clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Picking a 25-man roster from the past 15 years of the New York Yankees

New, comments

The players were chosen based on one of their individual seasons in pinstripes from 2003-2017.

Aaron Judge homers against the Houston Astros in Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 17, 2017. The Yankees overcame a 4-0 deficit in the seventh inning to defeat the Astros 6-4.
Aaron Judge homers against the Houston Astros in Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 17, 2017. The Yankees overcame a 4-0 deficit in the seventh inning to defeat the Astros 6-4.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As we anxiously await the start of what promises to be a thrilling 2018 Yankees baseball season, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the standout individual performances of recent years. Countless outstanding players have donned the pinstripes over the last decade and a half. Not surprisingly, many produced seasons worthy of top-five finishes in the Cy Young and MVP Award balloting. It wasn’t difficult to put together a 25-man roster that I’d feel confident putting on the field against a similarly constructed team from any franchise in baseball.

The Starting Lineup

They are called the Bronx Bombers, after all. So I favored home run hitters in building the lineup, but not exclusively. The result was 335 homers and 1,022 runs scored from the starting nine. They hit a gaudy .294 with a .399 on-base percentage and .953 OPS. I tried to break up the lefties and righties like you would in constructing a real lineup. Having two switch hitters in the batting order certainly helped.

1. Derek Jeter (2006) - SS

The Captain led the major leagues with a 7.1 offensive WAR. He was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and won a Gold Glove en route to finishing second in the MVP voting behind Justin Morneau. Jeter also finished only four points behind Joe Mauer for the AL Batting Title. He’s the obvious choice to hit leadoff.

2. Aaron Judge (2017) - RF

All Rise broke the rookie home run record en route to being the unanimous AL ROY winner. He was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and was runner-up for both the Gold Glove and MVP Award. Judge primarily hit second, so I see no reason to change that.

3. Jason Giambi (2003) - DH

Giambi led the league in walks and HBP. He was an All-Star and finished thirteenth in the MVP voting. With his power and on-base abilities, Giambi is the perfect lefty to put in between Judge and A-Rod.

4. Alex Rodríguez (2007) - 3B

A-Rod led the league in homers, RBIs, runs scored, total bases, slugging average, and OPS. He was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and won his third MVP Award.

5. Mark Teixeira (2009) - 1B

Tex led the league in home runs, RBIs, and total bases. He was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove winner, and finished second in the MVP voting behind Joe Mauer.

6. Robinson Cano (2012) - 2B

Cano was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove winner, and finished fourth in the MVP voting behind Cabrera, Trout, and Beltre.

7. Jorge Posada (2003) - C

Posada was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and finished third in the MVP voting behind Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Delgado.

8. Hideki Matsui (2004) - LF

Godzilla was one of four MLB players to appear in all 162 games for their respective clubs. He was an All-Star and received down-ballot MVP votes.

9. Curtis Granderson (2011) - CF

Granderson led the league in RBIs and runs scored. He was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and finished fourth in the MVP voting behind Verlander, Ellsbury, and Bautista. You know you have a world-beating lineup when your number-nine hitter has a .916 OPS with 41 homers.

Starting Lineup

O Player Years B POS HR R H RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
O Player Years B POS HR R H RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Derek Jeter 2006 R SS 14 118 214 97 .343 .417 .483 .900
2 Aaron Judge 2017 R RF 52 128 154 114 .284 .422 .627 1.049
3 Jason Giambi 2003 L DH 41 97 134 107 .250 .412 .527 .939
4 Alex Rodriguez 2007 R 3B 54 143 183 156 .314 .422 .645 1.067
5 Mark Teixeira 2009 S 1B 39 103 178 122 .292 .383 .565 .948
6 Robinson Cano 2012 L 2B 33 105 196 94 .313 .379 .550 .929
7 Jorge Posada 2003 S C 30 83 135 101 .281 .405 .518 .922
8 Hideki Matsui 2004 L LF 31 109 174 108 .298 .390 .522 .912
9 Curtis Granderson 2011 L CF 41 136 153 119 .262 .364 .552 .916
TOTALS 335 1022 1521 1018 .294 .399 .554 .953
Credit: Table by Brett Borzelli, data provided by baseball-reference.com

The Bench

I went with a five-man bench, rather than seven in the bullpen. The team already has a backup first baseman serving as designated hitter in the starting lineup.

1. Gary Sanchez (2017) - C

The Kraken broke the Yankees franchise record for most home runs in a season by a catcher, previously shared by Yogi Berra and Jorge Posada (30). Sanchez was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and received down-ballot MVP votes.

2. Alfonso Soriano (2003) - 2B/OF

Soriano was a 30-30 man for the second straight year, hitting 38 home runs and stealing 35 bases. He remains the only Yankee to accomplish the feat in consecutive seasons.

3. Didi Gregorius (2017) - SS

Gregorius broke Derek Jeter’s single-season franchise record for home runs by a shortstop and finished twentieth in the MVP voting.

