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Top 100 Yankees Honorable Mentions: Recent Years

A ring-less decade-plus has not been without its great players.

Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Our long-running offseason series on the Top 100 Yankees in franchise history has come to an end. But before we fully bid adieu to this project, we wanted to salute some more Honorable Mention Top 100 candidates who just fell short. As we’ve said multiple times, average voting margins were razor-thin, so it’s really just a rounding error that they weren’t included; do not read too much into it. On each of the next four days, we will briefly discuss six Yankees from different general eras who would’ve easily made a Top 125 list.
Enjoy! - Eds.


Over the course of the last 14 years, the Yankees have gone without a World Series ring, a prize that the franchise grew quite accustomed to in the late 1990s. They missed the postseason in 2013, ‘14, ‘16, and had their lowest win total (in a 162-game season) in over two decades in 2023. But it has not been all darkness and gloom.

Since that championship season of 2009, the Yankees have actually won the second-most games out of any team in baseball, behind the Dodgers. Though it hasn’t translated into ultimate playoff success, good baseball is good baseball, and the Yanks have generally been playing it. You don’t get there without a crop of excellent players, and although a few from recent years were featured in our Top 100, plenty of names were inevitably left off. So, let’s get right into honoring the best of the rest from the new millennium.

Didi Gregorius

Position: Shortstop
Born: February 18, 1990 (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Yankee Years: 2015-19
Yankee Stats: 660 G, 2,658 PA, .269/.313/.446, 97 HR, 360 RBI, 101 wRC+, 15.1 rWAR, 10.8 fWAR

As far as shoes to fill go, Derek Jeter’s are some of the biggest. Didi Gregorius did just that following the Captain’s retirement, despite just 191 mediocre big league games under his belt.

Sir Didi stepped in and almost immediately delivered above expectations. His first season in the Bronx was a forgettable one with the bat, but his solid defense at short kept him afloat. He followed it up in 2016 with a much-improved bat, and found his power, popping 20 homers. That was just a tease of what was next, as he mastered the short porch in right field to the tune of 25 and then 27 homers in 2017 and ‘18. He posted a 115 wRC+ in that span, and even received some (far) down-ballot MVP support. With a nearly impossible task in front of him, he answered with a string of excellent seasons, where he became a vital part of some excellent teams.

Gregorius did not shy away from big moments either. During the Yankees’ thrilling postseason run in 2017, he went yard to spark the comeback in the AL Wild Card Game against the Twins, and then clubbed two more bombs off Corey Kluber during the decisive ALDS Game 5 in Cleveland. Sir Didi was at the core of what made that team so enjoyable.

Hiroki Kuroda

Position: Starting pitcher
Born: February 10, 1975 (Osaka, Japan)
Yankee Years: 2012-14
Yankee Stats: 97 GS, 38-33, 6,200 IP, 3.44 ERA (117 ERA+), 3.68 FIP, 6.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 1.155 WHIP, 11.4 rWAR, 9.8 fWAR

After a successful 10-year run in Japan, Hiroki Kuroda made his MLB debut at age-33 with the Dodgers in 2008. He enjoyed four rock-solid seasons there, before signing the first of three consecutive one-year deals with the Yankees prior to the 2012 campaign.

Kuroda just kept that steady success coming following his arrival in the Bronx, and had some of the best years of his career. In three total seasons with the Yankees, Kuroda averaged 207 innings pitched (never less than 199), with a 3.44 ERA. Acquired as a part of new-look rotation in the same offseason the Yankees traded for Michael Pineda, Kuroda would be much more than a depth piece in the rotation. In fact, during his tenure in pinstripes, Kuroda’s 9.8 fWAR led all Yankee pitchers. Reliable and consistent, the Yankees could feel good about their starter every fifth day. He contributed in the big moments too, tossing 16 innings across two starts in the 2012 postseason with a 2.81 ERA.

Luis Severino

Position: Starting pitcher
Born: February 20, 1994 (Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic)
Yankee Years: 2015-23
Yankee Stats: 125 GS (141 G), 54-37, 727.1 IP, 3.79 ERA (113 ERA+), 3.73 FIP, 9.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.185 WHIP, 11.9 rWAR, 13.8 fWAR

As a premier part of the Baby Bomber core, Luis Severino has seen his peaks and valleys in pinstripes. The fiery right-hander made his debut as a 21-year-old in 2015, and started his career off in a flurry. His rookie campaign saw an excellent 62.1 innings of work, and after a step back in 2016, he would take off the following year.

In 2017, Sevy pitched a career-best 193.1 innings, with a top-notch 2.98 ERA and 3.07 FIP. He earned his first All-Star nod, and finished third in Cy Young voting, leading the way for an exciting Yankee team. 2018 would be just as good, as he managed about the same workload, with an improved 2.95 FIP, earning his second All-Star selection in his age-24 season. In 2017 and ‘18, he was truly one of the best pitchers in the sport, with an fWAR that sat behind only some of the greats of this era in Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale, and Corey Kluber.

