The Tuesday Discussion: My Favorite Yankees Right Fielder
Continuing our fun (and popular) series…
This week the SSTN writers share who their favorite Yankees right fielder of all-time is.
Paul Semendinger – REG-GIE, REG-GIE, REG-GIE!!!
Three home runs.
My favorite player was Graig Nettles, but it was Reggie who captured my imagination, think anything was possible and that being a Yankees fan was the greatest thing in life.
Tom Russo – Well everyone loves Babe Ruth but I’ve come up in the age of Aaron Judge so let’s go with the hulking face of the franchise who revived this franchise and will carry it into the new age.
Ed Botti – The discussion for “best “right fielder in the history of the New York Yankees begins and ends with Babe Ruth. Period. I don’t think many will debate that.
Favorite right fielder of the New York Yankees, from the perspective of a person that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, has many interesting candidates.
Dave Winfield was a fantastic right fielder with a cannon for an arm. Great hitter, great power, a very engaging and smart man; the whole package.
Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris (before my time) and Lou Piniella also are at the top of my list.
But my favorite of all time is Paul O’Neill. The minute Gene Michael made that trade, everything started to change for Buck Showalter’s Yankees. His intensity helped lay the groundwork for the 1990’s Dynasty, earning him the nickname of the “Warrior”.
A five-time World Series champion (1990 Reds, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 Yankees). A four time All-Star as a Yankees. The 1994 AL Batting Champion, with a .359 batting average.
As a Yankee (9 years) he hit .303 with 185 homers and a 125 OPS+. He trails only Ruth among Yankee right fielders in batting average, hits (1,426), doubles (304) and RBIs (858). He is third in at-bats (4,700) and walks (586).
Who can forget the great catch to end game 5 of the 1996 World Series? Two outs, tying run on second base, 1-0 Yankees. With one good leg he chased down the Luis Polonia drive to right center, made the game saving catch and emphatically slapped the outfield wall in celebration!
I never will.
#21 gets my vote!
Tamar Chalker – That’s a tough one. I’m going to go with Dave Winfield. Just because.
Lincoln Mitchell – It is difficult to imagine just how famous and polarizing Reggie Jackson was in the 1970s. He played on five World Series winning teams, was a perennial All Star and had one of the most famous games in baseball history when he hit three home runs in the last game of the 1977 World Series. However, Reggie was probably more famous for what he did off the field. He spoke his mind, never apologized for his opinions or his wealth, was the biggest free agent prize in the first free agent class and was a magnet for the media. He feuded with owners and manager, but also hit mammoth home runs with great frequency. The truth is watching Reggie strike out, which he did more than anybody in the history of the game, was more exciting than watching many players get a hit.
Everybody had an opinion about Reggie, including me. I loved him. I loved that he chose to play for the Yankees even though other teams offered him more money, and I loved that he led the team to championships during his first year in the Bronx. If I am down a run in a big game with two outs in the 9th and a man on base, I still might want to see Reggie at the plate.
Owen Hetherington – Even before I interviewed him, my favorite right-fielder of all time on the Yankees was Nick Swisher. The reason why I liked Swish so much was because he brought a unique personality to the Yankees organization. Before Swisher’s arrival the “Yankee way” was always baseball and all business. Swisher was able to bring fun to the Yankees organization and because of him, opened the door for Yankees players to show their personalities and enjoy the game. I think his role on that ‘09 championship team went beyond what he did between the lines. Swisher will forever be my favorite right fielder and I’ll always miss the Swisher Salute.
Mike Whiteman – I’ve said before that my favorite players tend to be the ones who go about their business in a quiet, humble manner. They let their play do their talking. Folks like Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams. Mariano Rivera. Derek Jeter.
My favorite right fielder approached the game a bit differently.
Reggie Jackson was a showman and a ballplayer. I remember the anticipation of his coming to the plate. The big swings. The big misses. The big homeruns. I lived and died with his at bats. I thankfully lived a bit more than I died, as his .281/.371/.526 Yankee slash was very good, especially for the late 70s/early 80s. His postseason exploits are of baseball legend. There’s only one Mr. October.
Here’s my favorite Reggie Jackson home run:
It was pure Reggie. Even coming off of a humiliating 1981 season (.237/.330/.421), and struggling in the playoff series up to that point, he could change a game and electrify a crowd with one swing. The throwdown of the bat and the brief stop/smile to watch the ball wouldn’t be earth shattering in today’s game, but was a bit spicy back then. Thus, he was sometimes recognized in an unflattering way as a “hot dog” (certainly a dated 1980s reference).
But boy was he fun to watch.
Ethan Semendinger – My favorite right fielder to watch wearing the Yankees pinstripes was Ichiro Suzuki. While he only manned the position for the Yankees over three seasons, Ichiro had long been one of my favorite players in baseball and learning about his acquisition in 2012 was absolutely amazing. It is a shame that his teams went on to have very little postseason success over his career, but that will have very little effect on his future status towards getting into the hall of fame. My perfect team will always start with a prime Ichiro in right field and leading off.
Outside of him, I did enjoy watching Nick Swisher during his Yankees tenure from 2009-2012 and even though he’s always hurt, it is hard not to be a big fan of Aaron Judge.