The Worst Yankees Lineup Ever-Part II
Every now and then the Yankees have had a great player at the hot corner. Graig Nettles and Alex Rodriguez were among the best at that position for years. On other championship teams, the third baseman has been a very good player overshadowed by even better ones. Red Rolfe, Clete Boyer and Scott Brosius are examples of this. When they were not winning championships, the Yankees often found themselves with several years of decent but unspectacular play at third base provided by people like Mike Pagliarulo or Chase Headley.
The worst third baseman for the Yankees was the starting third baseman for six years, from 1923-1928 including for four pennant winning teams and three that went on to win the World Series. Joe Dugan was not that much less effective than Headley or Pagliarulo, but gets the nod here because he could never hit. Over more than 700 games, he managed an OPS+ of 82. During a period when power hitters were beginning to take over the game, Dugan hit a total of 19 home runs with the Yankees. Dugan is a reminder that the great Murderers Row lineup of the 1920 was very top heavy and got very little production from shortstop or third base.
Everett Scott was considered a good player while he was active. Before Lou Gehrig he briefly held the American League record for games played. Scott was a good defensive shortstop, but by the time he got to the Yankees, in a big trade with the Red Sox between the 1921 and 1922 seasons, Scott’s offense was terrible. During his three years as the Yankees shortstop, he hit .255/.283/.328. The 1920s were a high offense era, so those dismal numbers add up to an OPS+ of 58. To make matters worse, Scott was six for nineteen in his attempts to steal bases. Shortstop has long been a defense first position, but even give that, Scott was a drag on the Yankees offense. The Yankees won the pennant in 1922 and 1923, so Scott’s poor production didn’t matter much. However, in 1924 they lost the pennant by two games. Scott had a -0.7 WAR season that year. If the Yankees had gotten more production out of shortstop in 1924, they might have won a fourth consecutive pennant, as they had also won in 1921 before Scott joined the team.
Bud Metheny was not a terrible ballplayer, but he was a slightly below average hitter and, based on the data we have, a subpar defender as well. He was primarily a right fielder, but on this team, he is the left fielder. Metheny probably never would have been a big league regular if the great Yankees outfielders, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Keller and Tommy Heinrich had not been serving in the military in 1944 and 1945. Metheny, played a bit in 1943, became a regular in 1944 and 1945, and was released after three plate appearances in 1946, after the other ballplayers had come back from the war. During his time with the Yankees, Metheny hit .247/.323/.359 in 1,584 plate appearances for a total of 0.8 WAR.
Centerfield has been another position where the Yankees have had some great players. Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle are among the best ever at that position. Earle Combs is one of the less deserving members of the Hall of Fame, but was a very good player. Bernie Williams remains one of the most underappreciated Yankees and was a better player than Combs. Over the years other centerfielers such as Bobby Murcer, Mickey Rivers and Brett Gardner have given the Yankees some excellent seasons as well.
The Yankees have not had too many sub-par centerfielders who have held on to the job for long, but somebody needs to be the centerfielder on this team. Ping Bodie is probably most famous for remarking that he roomed with Babe Ruth’s luggage for two years, but he has an interesting story of his own. Bodie, whose real name was Francesco Stephano Pezzolo was the first of several Italian Americans including, Joe DiMaggio and Tony Lazzeri to make it from San Francisco to the Yankees. Bodie grew up one neighborhood west of the North Beach neighborhood that was home to DiMaggio and Lazzeri in a part of San Francisco known as Cow Hollow. Another Italian American, George Moscone, who was elected mayor of San Francisco in 1975 and was tragically assassinated in 1978, also grew up in that neighborhood, so did a Jewish academic and lifelong Yankees fan named Lincoln Mitchell. Bodie, was not a bad player at all for the Yankees, accumulating 3.6 WAR as the regular centerfielder in two seasons and a part timer in two more. However, he probably the least productive player to be a Yankees regular at that position for two years or more.
Ichiro Suzuki was one of the best and most influential players of his generation. He was a beloved superstar in two countries, and a pleasure to watch, but by the time he got to the Yankees he was done. He hit .281/.314/.361, albeit while providing solid defense and stealing 49 bases in 61 tries, over about two and a half seasons with the Yankees. Ichiro seems out of place on this team, but he was not good as a Yankee and narrowly edges out Mel Hall for right field spot on this team.
Taken as a whole, this team would not be very good. The top of the rotation would be terrible and there would be no standout offensive players. However other than Metheny and Suzuki, all of the players in the lineup were starters on pennant winning Yankees teams. You could probably win a pennant with two, or even three, of these guys in your lineup, but not more than that.