That’s A Good Question….

With the Pinstripe Captain reaching his 3000th hit in such ‘Grand’ fashion (as any New York scripted Yankee milestone would be), there has been a lot of talk, blogging and general conversing on where he ranks all-time for the game’s most historic team.

This tidbit is lifted from www.thepostgame.com :

Where Does Derek Jeter Rank On The List of Greatest Yankees Ever?

Written by: Steve Henson

Now there are six.

The greatest New York Yankees have long been counted on one hand. Babe Ruth is the unquestioned No. 1, after which the order is debatable but not the names: alphabetically, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle.

Add Derek Jeter to the mix.

Jeter became the first Yankee to accumulate 3,000 hits in pinstripes when he hit a solo home run off Tampa Bay lefty David Price in the third inning Saturday in the Bronx. Jeter, who just returned after spending three weeks on the disabled list with a calf injury, singled in the first inning for No. 2,999. In his next at-bat, Jeter ripped a full-count slider from Price into the leftfield seats.  And despite the recent cyber-trend to disparage Jeter’s game and accomplishments, he deserves mention alongside the best to play for baseball’s most storied franchise.

Precisely where does he rank? From a poetic standpoint, No. 2 would be the perfect perch. Cue a tape of Bob Sheppard to make the announcement:

“The shortstop, number 2, Derek Jeter, number 2.”

But that’s a difficult case to make. To eclipse every Yankee except Ruth, Jeter would need to bounce back offensively through 2013. He’d need to change positions so his deficient range at shortstop recedes into memory. And the Yankees would need to win two more World Series with Jeter a driving force through those postseasons.

Today, though, Jeter has gained entry into the land of the elite. A Fab Five is now a Sparkling Six.

Here’s our list, in reverse order. Class, grace and a certain “Yankee-ness” count. So do stats. Only accomplishments with the Yankees are considered.

It all adds up to “greatness,” an admittedly imprecise blend of hard numbers and subjective notions.

6. Yogi Berra

Berra was part of a major league record 10 World Series champion teams, was named American League Most Valuable Player three times and played the most demanding position on the field. He also developed an iconic oracle-like persona with his fractured speech and hilarious yet astute observations. And at 86, he’s not only the lone living member of the Sparkling Six besides Jeter, he still wears pinstripes. Berra anchored the team during its late-1940s and 1950s heyday, succeeding Hall-of-Famer Bill Dickey at catcher and playing alongside DiMaggio and Mantle. He has the fourth-highest Wins Above Replacement of any catcher in history.

5. Derek Jeter

Jeter’s stature and leadership are unsurpassed. His production in the media hellfire of the Bronx has been phenomenally consistent. His five World Series titles and overall postseason excellence set him apart from other active players. In 2001, his flip of a relay throw to home plate and his walk-off home run in Game 4 of the World Series are among the most memorable moments in Yankees history. Of course he’s slipping at 37: Mantle, DiMaggio and Gehrig were retired at that age. Yes, he’s made more outs and hit into more double plays than any other Yankee and he’ll probably pass Mantle for most strikeouts. One milestone begets others for the player with the most plate appearances, official at-bats, hits and stolen bases. Each category speaks to longevity, durability, toughness and resilience.

4. Mickey Mantle

Like DiMaggio, Mantle retired at age 36. Like Jeter, his defensive skills eroded with age and — in Mantle’s case — injury. But like Berra, Mantle played 18 Yankee seasons because he broke in at age 19. He and Willie Mays vied for the title of best player on the planet through the 1950s and much of the ’60s. The switch-hitting Mantle was AL MVP three times and he led the Yankees to 12 World Series, winning seven titles. He might have had more natural ability than any player ever, but he frittered away some of his talent partying. Who knows the numbers he could have amassed had he not been such a carouser? That question need never be asked of Jeter, who by remaining productive for two more seasons could swap places with Mantle.

3. Joe DiMaggio

The Yankee Clipper was the team’s most majestic player, and only Gehrig and Jeter approach his stateliness. DiMaggio’s greatest accomplishment is his record 56-game hitting streak. A close second is his nine World Series titles, behind only Berra in Yankee history. DiMaggio’s offensive numbers across the board are exceptional per season, but his career totals are lacking because he retired after 13 seasons, at least four fewer than the others on the list, primarily because he missed three years serving in World War II. At age 35 in 1950 DiMaggio had a stellar season that mirrored his career numbers. A year later his performance declined because of nagging injuries and he hung ’em up after helping the Yankees to one more World Series championship.

2. Lou Gehrig

As he was in the Yankees lineup from 1925 to 1934, Gehrig is immediately behind Ruth on the list of Yankee Greats. When the measure is a blend of batting statistics, World Series titles, impact on baseball, impact on New York, larger-than-life persona and unforgettable nickname, The Iron Horse noses out the rest of the pack. Gehrig’s greatness was perhaps best displayed after Ruth left the Yankees. Gehrig led the team to three more World Series titles for a total of six, and he batted .361 with a staggering 1.208 OPS in the postseason. His career was tragically cut short at 36 after 17 seasons because of the rare disease that bears his name.

