The All Non-Hall of Fame Yankees Team – Infield
The Yankees have a history of producing Hall of Fame Players and Managers, with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera joining the ranks the past two seasons. Remarkably, the Yankees have such a rich history that you could make a full roster of players that are not in the Hall of Fame and still put together a great team. Without further ado, here is part one of the Yankee’s Non-Hall of Fame Team. Today, we will discuss the Yankees’ starting infield (plus catcher).
CATCHER: Thurman Munson
Munson most likely would have made it into Cooperstown if he had played longer than 11 seasons. Despite his tragic death, Munson made the most of his eleven seasons in the Bronx. He won AL Rookie of the Year in 1970 and then took home the 1976 AL-MVP. In the playoffs, Munson had a .357/.378/.496 slash line. Behind the plate, he was a brick wall and a masterful game-caller. His leadership puts him just ahead of Jorge Posada and Elston Howard.
FIRST BASE: Don Mattingly
With all due respect to Tino Martinez, Mark Teixeira, and Moose Skowron, Mattingly was the Bomber’s face of the 1980s. From 1984 to 1989, Mattingly played like a Hall of Famer, with a .327/.372/.530 slash line, netting an AL-MVP, six all-star appearances, five Gold Glove awards, and three Silver Sluggers. Had injuries not derailed his career, Mattingly may have made it into the Hall.
SECOND BASE: Willie Randolph
Hall of Fame voters may have slept on Randolph’s great career. Sure, he never hit for power, but he knew how to make contact, get on base, and pick it at second. Over the course of his career, Randolph walked 1,243 times (with only 37 intentional walks) and struck out only 675 times. His .373 on-base percentage, while impressive, is just one facet of Randolph’s game. His defense was highly rated for his time period, posting a career defensive WAR of 20.2, via Baseball Reference. His career WAR of 65.9 is 13th all-time among all second basemen, ahead of players like Craig Biggio, Jackie Robinson, and Chase Utley (again, via Baseball Reference). That mark, along with his overall excellence, puts Randolph just inches ahead of Robinson Cano for the starting spot.
THIRD BASE: Alex Rodriguez
Graig Nettles had a fantastic Yankees career, but A-Rod was even better. He led the league in homers twice in Pinstripes while putting up a remarkable .283/.378/.523 slash line. His performance in the playoffs was up and down, but Rodriguez was a crucial part in the Bomber’s 2009 playoff run. His Cooperstown status is up in the air, given his PED usage, but he at least holds the place of the best Yankees’ third baseman not elected to the Hall.
SHORTSOP: Frankie Crosetti
The Yankees’ shortstop depth behind Jeter is admittedly weak compared to their other positions. New York had many great career defensive players with mediocre offensive careers. So, we’re going back to discuss a cornerstone of the 1930s and 40s Bombers. Corsetti did not have the most pop or flash, but he did lead the league in stolen bases in 1938 with 27 while also posting a career high 106 walks and a .382 on-base percentage. Also, in that same year, he had a 1.056 OPS in the Yankees’ World Series victory over the Cubs. Defensively, Crosetti was dependable at short, posting a career defensive WAR of 14.2 (via Baseball Reference). He may not be the flashiest player on this list, but Crosetti was a solid blue-collar player in the Ruth-Gehrig-DiMaggio era.
Tomorrow, we’ll go into the Yankees’ Non-Hall of Fame Outfield and DH