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The Yankees All-Immaculate Grid Team

Making a full team of greats, journeymen, and “Yankee Legends.”

1988 Rickey Henderson Photo by Steve Crandall/Getty Images

In one of the latest additions to the daily game craze of the last few years, baseball fans have been treated to the Immaculate Grid. Though most readers of this site are probably at least familiar with it, it’s a three-by-three grid where each box has to be filled with a player that meets two criteria, whether they be teams, awards, or statistical accomplishments. As things have progressed, the goal for many hardcore fans has been to post the best rarity score, by picking the most obscure players. With the Yankees’ long and often successful run as a whole, they have employed some of the game’s greats, but also their fair share of journeymen and short-lasting pinstripers.

So, as someone who looks forward to playing every day, I thought it might be fun to make an All-Immaculate Grid team, filled with Yankees that are often useful when playing the game. It’s painful to give away trade secrets, but it’s a small price to pay in order to Remember Some Guys.

These may not be the absolute best answers in every spot, but I tried to keep a healthy mix of obscurity and surprising stars, because nothing is better than putting Rickey Henderson in a Padres/Angels box.

Catcher - Erik Kratz (2017, 2020)

The career-long backup and third-string catcher played 11 seasons in the big leagues, never topping 68 games. He may have had a career 65 OPS+, but he did enough to stick around for a decade, and to play for nine different organizations: The Yankees, Pirates, Phillies, Blue Jays, Royals, Astros, Brewers, Giants, and Rays.

First Base - Kendrys Morales (2019)

Where were you when Kendrys Morales hit a single home run for the 2019 Yankees? The slugging switch-hitter played in 19 games for that squad, and played for six others in what was a very nice 13-year career. As he collected 213 homers, a Silver Slugger, and a top-5 MVP finish, Morales also suited up for the Angels, Mariners, Twins, Royals, Blue Jays, and Athletics.

Second Base - Kelly Johnson (2014)

A personal favorite of mine for Grid purposes, Kelly Johnson made his way around the bigs in an easy-to-remember fashion. The utility lefty played for every team in the AL East, while also starting his career with the Braves, then the Diamondbacks (where he once hit 26 homers and had a 126 OPS+), and also spending some time with the Mets late in his career.

Third Base - Mark Reynolds (2013)

I was a big Mark Reynolds supporter growing up, and the home-run-or-bust infielder comes in handy quite often on the Grid. On top of his 36 games with the Yanks in 2013, he also spent time in Arizona (once hitting 44 bombs; keep that in mind for 40-homer hitter categories), Baltimore, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Colorado, and Washington.

Shortstop - Tony Fernández (1995)

I have spent enough time on the weird Yankee teams of the 2010s, so Fernández is a valuable and slightly older name that can be of use. Throughout his underrated career, the infielder reached five All-Star Games (TOR, SD), won four Gold Gloves (TOR), and spent time with six other teams on top of his stint with the Yanks: the Blue Jays, Padres, Mets, Reds, Cleveland, and the Brewers.

Outfield - Kenny Lofton (2004), Rickey Henderson (1985-89), Gary Sheffield (2004-06)

The outfield is where this team gets its star-power. Lofton, a Hall-of-Fame caliber player, played a half-season with the Yanks in ‘04, but built up his trophy case and spent much of his career elsewhere. He actually began his career with the Astros, before moving on to Cleveland (where he won four Gold Gloves and went to several All-Star Games), Atlanta (another ASG), then to the White Sox, Giants, Pirates, Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, and Rangers.

Rickey Henderson is similar, as the all-time great made his way around a surprising percentage of the big leagues. His most significant stints were of course with the Athletics, then the Yankees, but he also played for the Blue Jays, Padres, Angels, Mets, Mariners, Red Sox, and Dodgers. On top of the many uniforms, the Hall of Famer also won an MVP, went to 10 All-Star Games, and topped 3,000 hits, for those statistical and award boxes.

Like his fellow outfielders, Gary Sheffield was one of the best of his era, but never quite settled down with one team. The iconic-swinging member of the 500 home run club spent time with Milwaukee, San Diego, the Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers, and Mets.

Starters - Bartolo Colon (2011), Mike Morgan (1982)

Now a stalwart in any “fan favorite” capacity, Bartolo Colon captured a Cy Young award, and was an All-Star four times. He started his career renaissance with the Yanks, but also suited up for Cleveland, the Expos, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Athletics, Mets, Braves, Twins, and Rangers.

Mike Morgan is among the lesser-known members of this squad, making his value to their mission all the greater. The righty pitched in the bigs for 22 seasons, and got his money’s worth in jerseys, playing for (deep breath) the Cubs, D-Backs, Dodgers, Mariners, Cardinals, A’s, Reds, Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Orioles, and Blue Jays.

Bullpen - Rich “Goose” Gossage (1978-83, ‘89), Octavio Dotel (2006)

I had to sneak in at least one actual Yankee great, and Gossage fits the bill. A member of the 300 save club and nine-time All-Star, Goose also played for the White Sox, Pirates, Padres, Cubs, Giants, Rangers, Athletics, and Mariners. Goose being a member of the 1994 Mariners feels deeply wrong.

Dotel, while not quite as decorated as his ‘pen-mate, stuck around for 15 seasons, and is kind of the quintessential Immaculate Grid answer. Can’t think of anyone for a space? Dotel is a legitimately good guess. Along with his brief pinstriped stint, the righty played for the Mets, Astros, A’s, Royals, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers, Rockies, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Tigers.

There are no perfect answers to any box on the grid, and there is no ideal way to play. There are seemingly endless answers to some of these prompts, which makes the game fun every time. The joy of remembering a Morgan Ensberg, or Doug Mientkiewicz, is part of what makes being a fan such an enjoyable thing for me, and I will surely be using these “Yankee greats” in many Grids to come.