What was the best team in Yankees’ history?
There’s so much excitement surrounding the 2018 regular season with it being right around the corner. Because of the potential of the 2018 squad, fans are a little bit more giddy than usual this time of year. The reason being, this team could be one of the best Yankees teams we have seen in a very long time, which raises the question, which one is the best ever?
There are a few teams that come to mind. Let’s start with the 1927 Yankees. That lineup was named murderers row for a reason. It was a year that saw Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig have their best statistical seasons. Everything went right.
Gehrig hit .373 with 47 home runs and a monstrous 175 RBIs. Stats that are very hard to come by unless you’re Babe Ruth that is. That year, Ruth would break the single season home run record of 59 set by who other than Babe Ruth six years prior. He hit 60 that season. For those sabermetric fans out there, that equates to a 12.4 WAR for Ruth and 11.8 for Gehrig which is incomprehensible.
Their outfield combined to hit .350. No, that’s not a typo. The team itself hit .307 and pitched to an ERA of just 3.20. Granted it’s hard not to do well with six hall of famers on the roster, but that’s more of a reason why they’re one of the best Yankee squads ever assembled. It also helps to win 110 regular season games followed by winning the World Series.
Twelve years later, the Yankees would experience another remarkable season. One which also can be considered their best. However, it’s for a reason other than their statistics or record.
The year was 1939. It was only a handful of seasons after Ruth’s quick decline, that as a result, saw him ultimately finish his career with the Boston Braves in 1935. Lou Gehrig, a beloved Yankee and probably the best first baseman in baseball history, at 36 was forced to leave the game.
He was one year removed from driving in over 100 runs and only two removed from his typical MVP caliber season. If it wasn’t for ALS causing his body to deteriorate, he could’ve put together a few more of those seasons. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be.
Although Joe DiMaggio had an incredible season in just 120 games hitting nearly .400 (.381) with 30 homers and 126 runs batted in, the Yankees were faced with a difficult and emotional task. They had to play through the shock of the incredible sudden loss of Gehrig while trying to win their first championship without either him or Ruth in the lineup.
The Yankees faced that task head on and they dominated. They went on to win 106 games and four more in the World Series over the Cincinnati Reds. Although on paper, it seemed that this team sailed right to a championship, it wasn’t as simple as that.
Finally, it’s the team you’ve all been waiting for and expecting. The one that some of us were actually able to witness, the 1998 Yankees. They are probably the most interesting team of the bunch. Instead of having one or two guys putting together MVP type seasons, they had many players who were having very solid seasons.
The team high in home runs was just 28 by Tino Martinez. However, there were a number of players right on his heels. Bernie Williams had 26 while both Darryl Strawberry and Paul O’Neill hit 24. They would’ve had six players hit 20 or more home runs but Scott Brosius and Derek Jeter finished one shy of that mark.
On the other side of the ball, the Yankees’ pitching was a much better reflection of their record. The team ERA seems high at 3.82 but keep in mind, this was the heart of the steroid era in the American League East so in this case, Adjusted Earned Run Average or ERA+ is a much better measurement.
ERA+ more accurately portrays a pitcher’s performance because it takes external factors into effect such as ballpark size and opponent and bases it off of the league average ERA. For ERA+, the average is 100 with 120, for example, being 20% better than league average. The Yankees’ ERA+ in 1998 was 116 which was third in Major League Baseball that year.
They set, what was at the time, a new American League record with 114 wins. A record that would be broken three years later by the 2001 Mariners. That club won 116 regular season contests.
However, there was a significant difference between those two clubs.
The Yankees would coast through the postseason and eventually sweep the Padres in route to their 24th championship. When you include their eleven postseason wins with those 114 regular season wins, their total becomes 125, a mark that no other team has ever reached. The 2001 Mariners on the other hand were eliminated in the Championship Series by none other than the Yankees of course.
It’s extremely difficult to pick just one of these teams. You can even make a case for teams that weren’t even mentioned above. There’s really no right or wrong answer, but the point of this article is to pick the best so let’s get to it.
This may shock a lot of people and probably won’t be popular amongst readers, but I’m putting the 1998 Yankees in the three spot. I know all that team did was win but the names on that team aren’t as impressive as the names on the other two teams and neither are the individual stats. Yes, winning 114 games is absurd, but wins alone aren’t enough for me to put them any higher. Considering the Yankees’ history, that’s far from an insult.
In the two spot, it’s the 1939 Yankees. It wasn’t easy for them considering Gehrig’s abrupt departure from the game due to ALS. Because of it, this would be the first season without him or Ruth in the middle of the order since 1919. Guys like Joe Gordon, Bill Dickey, and Joe DiMaggio, who all had a great season, managed to get the Yankees to the top of the baseball world yet again which is why I have them at number two.
That leaves the 1927 Yankees. Is there really any other team more deserving of this spot? There are many teams that are interchangeable in the two, three or four spot and so on but there is only one team that truly belongs at the top.
That 1927 team is the definition of domination. From the lineup to the rotation, the numbers are absolutely mind boggling. This team not only is the best Yankees team of all time but also the best baseball team ever assembled, period. There will never again be a team quite like the 1927 Yankees.
1932 Yankees (Nine Hall of Famers)
1936 Yankees(Huge year from Gehrig, Dickey & DiMaggio; DiMaggio rookie year)
1961 Yankees (M&M Boys)
1978 Yankees (overcame 14.5 games back in July/ One game playoff win)
2009 Yankees (Ending a nine-year drought/ Last of five for core four)
Article by: Shawn Maguire