 different players to wear #45 as a Yankee. With a list that long, it would be difficult to run down all the players, but here are some highlights:


  • The first Yankee to wear #45 was Clint Courtney in 1951. Courtney was a Yankee for all of one game.

  • Stan Bahnsen wore #45 when he won the Rookie of the Year in 1968.

  • Jim Beattie wore #45 in 1978 when he was insulted by George Steinbrenner.

  • Rudy May wore #45 in 1980 when he led the A.L. in ERA..

  • Dennis Rasmussen wore #45 when he became a Yankee after he was acquired in a trade with the Padres for Graig Nettles.

  • Lots of sluggers beside Danny Taratabull wore #45 at one time or another as Yankees. These include Steve Balboni, Cecil Fielder, Chili Davis, Felix Jose, and Henry Rodriguez.

  • Zolio Almonte and Zelous Wheeler both wore #45.

  • When he did pitch, Carl Pavano was #45.

  • Lots of middle relievers wore the number. Trust me, lots.

  • Luke Voit wore the number in 2018 and 2019.

Currently, #45 belongs to staff ace Gerrit Cole.


Who is the best among these players?


You might be surprised. Let’s count up from fifth to first…


5th Place – 5.6 WAR: Dennis Rasmussen and Rudy May

3rd Place – 7.8 WAR: Gerrit Cole

2nd Place – 7.9 WAR: Danny Tartabull

1st Place – 11.5 WAR: Stan Bahnsen


Stan Bahnsen went 55-52, 3.10 as a Yankee over five seasons. He threw 985.2 innings. He was a good pitcher. He’s often forgotten about, but he was a solid pitcher in a time when the Yankees were mostly a second division club.


The greatest Yankee, right now, to wear #45 is Stan Bahnsen.


Over time, it is suspected, and expected, that Gerrit Cole will surpass him. Cole’s WAR totals as a Yankee have been 2.1 and 5.7. If he gives the Yankees just a 3.8 WAR season in 2022, which would be a disappointment, he would take the all-time WAR total away from Stan Bahnsen.


It is expected that Gerrit Cole will reign supreme as the greatest Yankee who wore #45, but for now Stan Bahnsen claims that honor.

***

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

Comments


dr sem.png

Start Spreading the News is the place for some of the very best analysis and insight focusing primarily on the New York Yankees.

(Please note that we are not affiliated with the Yankees and that the news, perspectives, and ideas are entirely our own.)

blog+image+2.jpeg

Have a question for the Weekly Mailbag?

Click below or e-mail:

SSTNReaderMail@gmail.com

SSTN is proudly affiliated with Wilson Sporting Goods! Check out our press release here, and support us by using the affiliate links below:

587611.jpg
583250.jpg
Scattering the Ashes.jpeg

"Scattering The Ashes has all the feels. Paul Russell Semendinger's debut novel taps into every emotion. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll reexamine those relationships that give your life meaning." — Don Burke, writer at The New York Post

The Least Among Them.png

"This charming and meticulously researched book will remind you of baseball’s power to change and enrich lives far beyond the diamond."

—Jonathan Eig, New York Times best-selling author of Luckiest Man, Opening Day, and Ali: A Life

From Compton to the Bronx.jpg

"A young man from Compton rises to the highest levels of baseball greatness.

Considered one of the classiest baseball players ever, this is Roy White's story, but it's also the story of a unique period in baseball history when the Yankees fell from grace and regained glory and the country dealt with societal changes in many ways."

foco-yankees.png

We are excited to announce our new sponsorship with FOCO for all officially licensed goods!

FOCO Featured:
carlos rodon bobblehead foco.jpg
bottom of page