New York Yankees Now Have Best Infield in Their Storied History

March 1, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about Robinson Cano being the best Yankee second baseman in the history of the franchise.

That made me think about the rest of the infield. If you look at the numbers, this Yankee infield is the best that the New York Yankees have ever had.

When you consider overall talent, both offensively and defensively, there has never been an infield to compare to the one now assembled to play in the Bronx.

And the primary reason is the left side of the infield.

There is no serious doubt that Alex Rodriguez at third and Derek Jeter at shortstop will be Hall of Famers.

With Jeter, there is no question of his being selected on the first ballot.

Except for last year’s revelations that A-Rod had used steroids while with the Rangers, there would be no question about his first ballot choice either.

But they will both be in the Hall.

Now, look to the right side and you have two players who are still in the formative years of their careers.

Robinson Cano is just 27 years old and Mark Teixeira is only a few years older. But both have the potential to complete careers that will put them in the Hall of Fame.

Nobody in their right mind will argue that Mark Teixeira is the greatest player ever to hold down first base for New York.

Not with Lou Gehrig and Don Mattingly having put in time there.

Gehrig is in the Hall of Fame, of course and he is one of the immortal icons of the game.

Donnie Baseball would probably have made the Hall if his career and his stats had not been altered by injuries.

But Teixeira has a chance to put up the kind of numbers that will get him a plaque as well.

The points on Cano were made in the article yesterday and will not be repeated here.

What was amazing, as the research was being done, is how little talent the Yankees have had in the infield over the last 90 years.

Everyone knows the Yankees have had great catchers in Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Elston Howard,Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada. Posada is less than average behind the plate, but is one of the greatest hitting catchers ever to play the game.

And the outfield stars have been legend as well with Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams. Not all of them are Hall of Famers, but are great nonetheless.

But in the infield there has been a scarcity of great talent.

At second base, the Yankees have two Hall of Famers in Tony Lazzeri and Joe Gordon. But both were elected by the Veterans’ Committee and not by the writers.

At shortstop only Phil Rizzuto is in the Hall with a Yankee cap and he was also a Veterans’ Committee choice.

No Yankee third baseman is in the Hall of Fame.

When you look at the shortstops and third basemen who have played for the team, they really have not been all that good.

Beginning in the 1920s the Yankee shortstop was Mark Koenig. But he played only five-and-a-half seasons in New York.

The most notable shortstop after Koenig was Frank Crosetti who played 17 years for the Yanks and was the third base coach for many years after he quit playing.

But Cro only hit .245 and never had an OPS+ above 84.

Following Crosetti, the best was Rizzuto. But Scooter’s highest batting average was only .288.

Beginning with Rizzuto’s retirement in 1955 the Yankees had shortstops such as Gil McDougald, Tony Kubek, Horace Clark, Gene Michael and Bucky Dent before Jeter came along.

Some of those were very good players. Kubek was among the best but injuries forced him to an early retirement in 1965 when he was only 29 years old.

One thing that must be remembered is that shortstop was a different position in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. No one expected big numbers offensively from that position. What was wanted was a sure glove, quick hands and speed on the bases.

Most people credit Cal Ripken, Jr. for changing the image of shortstops forever and Jeter is in the Ripkin line, not the Rizzuto line.

The men who have toiled at the Hot Corner for the Yankees have been no more remarkable than the shortstops over the years.

Names like Joe Dugan, Joe Sewell, Billy Johnson, Bobby Brown, Andy Carey, Clete Boyer and Jerry Kenney fill up 50 years of Yankee games at third.

The names become a little more familiar with Graig Nettles, Charlie Hayes, Mike Pagliarulo, and Scott Brosius.

But there has never been a third baseman who came close to Hall of Fame numbers. Even Nettles never hit above .266 and never hit more than 32 home runs.

So when we consider the four players now in the infield, especially considering the shortstop and third baseman, the Yankees have the best infield they have every assembled.

And these just aren’t sluggers. They are also players who have piled up Gold Gloves and can be figured to earn more in the future. Only Cano has yet to get the credit he is due on defense, but that will be coming.

All you Yankee fans should make certain that you enjoy this group of Yankee infielders because there has never been a crew like them before.

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