Overvalued Yankees of the past
The Yankees have a long list of Hall of Famers who have taken the field wearing the fabled pinstripes. However, for each Ruth, Mantle and Gehrig, there are such names as Gaylord Perry, Randy Johnson and Ivan Rodriguez. Each a Hall of Famer in their own right, but each with a completely different New York tale to tell.
Of course, I cannot name Jose Canseco and his one glorious 2000 World Series at bat, resulting in a K looking, but PED's and the HOF is a different story.
Being a Yankee for even one game puts the player in a special club - I’m looking at you Dustin Fowler - but being a model of winning for the last century or so does result in some players being inflated by the stigma of the pinstripes. Some players just sound or look great in the pinstripes, but in many cases their contributions have been overrated.
|Photo Credit: ESPN|
EDITOR'S NOTE: The players listed below are not necessarily considered overvalued for their career body of work. Rather, this piece touches upon the contributions of these players as Yankees.
Catfish Hunter was a great pitcher. His signing of a five-year contract with the Yankees, which opened the doors to modern-era Free Agency - and made him the highest-paid player in the game - signaled to the baseball world that the Yankees were ready to bounce back from the doldrums of a post-dynastic hangover.
1975 produced Hunter’s fifth consecutive 20-win season during his career and the first of two All-Star selections as a Yankee. The 23 wins and 328 innings pitched dipped to 17 and 298 while maintaining his All-Star status in 1976. However, as the Yankees won World Championships in 1977 and 1978, Hunter was a highly paid and not often successful piece with pedestrian 12 and nine win seasons before bottoming out in 1979 with two wins and an ERA of 5.31.
Catfish was an all-time great pitcher for the Oakland A’s and for two seasons with the Yankees. His single World Series victory on three pennant-winning and two Championship Yankee teams, however, keep him from all-time great Yankee status. His cap in Cooperstown is undesignated. It should not be debated. It should be an A’s cap. The A’s retired his number #27 (Catfish wore #29 for Yankees). A heck of a pitcher for the A’s, a great man to show the way in helping to bring in Goose and Reggie, but simply put, he was overrated as a pitcher for the Yankees.
Bobby Richardson is one of the classiest and best people to ever put on any baseball uniform, let alone the Yankee pinstripes. The clean-living, religious man from South Carolina stood out from the fast living and hard drinking Yankee teams of the 50’s and early 60’s. Richardson was selected to eight All-Star games. Eight! That is more than any Yankee except for seven. More than Ruth, Gehrig, Mattingly, Jackson and most other Yankees with their numbers retired. Richardson manned Second Base for 12 years on seven World Series teams. He also averaged over 600 ABs per year with an OBP of less than .300. His average season of four HRs, 45 RBIs and a .266 average with single digit steals is not the quality of player you'd expect to have the eighth most ASG appearances in Yankees' history. Against the best pitching in all his ASGs, he only managed one hit for an anemic .091 batting average. The Bobby Richardson Yankee love and even Hall of Fame consideration by the Veteran’s Committee is misplaced. Richardson was a serviceable part on some amazing teams, but the reality is that his contributions are overvalued and inflated by the teams he was on.
I spent so many hot summer days bouncing a ball against a concrete wall as a child trying to look and field like Bucky Dent. I remember as kid listening to the radio as Dent crushed the ball over the Green Monster in 1978 to make him a compound modifier years before Aaron Boone would do the same, but was Dent really all that good? Not exactly.
To many a fan of the 1970’s and early 80’s, he was. He garnered two Yankee All-Star selections, and he even started the game once, but his batting average hovered around .250 and OBP hovered just south of .300. Speed or Defense? He averaged two stolen bases a season and never garnered a Gold Glove. Cool name and a super haircut and World Series MVP aside, I would rather have had Alfredo Griffin on those teams.
A contemporary example: Dellin Betances
Dellin Betances is a Yugo wrapped in a Mercedes Benz body. You look at him and you are marveled by a fastball averaging near 100-mph and a hook 12-6 curveball reminiscent of Dwight Gooden in his prime. Factor in that he is born and raised in New York City and you want to get hooked and start making space for a monument now. His four All-Star game selections are like the pretty tires on this car, but the Yugo engine keeps misfiring at all the wrong times. A huge man throwing gas loves to act like a Little Leaguer and wants to freeze each batter by being cute with a back-breaking curveball. Factor in his refusal to hold a runner on, however, and he is overvalued, and almost a hindrance to the current Yankees. Faith in Betances by the Yankees is dwindling. At this point, he is nothing more than an overvalued and potentially important trade chip to use soon.
His #1 is retired by the Yankees but his career body of work keeps him out of the Hall of Fame. He managed for five different teams for 16 years. He managed one World Series title as a manager and was never honored as AL Manager of the Year. His highest finish was fourth in the 1985 voting. His constant feud with owner George Steinbrenner and his players is what will be most remembered about Martin's Yankee tenure(s).
Article by: Patrick MontgomeryFollow @tdmonty Follow @BronxBomberBall