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Ranking the best Yankees dynasties in history

Evidence suggests that there have been five periods of sustained success. Here is how I’d rank them

Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle Holding Bats

Even people without much knowledge about baseball are familiar with the fact that the New York Yankees are, by far, the most successful franchise in professional baseball. They are also the most profitable and widely known, and the brand has worldwide reach.

For a team that has won 27 World Series titles, you could expect quite a few “dynasties,” or prolonged periods of time winning championships. According to my count, the Yankees have had five different dynasties (listed in chronological order):

  • The 1920s and early 1930s - titles in 1923, 1927, 1928 and 1932
  • The late 1930s and early 1940s - titles in 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941 and 1943
  • The late 1940s and early 1950s - titles in 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953
  • The late 1950s and early 1960s - titles in 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1962
  • The late 1990s - titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000

Since we have some time on our hands, why not rank them?

Just to clarify, this is a subjective, personal ranking. I think that all those dynasties had something special and had an argument for the top spot, but here is how I view them, prioritizing dominance at the time of establishing each position:

5. The late 1950s and early 1960s

With Mickey Mantle starring in the show, the Yankees of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s were one of the top dynasties in baseball. The 1961 team is especially remembered for featuring the race between Mantle and Roger Maris to break Babe Ruth’s home run record, with the latter managing the feat.

Between 1956 and 1964, the Yankees won four titles in six World Series trips, and Mantle took home MVP honors three times in that span. Other notable performers in that dynasty were left-handed pitcher Whitey Ford, catcher Elston Howard and, of course, the great Yogi Berra.

4. The late 1990s

Ah, the late ‘90s Yankees. They could have easily rank first in this list just because sheer nostalgia, but I went for a more conservative fourth spot. This team featured the rise of several young stars, such as Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Andy Pettitte, coupled with veterans that were in the right place at the right time: Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius, David Wells, David Cone, Tino Martinez and company. The 1998 team was particularly dominant, winning 114 games in the regular season and sweeping Tony Gwynn’s Padres in the Fall Classic.

From Jeter’s late-inning heroics, Mariano’s dominance, Orlando Hernandez pitching style - and results - and Joe Torre’s calmness as the manager, we will remember this team for a long, long time.

3. The late 1930s and early 1940s

Six World Series titles in eight years. Achieving such a feat sounds virtually impossible in professional sports, but that team was special. Something else.

It was a clear transition between Hall-of-Fame generational talents: the 1936 Yankees played the first World Series without Babe Ruth and with Joe DiMaggio. Other Hall of Famers such as Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez, Tony Lazzeri, Red Ruffing, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Gordon and late-career Lou Gehrig played in this dynasty, led by manager Joe McCarthy.

In the four straight World Series victories, the Yankees had a 16-3 record, and they averaged 103 wins per year in the 154-game regular season.

2. The 1920s

When it comes to titles won, it’s hard to justify the Yankees of the 1920s being this high on the list. But those Yankees, led by Ruth and Gehrig, changed the way baseball was viewed and played. They were a league and half above everyone else in the early ‘20s. In fact, it is somewhat surprising that these Yankees “only” won three titles in the decade.

The Murderers’ Row team of 1927 is widely considered as the most dominant in the history of baseball. It featured Ruth and Gehrig in the prime of their careers, plus Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt and others, led by Miller Huggins.

1. The late 1940s and early 1950s

We have recency bias for the late ‘90s dynasty. We have the dominant 1927 Murderers’ Row and the late ‘20s Yankees, even though they won “just” three Fall Classics in the decade. But above all of them, we need to consider that the Bombers of the period between 1947 and 1953 won six World Series in seven years, including five straight between 1949 and 1953! Most teams haven’t even won five series in total.

Casey Stengel, as the manager, was the architect behind this powerful, dominant dynasty (although it is fair to note that Bucky Harris was the winning skipper in 1947 against the Brooklyn Dodgers, no less) that saw players such as DiMaggio, Berra, Rizzuto, Johnny Mize and two very young faces that would be part of another dynasty: Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle.

As always, let us know what you think about the best Yankee dynasties in the comments section.