For all time New York Yankees have seen one of their own enter the Hall of Fame, more than a few have also been snatched.
Tea New York Yankees run the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Come on guys. We all know that to be true. The Bronx Bombers have 44 players and 11 leaders housed in Cooperstown’s sacred halls. Sure, it comes with some benefits, right?
Hal stone burner probably shows up and is shown in through a secret back entrance, a la Goodfellas. After walking through the basement, surrounded by official archives and memorabilia, he is shown to his exclusive table among other baseball elites, so he can watch Rob Manfred’s ventriloquist action.
OK nice. So the Yankees have not that a lot of power, but still. The team’s history speaks for itself and is represented as such in Cooperstown.
And yet, because voters are unstable by ever-changing standards, it’s hard for any true Hall of Fame Yankee greats to be properly honored. This year is of course no exception.
Roger clemens won a Cy Young and two World Series rings in pinstripes, but used steroids at a time when virtually everyone somehow spotted his 4672 career strike and 354 victories. Similarly, Andy Pettitte has the most winning seasons after a season for a pitcher, 256 wins, and his closest Bill James tie is CC Sabathia and Mike Mussina. And he’s not a Hall of Famer?
Fortunately, both men would eventually get their places, be it through author votes or the veterans committee.
However, these following New York Yankees legends can still get the hang of it, and that’s a problem.
Before Derek Jeter, it was Thurman Munson. The blue collar Ohioan debuted in 1969 and was the starting catcher the following year and took home AL Rookie of the Year. Munson later added an MVP trophy and two World Series rings as captain of the announced team.
Then Munson tragically died in a plane crash at just 32 years old in August 1979. The New York Yankees, from the clubhouse to fans in the stands, were completely gutted.
So is Munson a Hall of Famer? Well, that’s a good question. Only in numbers is the answer probably no. He was a .292 hitter with three gold gloves, but had only 113 home runs and 701 RBI over 11 seasons. These numbers do not scream quite elite.
But stay with me and think about the top of Munson’s career. Power-hungry prisoners like Johnny Bench were the exception, not the rule. Furthermore, Munson was a seven-time All-Star and still played at a high level before his tragic death.
Would Munson have finally reached 1000 RBI? Would he have suddenly hit a wall before going down massively?
Although 1979 was his last solid year, Munson was universally loved in baseball. He defined not only what it meant to be a Yankee, but a baseball player as a whole. He worked hard, played the game right and always put the team first.
If it’s not a Hall of Famer, why have a Hall of Fame at all?
Enter the Yankee Tavern before or after any game, and there will be people discussing how Don Mattingly Not being a Hall of Famer is a travesty. That’s it for sure, as he spent his entire 14-year career with the Yankees and hit.
On top of that, there was a time when Donnie Baseball was the best first baseman in the game. From 1984-1989, he beat .327 and made six All-Star teams, winning the AL title in 1984 and the MVP a year later. Mattingly also averaged over 26 homers and 114 RBIs per season during this stretch.
Unfortunately, chronic back pain robbed Mattingly of his power from 1990, and he never hit more than 17 homers during a season the rest of his career. Nevertheless, he was still a strong contact hitter and elite player, he won nine total gold gloves and chopped over 1000 career RBI.
Let’s be honest, guys. Don Mattingly’s career numbers would be more indicative of a Hall of Famer if it were not for injuries. Meanwhile, Kirby Puckett was laid off and played two years less, had fewer home runs and RBI, and also retired due to a career-ending condition.
Puckett may have two World Series rings for Mattingly’s zero, but still. Mattingly dropped the ballot last year, and must now trust that veterans or modern time committees get their respect long ago.
Can anyone say, “snub?”
Speaking of Mattingly, let’s talk about the man who succeeded him at first base. Martinez was acquired by the Seattle Mariners before the 1996 season and was a contributor to the New York Yankees dynasty that followed.
On top of the four World Series rings he won in the Bronx, Tino Martinez was just what New York needed. His left turn was perfect for Yankee Stadium’s short porch in the right field. 192 of his 339 home runs in his career were in pinstripes, as was more than half of his 1,271 RBI.
And yet, his big game was overshadowed by playing in a golden age for the American League’s first basemen. Future Hall of Famers Frank Thomas and Jim Thome were his contemporaries, as were Steroid Era stars Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.
However, Tino Martinez made a disastrous appearance. He was an absolute cornerstone of the New York Yankees in his prime.
But without fancy stats or awards, the Hall of Fame refuses to give him a proper shake.
The Bernie Williams Hall of Fame case is interesting. He only played in five All-Star Games and never finished higher than seventh in the MVP poll. He hit 30 home runs in a season just once. His five World Series rings and the batting title in 1998 were greatly aided by playing in a stacked New York Yankees lineup.
But like teammate Andy Pettitte, Williams was a playoff stud. He posted a .275 / .371 / .480 line in the post-season, and his 22 home runs are second only to Manny Ramirez.
Now imagine that Williams posted a WRC + north of 100 in all but four of his 16 seasons. His wOBA career is .373, just 11 points behind Hall of Fame contestant Ken Griffey Jr.
It’s also worth putting Williams next to another Yankees Hall of Fame outfielder, Reggie Jackson. Jackson is the all-time leader on strike after a batter and hit a modest .262 to go with 563 home runs. He also played five years longer, and his status as Mr. October was enough for voters to look past some clear shortcomings.
Given how Bernie Williams’ numbers were buried in the steroid, he also deserves a plaque in Cooperstown.
The case for Cones’ Hall of Fame candidacy is interesting. He hit for 17 years and won five World Series rings to receive a Cy Young Award. Yet he was never really considered elite compared to other arms of his generation.
Cone ended his career with a 3.46 ERA and 2668 strike, but only 194 victories. Although he suffered some injuries, it is also important to note that he played on some bad teams during his career.
But it is a new era, and we all know that victories are meaningless. In addition, Cone struck at a time when pitchers were not micromanaged more than a Dunder-Mifflin office party. He took the mound and did not strike until the job was done. At the New York Yankees, he was the ultimate big game pitcher, taking with him four of his five World Series rings.
Oh, and did I mention the 2.12 World Series ERA?
If Jack Morris can be anchored with a higher total ERA and less strike, Cone should do the same for his performance.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will announce its induction course in 2021 at 6:00 PM EST on the MLB Network. As we look forward to the possibility of a new class of Hall of Famers, ESNY looks back on some notable Mets and Yankees whose cases of induction are worthy of a new look.