Putting the Champs in Context

Just how good were this year’s Yankees? With 103 wins, they were the 6th winningest team in Yankees history. By winning percentage, they drop to 18th. But those give us only a superficial glance at this team. Let’s look in a bit more detail to try and grasp its greatness.

The 2009 Yankees led the league in runs scored, hits, walks, home runs, OBP, SLG, and OPS. Their pitchers led the league in saves and strikeouts. Overall, this is a team with a dominant offense (OPS+ of 119) and an above-average pitching staff (ERA+ of 104). That is an objective look at this team, but teams are remembered much more subjectively. When assessing the greatness of a team, most fans, I suspect, point to the number of great players. How does this team do by that measure?

The Yankees have three Hall of Famers right now. Despite PED issues, A-Rod will cruise into the Hall of Fame, along with Jeter and Rivera. Jorge Posada will surely receive strong Hall of Fame consideration. He has been an excellent hitter, especially for a catcher, for the last 15 seasons. I think with 2 or 3 more good seasons, he could make the HOF. Andy Pettitte has already won 229 games and plays for the best lineup in baseball. His chance of winning more is quite good. Along with that, he leads this team in World Series appearances because of the 2005 Series with Houston. He will be hurt by PED issues and a high ERA. I think he will need 300 wins to make the Hall. Johnny Damon has 2,425 hits, putting him 3 to 4 seasons from 3,000. If he can stay healthy enough to reach that milestone, he will be another Hall of Famer. The rest of this team is too young to speculate about. Sabathia (28), Teixeira (29), and Cano (26), in particular, could all finish with great careers. All three could get hurt and be done by 2011. When they get into their mid-30’s, we can get a better grip on how they will be perceived long-term.

From this overview, this team should go down in history well. They have 3 Hall of Famers, and they will likely produce 2 or 3 more. Their lineup dominated the league, and their pitching was as good as it needed to be. To cement their legacy, though, they need to repeat.

How do you think this Yankee team will go down in history?

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One Comment on “Putting the Champs in Context”

  1. verdun Says:

    Well, if it’s strictly great players involved (and I agree it’s something that is considered–overly so in my opinion) then the greatest Yankee team is 1932 with the following Hall of Famers: Coombs and Ruth in the outfield; Gehrig, Lazzeri, and Sewell in the infield; Dickey catching; Ruffing, Gomez, and Pennock on the mound; a total of 9 (or 7 on the field at any one time). I can’t think of anyone who considers them the greatest Yankee team.
    Agree with you assessment of the current crop: 3 in (Jeter, Rodriguez, Rivera), 2 potentials (Pettitte, Posada), and a bunch of too young to know (Sabathia, Teixeira, Cano). Damon and Matsui are the unknowns for me. Both have been around a while, but haven’t won much (2 for Damon, 1 for Matsui), are overshadowed by teammates, and are getting old. Both are about to become full time DH’s, which precludes going to the NL and thus lessens their chance for playing time. Unfortunately they can’t be platooned at DH by the Yanks (they both hit left) and I’m not sure they’re going to get enough work to get over the statistical humps necessary to get into the Hall. I’m going to be most interested in Matsui, because of his Japanese record. Wonder how much it will factor in.

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