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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#9)

By Paul Semendinger

***

Let's cut right to the chase, there were three great Yankees that wore uniform #9 for a significant period. These players were:


Hank Bauer (1952-59): A Yankee for 14 seasons, a three-time All-Star, and a player on seven World Championship teams.


Roger Maris (1960-66): A Yankee for 7 seasons, a two-time MVP, an All-Star in three seasons as a Yankee, the single-season home run champ for decades, and a member of two World Championship teams.


Graig Nettles (1973-1983): A Yankee for 11 seasons, a five-time All-Star, and a Yankees captain.


***

Today uniform #9 is retired for Roger Maris. But was he a better player as a Yankee than Graig Nettles or Hank Bauer?


Let's take a look:


Batting Average: Bauer (.277), Maris (.265), Nettles (.253)

On Base Percentage: Bauer (.346), Maris (.345), Nettles (..329)

Slugging Percentage: Maris (.476), Bauer (.439), Nettles (.433)

OPS+: Maris (139), Bauer (115), Nettles (114)


By these standards, Maris and Bauer are fighting for the top spot.


But, what if we look at counting stats?


Hits: Nettles (1,396), Bauer (1,326), Maris (797)

Doubles: Bauer (211), Nettles (202), Maris (110)

Home Runs: Nettles (250), Maris (203), Bauer (158)

RBI: Nettles (834), Bauer (654), Maris (547)


This spurs on the old arguments between counting stats, newer stats, accumulating numbers, and peak seasons. What is more valuable? What matters the most?


There is no question that each player left a significant mark on Yankees history.


Let's look at WAR, but in three different ways, Offensive WAR (oWAR), Defensive WAR (dWAR), and overall WAR (WAR):


oWAR: Nettles (35.5), Maris (25.2), Bauer (24.0)

dWAR: Nettles (13.9), Bauer (-1.0), Maris (-1.9)

WAR: Nettles (44.4), Bauer (29.3), Maris (26.3)


Again, all have good numbers overall, but Nettles was the only player with a positive dWAR and his overall WAR is significantly higher than the others.


***

CONCLUSION: This becomes a debate over what an individual values the most. There is no clear-cut answer. (Which hamburger do you most prefer, McDonald's, Burger King, or Wendy's?)


Hank Bauer was a Yankee for a ton more World Series. When compared to Maris and Nettles, Bauer holds up well for percentage stats and accumulating stats. He often ranks first or second, hardly ever third. For consistency, it would be difficult to argue against Bauer.


Roger Maris was the single season home run king for over 60 years. He won two MVPs. He had the highest OPS+. It's tough to argue against Maris.


Graig Nettles dominates most of the counting stats, and the WAR stats. Of the three, he was the most underrated during his playing days. It's tough to argue against Nettles.


In this debate, I'm going to side with WAR. Nettles' advantage there is just too great. But in the end, reasonable people may disagree.


***

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

***

PREVIOUS ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES: (All the links should work. If not, please let us know.)


16 comentarii


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
01 mar. 2023

I agree about Nettles. Another way to look at it is that Nettles is a borderline Hall of Famer. Maris and Bauer are not (two great seasons do not an HoF'er make; ask Dale Murphy about that). This series isn't about who had the best year wearing a number; it's about who was the best overall while wearing it on the Yankees.


And Wendy's beats Burger King and McDonald's hands-down, too. (Though the top of line goes to Five Guys and Shake Shack.)

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
02 mar. 2023
Răspunde utilizatorului

The cheesecake lives up to the hype.

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fuster
01 mar. 2023

no, Paul.


long-term excellence is ....excellent


but MLB centers around annual achievement


as for saying not MERELY the MVPs but also noting the stuff that resulted in being recognized as most valuable.

not merely HRs but also RBIs


you may think it less than honest to put great stock in Maris' two Yankee seasons that went way beyond anything every produced by the other two guys


but


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
01 mar. 2023
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"MLB centers around annual achievement"


If that's the case, please explain why Don Mattingly isn't in the Hall of Fame.


***

Maris' two MVP seasons were great. Yes. But you can't say, "He won two MVPs and he had two seasons of OPS+ over 160."


They were the same two seasons.


He won the MVPs because he was great those years. The OPS+ number reflects that. The OPS+ numbers are evidence why he won the MVP awards, they show how good he was.


The OPS+ numbers and the MVPs go hand-in-hand. You're trying to separate them.


"it wasn't merely the HRs or the two MVPs

it was the seasons with OPS+ of greater than 160."


That's not an honest argument.…


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fuster
01 mar. 2023

CONCLUSION: This becomes a debate over what an individual values the most. There is no clear-cut answer. (Which hamburger do you most prefer, McDonald's, Burger King, or Wendy's?)


not a really reasonable conclusion.


there's a VERY clear-cut answer


and it ain't Nettles or Bauer.


it wasn't merely the HRs or the two MVPs


it was the seasons with OPS+ of greater than 160


neither Bauer nor Nettles had seasons with OPS+ greater than 130s


as well, look at the players career OPS+


and forget about fast-food hamburgers. people who think that they should prefer one or the other are probably sufficiently silly as to regularly eat that stuff rather than either eating in real restaurants

or learning how to cook.


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
01 mar. 2023
Răspunde utilizatorului

That's a great way to make an argument Fuster, but it's flawed. Or, at least, not completely honest.


"Don't consider the MVP awards... The guy had two seasons with an OPS+ over 160."


But, in truth, the years with the OPS+ over 160 were the years he won the MVP awards. You can't have it both ways there.


That's like saying "Judge should be the MVP in 2022, but don't take the 62 homers into consideration."


***

OPS+ can also be looked at differently with these two players:

Maris 7 seasons OPS+ as a Yankee

Nettles 9 seasons OPS+ as a Yankee.


Nettles was a better offensive player for more years as a Yankee than Maris.


***

It's close. …


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yankeesblog
01 mar. 2023

I don't understand how Maris has a negative dWAR (then again I am highly skeptical of WAR and especially dWAR to begin with). Maris was regarded as a superior defensive OF. When Mantle could not longer cut it in CF Maris was moved over there. Maris also made that championship saving play in the ninth inning of game 7 of the 1962 WS preventing Matty Alou from scoring on Willie Mays' double into the RF corner to preserve the Yankees' 1-0 lead.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
01 mar. 2023
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"Range Factor is determined by dividing the sum of a fielder's putouts and assists by his total number of defensive games played." https://www.mlb.com/glossary/advanced-stats/range-factor


It ain't rocket science.

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yankeerudy
01 mar. 2023

I suspected your choice going in, but at least you made an objective-ish argument for it. As you said, it boils down to which stats you prefer.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
01 mar. 2023
Răspunde utilizatorului

The fact that Nettles is my favorite player is no secret, but with all of these articles, I work hard to be as objective as possible.


I was hoping Nettles dominated this more than he did. They all have a compelling case.


Bauer was also a war hero, but that wasn't part of his Yankee playing days, so I didn't want to consider that for this either. (It should be considered when the Yankees retire #21 for O'Neill and not #9 for Bauer who was a superior player, won more championships, and was also a war hero.)

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