Monday, June 16, 2008

Some More All-Time Team Members

Today, I wanted to have a look at the men who work around the keystone.

Second Base: The Yankees have never been known for great second basemen.
But that doesn't mean they haven't had some good ones since Poosh 'em Up Tony Lazzeri back in the '20's.
Horace Clarke was a decent player with good speed, and an ok glove. Hoss was good for around 20 doubles, and as many stolen bases along with a .256 average. These numbers are pretty poor by today's standards, but not that bad for the mid-60's. In 1968, Yastremski led the league with a .301 average, so .256 wasn't terrible. The league leader in doubles would hit 35 or so, and 40 HR would be enough to challenge for the HR title. But Horace isn't my guy.
Second is a tough choice because of these two guys, Willie Randolph, and Robinson Cano. It's hard to pick Cano because he only is in his 4th year. But he already has as many HR as Randolph hit in his 18 yr. career. He doesn't have the speed of Willie, who stole over 250 bases in his career. But this is a different Yankee team. This is a team built on power. Cano doesn't get the green light very often. Randolph has 2 rings as a player, again, it is hard to pick Cano over him. With the glove, they are both terrific.
What it comes down to is this: if I were going to start a team today, and had the choice of either player (pretending each was in their playing days, of course,) who would I choose, the man with the solid numbers in the bank, or the relative newbie with the upside?
I'm going with the kid. He has just shown so much in such a short time that I believe in a few short years, he will be considered as possibly the greatest Yankee second baseman of all time.

Shortstop: This is as close to a no-brainer as I can get. Gene Michael, master of the hidden ball trick? He was a really great (and tricky) fielder, but he was a .229 hitter with no power. But I did meet him and get his autograph at a charity basketball game over 30 years ago, so that did help raise him up in my assessment. He was a good guy.
Bucky Dent (Bucky F'ing Dent for my Red Sox readers) was a nice ballplayer who hit one of the biggest homeruns in Yankee history. It was one of the biggest in baseball history for that matter. He was a nice player who came up big in some big situations. He had a decent average in postseason play. He hit .349 in 2 World Series, both of which were won by the Yankees.

But my choice is the human highlight reel, Derek Jeter. The Captain (seems to be a theme) is possibly the greaytest Yankee shortstop of all-time, and he is most likely heading to the Hall of Fame as a first ballot inductee in about 10 years or so. Whether it is Jeter flying in the stands like Superman to snag a fly ball, or making a great play to nab an Oakland runner at the plate, or even belting a home run to win a playoff game, he has been right in the middle of every big event since he came to the team in 1995. It is more than a coincidence that the team has made the playoffs every year since his first full season in 1996.


Go Yankees

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Downtown, New Jersey, United States
Yankees fan. But the team hasn't been the same since Yogi retired. TV watching expert. Manly man.