His excitement on the mound was contagious, and it shined the brightest when the lights were as well.

Injuries began to stack up for Sevy, unfortunately, and he pitched just 18 innings over the next three seasons in wake of his extension. He rebounded quite well in 2022, with a 3.18 ERA in 102 innings, but 2023 was a disaster, and easily the worst year of his career. He found a new home with the cross-town Mets this offseason however, as he hopes to regain his captivating form on the bump.

Giancarlo Stanton

Position: Outfielder/Designated hitter
Born: November 8, 1989 (Panorama City, CA)
Yankee Years: 2018-present
Yankee Stats: 549 G, 2,317 PA, .243/.328/.484, 135 HR, 359 RBI, 122 wRC+, 8.3 rWAR, 7.9 fWAR

Perhaps the most polarizing player on this honorable mentions list, Giancarlo Stanton’s tenure as a Yankees has not quite gone to plan. After eight excellent seasons with the Marlins, culminating in a 59-homer MVP campaign, Stanton and his 13-year contract were shipped to the Bronx in a megadeal.

With sky-high expectations for Stanton, he was now paired with fellow alien slugger Aaron Judge, the odds to satisfy were never in Big G’s favor. His first season with the Yanks was a good one, where he hit 38 homers with a 128 wRC+ in 158 games. Sadly, he would not come particularly close to that many games again, to this point.

Outside of his brutal 2023, Stanton has produced when he’s healthy, it’s just that the “when” carries a lot of weight in that sentence. He played in just 41 games between 2019 and ‘20, and since then, has seemingly lost a step in the batter’s box. He can still hit a scorching moonshot like no one else, and realistically has been an important part of these recent Yankee years, even if it hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. He was an All-Star as recently as 2022 (winning MVP at Dodger Stadium), and when he’s right, Stanton is as fun to watch as anyone. So, Yankee fans will have to hope he can reclaim that form, like he did in his blazing six-homer 2020 postseason.

Gleyber Torres

Position: Second base/Shortstop
Born: December 13, 1996 (Caracas, Venezuela)
Yankee Years: 2018-present
Yankee Stats: 734 G, 3,008 PA, .267/.334/.454, 123 HR, 378 RBI, 116 wRC+, 14.4 rWAR, 13.8 fWAR

The next Baby Bomber alum on this list is former top prospect Gleyber Torres. He was brought in from the Cubs during the 2016 trade deadline in exchange for Aroldis Chapman. Torres made his big league debut with the Yanks two seasons later, and properly burst onto the scene. His rookie campaign saw him sporting a 121 wRC+ with 24 homers in 123 games, en route to making the All-Star team. 2019 was even better for the budding star, as he belted a whopping 38 homers (sorry, Orioles), and made another All-Star squad to set expectations for his future about as high as they could possibly go.

Since then, he has had the curse of being just pretty good. He has not shown the future-MVP promise the Yankees once saw, but he has been quite good! In the four seasons since his massive 2019, he’s managed a 112 wRC+ while typically averaging out to a two-win player each year. Burdened by his massive early success, his solid production has likely been a bit underappreciated, but he has certainly done his part for Yankee teams of late.

DJ LeMahieu

Position: Second base/Third base
Born: July 13, 1988 (Visalia, CA)
Yankee Years: 2019-present
Yankee Stats: 606 G, 2,653 PA, .285/.358/.430, 73 HR, 276 RBI, 119 wRC+, 15.1 rWAR, 14.4 fWAR

Brought in as mostly a utility player, DJ LeMahieu suddenly turned into an MVP candidate during his time with the Yankees. The big righty was already a former batting champ and two-time All-Star with the Rockies, but he took things to a new level upon signing his two-year $24 million deal with the Yankees.

DJ’s first year in pinstripes was a resounding success, setting career highs in nearly every category. He blasted an uncharacteristic 26 home runs, with a 136 wRC+ and a star-level 5.9 fWAR. He made the All-Star team and finished fourth in MVP voting. He was a major part of their 2019 postseason run as well, as he slugged .625 in their run to Game 6 of the ALCS. He also produced the last moment where I can remember jumping out of my seat for a baseball game:

Had it not been cut short by the pandemic, 2020 may have been even better, as he slashed a monstrous .364/.421/.590 in 50 games, en route to a top-3 MVP finish and another batting crown. Since then, injuries have nagged at the veteran, and he’s returned much closer to the player he was prior to 2019. There are much worse things, but the Yankees have to hope for more after they signed him to another contract for six years after the 2020 season. But, either way, DJ has been and continues to be a vital contributor to these Yankee squads.

References

Baseball Reference

FanGraphs

The Baseball Cube - Hiroki Kuroda

Harding, Thomas. “Fan Favorite LeMahieu signs with Yankees.” MLB, January 11, 2019

Marchand, Andrew. “Sources: Yankees sign Hiroki Kuroda.” ESPN, January 13, 2012


Read more: Pinstripe Alley’s Top 100 Yankees
Other Honorable Mentions: Deadball Era; Older Dynasties; Newer Dynasties