No team is baseball can match many of the New York Yankees’ all-time records. Their 27 World Series championships easily double the next best team (St. Louis Cardinals with 11). The “Evil Empire” is the most popular and polarizing team in MLB. New York has also been home to some of the very best athletes to ever set foot on a baseball diamond. With the benefit of the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) statistic, lets look at the top five players in Yankees’ history.
(Note: These rankings are based solely on each players WAR during their career with the Yankees. All WAR statistics are from Baseball Reference. The batting statistics can be accessed here, and the pitching information can be found here.)
5) Derek Jeter: 1995-2014 (Career Yankees WAR: 72.4)
- Career Stats (20 years): 11,195 at bats, 1,923 runs, 260 home runs, 1,311 RBI, 358 stolen bases, .310 BA
- Yankees Stats (20 years): Jeter played his entire career with the Yankees.
There is no better proof of the Yankees dominance than the fact that Jeter barely cracks their list of top five greatest players. The Captain is the team’s all-time leader in plate appearances, hits, singles, doubles, stolen bases, and games played. The 14-time All-Star led New York to five championships during his storied career. He also ended the Yankees 13-year playoff drought by leading them to the LDS in his rookie season. The team would make the postseason in 16 of his 20 seasons.
4) Joe DiMaggio: 1936-1942; 1946-1951 (Career Yankees WAR: 78.1)
- Career Stats (13 years): 6,821 at bats, 1,390 runs, 361 home runs, 1,537 RBI, 30 stolen bases, .325 BA
- Yankees Stats (13 years): Jeter played his entire career with the Yankees. He missed the 1943-1945 seasons due to military service.
DiMaggio’s nine World Series titles are more than 26 MLB franchises have in their history. The 13-time All-Star won a championship in each of his first four seasons. He is most famous for his illustrious 56 game hitting streak in 1940 that has stood for nearly 80 years.
3) Mickey Mantle: 1951-1968 (Career Yankees WAR: 110.3)
- Career Stats (18 years): 8,102 at bats, 1,676 runs, 536 home runs, 1,509 RBI, 153 stolen bases, .298 BA
- Yankees Stats (18 years): Mantle played his entire career with the Yankees.
During his career in New York, Mantle recorded 20 All-Star appearances and three AL MVP awards. He was a key part of 12 playoff appearances during his time with the Yankees. In fact, his team would advance to the World Series each time they made the postseason. They also won a total of seven championships. Mantle’s excellent hitting and fielding numbers make him one of the top centerfielders in MLB history.
2) Lou Gehrig: 1923-1939 (Career Yankees WAR: 112.4)
- Career Stats (17 years): 8,001 at bats, 1,888 runs, 493 home runs, 1,995 RBI, 102 stolen bases, .340 BA
- Yankees Stats (17 years): Gehrig played his entire career with the Yankees.
While Gehrig was a two-time AL MVP and currently stands as the Yankees all-time RBI leader. He helped begin one of the most dominate runs in the history of American sports. Gehrig was a part of the Yankees’ first championship during his rookie year. He would win a total for six World Series in his career, setting the Yankees up for a long run of success. Although his career and life were tragically cut short due to an ALS diagnosis, Gehrig was able to establish himself as an elite player.
1) Babe Ruth: 1920-1934 (Career Yankees WAR: 142.6)
- Career Stats (22 Years): 8,399 at bats, 2,174 runs, 714 home runs, 2,214 RBI, 123 stolen bases, .342 BA
- Yankees Stats (15 years): 7,217 at bats, 1,959 runs, 659 home runs, 1,978 RBI, 110 stolen bases, .349 BA
- Career Stats (10 Years): 147 games started, 94 wins, 2.28 ERA, 488 strikeouts
- Yankees Stats (4 years): 4 games started, 5 wins, 5.52 ERA, 5 strikeouts
According to WAR, Ruth stands alone on the list of all-time Yankee legends. Despite playing only 15 seasons in New York Babe is the team’s record holder in batting average, on base percentage, runs, total babes, walks, and home runs. Like Gehrig, Ruth was a part of the team’s first championship run. He won seven World Series titles (four with the Yankees). He also still holds major league records for career OPS (1.164) and Slugging Percentage (.609).
- Yogi Berra (59.5)
- Mariano Rivera (56.3)
- Whitey Ford (53.5)
- Alex Rodriguez (54.2)
- Andy Pettitte (51.4)