1. Babe Ruth

Besides singlehandedly introducing home run power as the game’s most lethal weapon and gate attraction, Ruth also made the Yankees the greatest team in baseball. Before his arrival in New York in 1920, the franchise had a losing record. In Ruth’s 15 seasons with the Yankees, and for the next 30 years beyond his departure, they had only one losing season. His career offensive Wins Above Replacement of 143 is easily the franchise best and he holds the trifecta of highest batting average (.349), on-base percentage (.484) and slugging percentage (.690). Ruth won fewer World Series titles with the Yankees (four) than any of the others on this list. But he delivered, hitting 15 homers in 117 at-bats. .


 With all of these talks of greatness and stats to prove it.. it begins the question (again) of who may qualify for top five or six for the greatest Red Sox of all time.  Obviously, the list is started with the unquestionable Number One in Ted Williams (not bias just fact), but who falls in after that?  Yaz makes the list somewhere in the 2 to 3 range, maybe even a Jim Ed or Dewey… names like Fred Lynn or Jimmy Foxx may spring to mind, members of Million Dollar Outfield maybe?  Carlton Fisk would seem to be a thought, and even though many will list him as the greatest Sox catcher just ahead of ‘Tek, the fact remains, he spent more years of his career in Bleached Hose than Scarlett.  Of course, talk then drifts towards Cy Young, Roger Clemens (who judging by his weight and much of the court documents was clean while in a Boston uniform), Bill Lee, maybe even Tim Wakefield..?
This will require much more investigative effort.
Moving on to other thoughts….
It’s the All-Star Break and the Sox have taken over first place in the American League East.  Sure, it isn’t a commanding lead, but hell we’re leading the ‘Bombers and even a half game up is still up, so a whole game is all the better.  The Sox have a very good number of worthy players attending the Midsummer Classic either through voting, manager’s decision or replacement.  However it happens, congrats to them!
1B Adrian Gonzalez:  In his first year with the Boston Americans, A-Gon has made an easy case in his first half season to make the list of top five or six Red Sox of all time.  Though many said he started the season a bit cold and required a month or so to adjust to Fenway’s dimensions (he, Ortiz and Lowry the only ones hitting in the first month or so…), he easily established himself as the anchor of the team having a profound effect on not only the line-up but his teammates, Big Papi inparticular.  His standing as top-vote getter at first, beating out the likes of uber popular Pinstripe Mark Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera was indeed worthy.
DH David Ortiz: The last few seasons had not seen the kindest starts for Big Papi, however this year proved much different.  Either through improved conditioning, different mental approach or as he has said, a bit of both combined with the surprising mentoring from A-Gon, Ortiz has reinvented himself as the premier DH in the League and once again one of the most feared clutch hitters, far different than the questionable talk from BoSox management to end last season.  With this youthful resurgance, Papi & A-Gon could become a more historically feared tandem than Papi & Manny, giving the Sox yet another power driven throwback to Mantle & Maris.
CF Jacoby Ellsbury:  His name being such a well known one in The Nation, it’s often hard to remember just how long he’s been in the big leagues.  Having led the CF voting for a majority of the time, his loss to a returning Josh Hamilton (of the disabled list Hamiltons) was a bit sour, however his being pencilled in as a postion reserve is just as good. This marks Ellsbury first trip to the Midsummer Classic and is well deserved especially when looking at the injury plagued career setback known as the 2010 season.
3B Kevin Youkillis: Now, obviously Youk is not having his best year… he’s been taking a beating physically at the plate (foul balls, HBP, twisted ankles) and making an honest attempt to re-adjust to 3B while hbbling on and off the field… but he’s been doing it quietly and with his normal intense passion.  Often overlooked by the majority of the League, having been surrounded by names such as Ramirez, Bay, Ortiz, Lowell, Pedroia, Lester, Beckett and Papelbon, he’s made top five in MVP voting a few times but is annually deserving of a trip to the Midsummer Classic.
RHP Josh Beckett:  A few seasons ago, there was question if the Sox should even resign him, nevermind to the contract he actually got.  Last season brought even more of the same.  If he wasn’t fighting a plague of nagging injuries it was almost as if he was fighting himself… a bit of that comfortability that plagued The Rocket in his final few years in Fenway.  But Beckett, like Ortiz, has re-lit the fire and showed up to camp a few years younger and as a re-invented player.  Despite the flu and a few passed starts due to various ailments, he’s shown himself once again as an elite pitcher and an anchor in the (when healthy) Trifecta of Boston’s starting rotation.
Honorable mention should of course go out to Jon Papelbon.  Even though the ‘Tower of Terror” has hit a pothole or two along the way, he is enjoying a resurgence as a premier closer once more, putting the bumps and dropping velocity of the past few seasons behind him.
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