Everyone who follows baseball long enough has memories of a player burning brightly for their team for a short period and then never playing for the team again. Many players who put up good stats in a small sample size end up falling away because they get more playing time and they regress and/or get figured out. However, there are a handful of ones who never reach that status because, for one reason or another, they stop playing for the team before regression hits.
Here is a selection of ten Yankees who put up genuinely good numbers in a small sample of games but then didn’t play for the team again after that. For hitters, we kept it to players that played 20 or fewer games as Yankees and for pitcher, we choose a guy who made three starts. Feel free to share some memories or your favorite very short time great Yankees.
Catcher: Erik Kratz
I know it seems like he should be over the 20 game limit, but he just squeaks in with exactly that number. In his first stint with the Yankees in 2017, he went 2-2 in four games and appeared that he would go down as the team’s all-time batting average leader (minimum of one at bat) at 1.000. However, he returned to the organization in 2019 and was called back up in 2020. He put together some solid hitting numbers, and became a fun veteran presence in general.
First Base: Chris Parmelee
Anyone who remembers the six games of Parmelee probably won’t forget them because of how wild they were. In eight at-bats in 2016, he went 4-8 with two home runs and a double, putting up a 1.875 OPS and a 374 OPS+. The run ended with him getting injured and he never made it back the majors, and hasn’t played any organized baseball since 2019.
Second Base: D’Angelo Jiménez
Here’s one that goes in the “what might’ve been” pile. A top 100-ish prospect, Jiménez made his MLB debut for the Yankees in September 1999. He came up and raked in seven games, hitting .400/.478/.500, and looked like he might be one for the future. That offseason, he was injured in a car accident and ended up missing the entire 2000 season. The Yankees traded him in June 2001, and while he went on to have an eight-year major league career, he never reached the potential he showed in his brief Yankee tenure.
Shortstop: Jerry Royster
Having led the AL East for a decent chunk of the season, the Yankees were starting to fall behind when they acquired the veteran infielder Royster. He went 15-42 in 18 games down the stretch, but the Yankees came up short in the division and Royster was released before the 1988 season.
Third Base: Mickey Klutts
Klutts did the most in the fewest games of any hitter on the list, putting up 0.5 Baseball Reference WAR in just eight games as a Yankee. He did so across three seasons before being traded for Gary Thomasson in 1978. Other than a solid season as a bench player with the A’s in 1980 and a good small sample size run the next year, he wasn’t particularly great after leaving the Yankees. Those eight games as a Yankee make up the majority of his career WAR, as he would be in the negatives without them.
Left Field: Bob Seeds
Mr. Seeds is a World Series champion, having appeared as a pinch-runner in a game for the Yankees in the 1936 Fall Classic. That appearance actually didn’t go well, as he was caught stealing to end Game 5 with the Yankees down a run in the 10th inning. The Yankees were up 3-1 in the series and won the next day to clinch the title. Prior to all that, Seeds OPS’ed .912 in the 13 regular season games his Yankees’ career is comprised of.
Center Field: George Whiteman
Whiteman had an odd career, debuting with the Boston Americans (Red Sox) in 1907, not making it back to the majors until 1913 with the Yankees, then not appearing in the bigs again until 1918, where he helped Boston win a World Series. His brief middle stint with the Yankees saw him go 11-32 with four extra base hits in 11 games.
Right Field: Greg Allen
His inclusion might lead to some angry takes about why the Yankees should’ve kept him because his cameo in 2021 was pretty good. He accumulated 0.4 B-Ref WAR in just 15 games, with an OPS of .849.
Designated Hitter: Jesús Montero
Deep prolonged sigh. Montero has the biggest WAR of any hitter on this list, having accumulated 0.6 Baseball Reference WAR in his 18 games as a Yankee. In his brief cameo as a September call up in 2011, he hit .328/.406/.590 with four home runs, seemingly giving us a taste of what was ahead for the highly rated prospect. Instead, he was traded for Michael Pineda that offseason in what goes down as a fairly sad deal for all sides.
Pitcher: Rich Beck
Not only did Beck have a short Yankees’ career, but it was also the entirety of his major league career. He came up in September 1965 and was impressive in three starts, including throwing a complete game shutout against the Tigers. After that, he was held in high esteem in the Yankees’ organization, but he was drafted into the military after the season and missed the next two years. He went back to the minors upon returning in 1968 but struggled and was released the next year after a slow start in ‘69.