The Off-Season: Time To Flip The Switch
by Tim Kabel
October 14, 2021
We are in the offseason, albeit much earlier than any of us expected or wanted. So, it is time to turn our attention to topics we could not explore during the regular season. The boon of Boone’s incompetence is oodles of free time to delve into areas that we might not be able to if the team was still playing.
I have decided to devote this blog post to the topic of switch-hitting. The Yankees have had many switch-hitters throughout their history. I don’t know if they have had more than any other team but, it sure seems as if they did. I have compiled a list of the ten best switch-hitters in Yankees’ history. Because it’s my list, it is completely subjective. Your list may be completely different and that’s fine. Actually, that’s the point of this exercise. We need to think about something besides the fact that the Yankees aren’t playing. There, I said it again. We need to take a break from Boone-bashing. Think of this article as a total eclipse of the Boone.
Anyway, for the purposes of this piece, I am considering the best switch hitters who played for Yankees during their careers. In other words, I’m not restricting their performances to their Yankees’ years but rather, the totality of their Major League careers. That being said, as I rank the players, I may give an edge to a player who spent the bulk of his career in pinstripes. The one parameter is that I won’t consider anyone who did not play at least one full season with the Yankees. So, that excludes Lance Berkman. A short tenure also nudged Chili Davis and Tony Fernandez off the list.
Without any further ado, I present my list of the 10 best switch hitters who were Yankees, in reverse order.
10) Tom Tresh
Tom Tresh played for two teams, the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. He played for the Yankees from 1961 to 1969, when he was traded to Detroit to finish his season and his career. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1962 and a member of the World Series Championship team of that same year. He was a versatile player. In 1962, he hit .286 with 20 home runs and 93 RBI, while playing shortstop and left field. He was a two-time All Star and a Gold Glove winner in 1965.
9) Nick Swisher
Nick Swisher’s Yankees’ career lasted four years from 2009 through 2012. He was a member of the World Championship team of 2009. His career was 12 years long and he had 1,338 hits with 245 home runs and 803 RBI. As a Yankee, he was a solid performer, whose flaws were magnified in the postseason. He was ebullient and affable and brought a lot of energy to the team. Unfortunately, he also caused John Sterling to foist the word “Swishalicious” on us.
8) Ruben Sierra
Ruben Sierra’s career was probably a lot better than most people realize. He played for a total of 20 years and had 2,152 hits with 306 home runs and 1,322 RBI. He had two stints with the Yankees from 1995 to 1996 and again from 2003 through 2005. As a Yankee, he played 383 games with 311 hits, 45 home runs and 221 RBI.
7) Roy White
Roy White is in many ways a forgotten Yankee. He came to the majors in 1965, when the Yankees were beginning their collapse. He stayed through 1979 and was a two-time World Champion in 1977 and 1978. He was a two-time All Star in 1969 and 1970. In 1971, he set an American League record for most sacrifice flies in a season with 17. He led the American League in walks in 1972 and in runs in 1976. In his 15-year Major League career, White played in 1,881 games, accumulating 1,803 hits, with a .271 batting average. He had 160 home runs and 758 RBI. He led American League left fielders in fielding percentage for four consecutive years between 1968 and 1971. He was a solid player who came up when the Yankees were dismal and when the team returned to championship form, he was obscured by flashier and more controversial players. However, he truly was a very good player and a class act for the Yankees,
6) Mark Teixeira
Mark Teixeira played 14 years and had 409 home runs, 1,298 RBI, and batted .268. His career was adversely affected by injury and the shift, particularly when batting left-handed. In 2009, he led the American League in home runs and RBI and finished second in the Most Valuable Player award voting. He won his only World Series ring that year. He was a three-time All Star, won the Gold Glove five times and the Silver Slugger award three times. He holds the record for most games with a home run from both sides of the plate, with 14.
5) Jorge Posada
Jorge Posada played his entire 17-year career for the Yankees. He retired with a .273 batting average, 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI. He was a five-time All Star. He won five Silver Slugger awards and was on the roster of four World Championship teams. He is a member of the “Core Four”. Posada is only the fifth MLB catcher with at least 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 275 home runs, and 1,000 RBI in a career. He is the only MLB catcher to ever hit .330 or better with 40 doubles, 20 home runs, and 90 RBI in a single season, (2007). He is the only catcher on this list. Sorry, Butch Wynegar.
4) Carlos Beltran
Although Carlos Beltran only played for the Yankees for 2 1/2 seasons, he is a likely Hall of Famer, having played 20 seasons and amassing 2,725 hits, 435 home runs and 1,587 RBI. He ranks 6th place all time in career hits for a switch hitter. Interestingly, he has one less than Chipper Jones and one more than Roberto Alomar, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame. Beltran was a nine-time All Star, Rookie of the Year, three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and the Roberto Clemente Award winner in 2013.
3) Tim Raines
Tim Raines is regarded as one of the best leadoff hitters and baserunners in baseball history. He is one of 29 players to have played in Major League Baseball games in four decades. Although his Yankees’ career was hampered by injuries, he was a key player and provided leadership to the World Championship teams of 1996 and 1998. In his 23-year career, he had 2,605 hits and 808 stolen bases. He was a seven-time All Star, four-time stolen base champion and the National League batting champion in 1986. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
2) Bernie Williams
Bernie Williams played his entire 16-year career with the Yankees. He was a five-time All Star, four-time World Series champion, and the ALCS MVP of 1996. He won four Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger award. He was the American League batting champion in 1998. He batted .297 for his career, with 2,336 hits, 287 home runs, and 1,257 runs batted in. As of 2021, he holds the career postseason record for RBI with 80. We can also blame him for starting John Sterling on his path of creating home run calls for every player as “Bern, baby, bern”. was the first.
1) Mickey Mantle
His name says it all. He is the gold standard for switch-hitters. Mickey Mantle is considered by most to be the greatest switch-hitter in baseball history. He was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century team in 1999. He was a twenty-time All Star, seven-time World Series Champion, three-time MVP and won the Triple Crown in 1956. He led the league in home runs four times. It was because of him that the term tape measure home run came into existence. He is the only player in history to hit 150 home runs from both sides of the plate in his career.
Honorable Mention: Herb Pennock
Herb Pennock was a switch-hitter but, was better known as a pitcher with the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees. He was a six-time World Series Champion, winning four with the Yankees. He was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 1948.
Of note: Melky Cabrera did not make my list but, almost did. It might surprise you to discover that he has a career batting average of .285 with 1,962 hits and 854 RBI. The Melkman delivered more than I realized.
#CarlosBeltran #MickeyMantle #HerbPennock #BernieWilliams #JorgePosada #TimRaines