The 2014 MLB All-Star Game is right around the corner and with it comes good news and bad news for Yankee fans. The good news is that Derek Jeter will be front and center, starting in his final All-Star appearance. What's more, rookie Dellin Betances will be making his debut in the midsummer classic after a lights out first half. On the flip-side, Masahiro Tanaka will not be able to flash his brilliance on Tuesday due to an arm injury and the Yankees are limping into the break. Injuries are piling up, the offense is still puttering, and it seems that they'll hover around .500 for the remainder of the season. To help ease that pain, let's take a stroll through Yankees history and imagine what their all-time All-Star team might look like.
Just like the 2014 AL All-Star squad, this team consists of 34 players, including 9 starters, 13 reserves and 12 pitchers. While there's no shortage of great players to choose from, the focus here is on players that spent a significant portion of their career as a Yankee and made a lasting impact on the team. Keep in mind this list is subjective, so be prepared to disagree.
Few would argue that one-through-four in this lineup are the four greatest players in franchise history. In this scenario, Mantle defers to DiMaggio and moves to left field. The most interesting choice here is probably Bernie Williams at DH and batting fifth. At his best, though, he was a high-average, high-on-base hitter with above-average power from both sides of the plate. He could certainly hold his own in the middle of this stacked lineup.
Nearly everybody on this bench was a fan-favorite in one era or another and had long, healthy, productive careers in pinstripes. And then there's A-Rod. Regardless of how he did it, though, or the blind eye that Major League Baseball turned towards him while it was happening, he's put together a decade's worth of Hall of Fame-level play in the Bronx. Robinson Cano is perhaps another disappointing addition to this team. Had he stuck around he easily could have catapulted himself into the starting lineup.
As good as this bench is, one could probably construct one just as good using an entirely different set of former Yankees. Hall of Famer Joe Gordon has a solid case to be a starter on this team ahead of any of the second basemen chosen. In the outfield, a Hall of Fame trio of Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, and Reggie Jackson would give anybody a run for their money. Alas, longevity and a more balanced skill set won out on this roster.
Yankees pitchers historically don't have anywhere near the reputation that their batters do, but there are still plenty of excellent options. What these starters lack in dominance they make up for with consistency and the ability to get the job done when it mattered most. As with the bench, there are also plenty of pitchers you could say were snubbed here, Allie Reynolds and Mel Stottlemyre chief among them. Of the more recent era, David Cone was chosen over Mike Mussina because of his significance as the key acquisition that sparked the Yankees' run of success in the mid to late 90's.
One trend that's evident from this team is the role Yankee Stadium has played in shaping the history of the franchise. As an asymmetric park with a short right field and deep left field, left-handed batters and pitchers are much better off playing there than right-handers as 15 of the 22 batters on this roster are either lefties or switch hitters while more than half of the starting pitchers are left-handed. Yankee greats are truly a product of their environment.
Let us know how you would change this roster in the comments below.