4. Gary Sheffield (2004) - 3B/OF

Sheffield was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and finished second in the MVP voting behind Vladimir Guerrero.

5. Johnny Damon (2009) - OF

If you remember the 2009 championship run, then you know why Damon is on this team.

Bench

Player Years B Pos HR RBI R BA OBP SLG OPS
Player Years B Pos HR RBI R BA OBP SLG OPS
Gary Sanchez 2017 R C 33 90 79 .278 .345 .531 .876
Alfonso Soriano 2003 R 2B/OF 38 91 114 .290 .338 .525 .863
Didi Gregorius 2017 L SS 25 87 73 .287 .318 .478 .796
Gary Sheffield 2004 R 3B/OF 36 121 117 .290 .393 .534 .927
Johnny Damon 2009 L OF 24 82 107 .282 .365 .489 .854
Credit: Table by Brett Borzelli, data provided by baseball-reference.com

The Rotation

It was surprisingly easy to settle on the five starting pitchers. Some had multiple outstanding years, though. It is truly a circular rotation. I present them simply in reverse chronological order:

1. Luis Severino (2017)

Of the 40 qualifiers who started for the Yankees over the last 15 years, Severino had the lowest ERA, best ERA+, and lowest triple slash line against during his 2017 campaign. His .603 OPS against was also the lowest by far, besting Tanaka (.645 in 2016), Mussina (.647 in 2003), and Sabathia (.653 in 2009). That’s right, Sevy was that good in a breakout year that saw him named to the All-Star team and finish third in the Cy Young Award balloting behind Corey Kluber and Chris Sale.

2. CC Sabathia (2010)

Sabathia finished third in the Cy Young balloting behind Felix Hernandez and David Price during the only 20-win season of his spectacular career. CC was an All-Star and finished thirteenth in the MVP voting.

3. Mike Mussina (2008)

Moose won 20 games for the only time in his career during his final season. The likely Hall of Famer won his seventh Gold Glove, while finishing sixth in the Cy Young balloting and nineteenth in the MVP voting.

4. Chien-Ming Wang (2006)

Wang led the league in wins and finished second in the Cy Young voting behind Johan Santana.

5. Andy Pettitte (2003)

Pettitte was a 20-game winner for the second time in his career and finished sixth in the Cy Young balloting.

Rotation

Player Years W-L G IP ERA WHIP FIP ERA+ K% BB% BA OBP SLG OPS
Player Years W-L G IP ERA WHIP FIP ERA+ K% BB% BA OBP SLG OPS
Luis Severino 2017 14-6 31 193.1 2.98 1.04 3.08 153 29.4% 6.5% .208 .266 .338 .603
CC Sabathia 2010 21-7 34 237.2 3.18 1.19 3.54 136 20.3% 7.6% .239 .301 .355 .656
Mike Mussina 2008 20-9 34 200.1 3.37 1.22 3.32 131 18.3% 3.8% .278 .310 .411 .721
Chien-Ming Wang 2006 19-6 34 218.0 3.63 1.31 3.91 125 8.4% 5.8% .277 .320 .375 .695
Andy Pettitte 2003 21-8 33 208.1 4.02 1.33 3.35 110 20.1% 5.6% .272 .312 .402 .714
Credit: Table by Brett Borzelli, data provided by baseball-reference.com

The Bullpen

Eight of the twelve best seasons by a Yankee reliever over the last 15 years were produced by Mariano. Nevertheless, D-Rob, Betances, and Miller also turned in dominant campaigns. Chad Green had a historically great season in 2017.

The Big Unit was the obvious choice to fill the role of long reliever and spot starter. How could you not want an intimidating, left-handed, flame-throwing Hall of Famer coming out of the pen?

Bullpen

Player Years SV G IP ERA WHIP FIP ERA+ K% BB% BA OBP SLG OPS
Player Years SV G IP ERA WHIP FIP ERA+ K% BB% BA OBP SLG OPS
Mariano Rivera 2008 39 64 70.2 1.40 0.67 2.03 316 29.7% 2.3% .165 .190 .233 .423
David Robertson 2011 1 70 66.2 1.08 1.13 1.84 399 36.8% 12.9% .170 .280 .226 .506
Dellin Betances 2014 1 70 90.0 1.40 0.78 1.64 274 39.6% 7.0% .149 .218 .224 .442
Andrew Miller 2015 36 60 61.2 2.04 0.86 2.16 200 40.7% 8.1% .151 .237 .239 .475
Chad Green 2017 0 40 69.0 1.83 0.74 1.75 250 40.7% 6.7% .147 .211 .242 .454
Randy Johnson 2005 0 34 225.2 3.79 1.13 3.78 112 22.9% 5.1% .243 .291 .408 .698
Credit: Table by Brett Borzelli, data provided by baseball-reference.com

There you have it, my all-Yankees team from 2003 through last season. Feel free to dispute my choices in the comments section below. If you want to have some additional fun, how about choosing 15 more players to fill out the 40? Remember, though, no duplicates. Choose only one year per player. Happy managing!