The Greatest Yankee of All Time--Revisited
A friend and reader asked that I look again at the Yankees. I'll admit, I was not doing a terribly scientific job when I picked Yogi. I thought, well, Mantle had his great years, but he was injured a lot and Ruth played 7 years or so in Boston, so his entire career as a pitcher and about a year of his career as an outfielder are erased, and Dimaggio had a relatively short career partially because of the war, so the other great guys are gone, right? And my friend said, what about Gehrig?
The short answer is that the Yankees have of course a great competition for the title of the greatest of all time.
I used 1700 games played as a Yankee, a very high standard. Fourteen players have donned the pinstripes in MDCC contests, and they are for the most part the players you think of when you think of the Yankees--Mantle, Gehrig, Berra, Ruth, Roy White, Bill Dickey, Mattingly and Dimaggio. The guys just behind are not bad--Randolph, Crosettie, Rizzuto, Lazzeri and Bernie Williams all have over 1600 games, but they're just not credible candidates.
Ruth Barely misses leading the Yankees all-time in RBI, with 1,971 runners plated compared to Gehrig's 1,995. Mantle and Dimaggio are both around 1500. Ruth leads by a larger margin though in Runs Scored, with 1,959, first among Yankees to Gehrig's 1,888, and Mantle's 1,677 and Berra's 1,174.
You look at the sluggers and it's hard to avoid Ruth. These guys were all great, but Ruth had more runs and RBI combined than any of them, while accounting for fewer batting outs Gehrig is his only comp as a hitter, with 3883 combined runs and RBI compared to the Bambino's 3930. But Ruth made about 4700 outs at the plate, while Gehrig made almost 5300. Mantle can't compete against those two--he accounted for about 5700 outs while scoring and driving in 3186. Great numbers but not enough for this derby.
So it boils down to Ruth and Berra--they are different enough players that Berra can at least claim to hold his own as a far superior defensive stalwart.
But that's for tomorrow, as is the weeding down of the Yankee pitchers.