New York Yankee Top 10s: The top 10 Yankee first baseman throughout history

This is another New York Yankees Top 10’s. This one looks back through history to reveal my top 10 Yankee first baseman. This is, of course, subjective. In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com.  Peak career performance and performance in postseason play were also a factor. Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration. In the next days and weeks, I will be examining all the position players, including the pitchers and catchers.

#10: Nick Etten (1943-1946)

Anchoring this list of best first basemen is Nick Etten. There are several similar players, but I choose Etten. The rest of the Yankee’s first basemen of the period are relatively unremarkable. I picked Etten even though he only played 4 years for the Yankees because he had a huge impact in his first year with the Yankees. He was a champion in the 1943 World Series; although he didn’t hit well, he was a formidable hitter for the Yankees during the mid-’40s. He had a .275 batting average and was an MVP candidate for three of his four years with the Yankees.

#9: Joe Pepitone (1962-1969)

Joe Pepitone was a bit of a character but was an excellent defender at first base for the Yankees for seven years. The Yankees signed him in 1958 at age 17. In four years, he was called up to the majors. He was the three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover. During 1963 he hit 27 homers with 89 RBIs. The following year he hit 28 homers with 100 RBIs. Pepitone was very aware of his appearance and was a bit of a lady’s man. He was the first every Yankee to bring a hairdryer into the clubhouse.

#8: Wally Pipp (1915-1925)

For almost a decade, Wally Pipp manned first base for the New York Yankees; the famous Lou Gehrig replaced him. When he started on first base, he was just 22 years old. Back during a time when the game was not known for home runs, he led the league in home runs with 12 in 1916 and nine in 1917. But the best was yet to come. Pipp amassed 833 RBI and 1,577 hits in 11 seasons in the Bronx. He was an important part of the Yankee’s first World Championship in 1923.

#7: Chris Chambliss (1974-1979) (1988)

In his time with the Yankees, Chambliss had an All-star and Gold Glove Award to his name. From 1975-to 1979, Chambliss turned into an important part of two Yankee World Series championship teams. In 1975, he hit .304 with 38 doubles. The following three years, he had a cumulative AVG of .285 and averaged 15 HR and 92 RBI per season, earning an All-Star selection in 1976 and a Gold Glove award in 1978. Chambliss is most known for his walk-off homer in the 1976 ALCS, causing the Yankees to win the pennant. In a famous video, the Yankees fans poured onto the field.

#6: Jason Giambi (2002-2008)

Jason Giambi could have been higher on this list if he had stayed longer with the Yankees. He had a .404 on-base percentage with the Yankees, fourth all-time. He had 209 homers over six years with 604 RBIs. In his first season as a Yankee, he won a Silver Slugger Award, batting .314 with 41 homers and 122 RBIs. Giambi could have been an even better player for the Yankees, but he had several injuries from a tumor to parasites. In game 7 of the Boston 2003 ALCS, he set up Aaron Boone’s pennant-winning homer.

#5: Mark Teixeira (2009-2019)

During his time with the Yankees, he hit 206 home runs over the nine-year span. Yankees fans were amazed at some of the plays he made at first base. His best years with the Yankees were his first three years. He won World Championship in 2009. In 2009 he was also an MVP candidate, an All-Star, Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger. In 2010 and 2011, he was again a Gold Glove and MVP candidate. After 2012 his production was sapped with several injuries, but his defense at first remained first class.

#4: Tino Martinez (1996-2001) (2205)

Tino Martinez could easily be number 3 on this list if he played longer for the Yankees. He is fourth all-time in RBIs (739) among Yankee first basemen. He appeared in four Yankees World Series. During his Yankee career, he had 192 home runs batting .276. His most productive season was 1997 when he batted .296 with 44 home runs and 141 RBIs, better stats than he had with his other four teams. That year he also was a Silver Slugger and won the home run derby.

#3: Bill “Moose” Skowron (1954-1962)

The “Moose” was a seven-time All-Star and a four-time World Champion while with the New York Yankees. His World Series performances during his career resulted in seven home and 26 RBIs. Skowron became the starting first baseman in 1958 and remained there for the next four years. Besides being an excellent defender, his muscular physique appearance at the plate made opposing pitchers tremble.

#2: Don Mattingly (1982-1995)

You can argue with any of my placements, but my number 2 and number 1 first baseman leave little room for argument. “Donnie Baseball” is one of the all-time great baseball players in any position. He manned first base for the New York Yankees for 14 years. To this day, he remains one of the most popular Yankees of the modern era. He won nine Gold Gloves and would be in the Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for his back injury at age 29 that held back his power at the plate.

#1: Lou Gehrig (1923-1939)

Lou Gehrig is undeniably the best New York Yankee first baseman of all time, possibly the best first baseman to ever play the game. From 1925 to 1939, he played in 2,130 consecutive games, a Yankee record. Lou Gehrig may have been the Yankee’s most durable player ever. The great defensive first baseman drove in at least 100 runs a season for 13 straight seasons.

In 1931 he recorded an American League record of 185 RBIs. His lifetime batting average of .340. He had two MVPs and the Triple Crown in 1934. The power hitters’ career was cut short in 1939 when he came down with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which later became known as Lou Gehrig disease. In a matter of just months, Gehrig could play no more. On July 4, 1939, he made one of the most famous speeches in baseball history, telling the jam-packed Yankee Stadium fan that he was “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” It would be the last time Yankee fans would see their favorite first baseman.

The “Iron Horse’ as he was known, died just eighteen days before his 38th birthday on June 2, 1941. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. The hall set aside the waiting rules to immediately induct him. Derek Jeter in 2009 passed his record hits of 2,721, but Gehrig still holds the record for most consecutive games played and the most triples in franchise history with 163 over his career.

 

7 New York Yankees that should be in the Hall of Fame but aren’t, what do you think?

The New York Yankees history is riddled with great players, many of which have a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Frank “homerun” Baker, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, and so many more. The most recent inductees are #2 Derek Jeter and of course Mariano Rivera, the first player ever to be enshrined unanimously. But even with all these many Yankee fans think that their favorite player should be in the Hall as well. Today we look at just seven of those that are usually mentioned as snubbed of the ultimate recognition.

Graig Nettles: Career bWAR 68.0. A third baseman was one of the best to man the hot corner ever, making impossible play after impossible play. He was as slick as they come. He was a steady hitter with all of his five teams, the Twins, Indians, Yankees, Braves, and Expos. He won two Gold Glove awards at third base and appeared on six All-Star teams. His slash line of .248/.329/.421 with a 110 OPS+ across his career would be the lowest if ever selected, but his 390 home runs were the third-best in baseball history for a third baseman. “Puff” helped the Yankees to titles in 1977 and ’78. Nettles’ glovework in Game 3 of the 1978 Fall Classic against the Dodgers remains one of the most recognizable exhibitions of game-winning defense ever. He was the 1981 AL Championship MVP.

As I said, Nettles had the third most home runs of any owner of the hot corner in all of baseball. He is only behind Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews, both of whom are enshrined in Cooperstown. Nettles has appeared on five Hall of Fame ballots, the most votes he received from the writers was in 1994 with 8.3%. There is a very strong case for him being in the Hall of Fame, what do you think?

Thurman Munson Career bWAR 46.1. Munson was one of the best Yankees catchers of all time, next to Bill Dickie and Yogi Berra. It appears his injuries that led him to only be with the Yankees for eleven years. It is something that the writers can’t forgive because he has been kept out of the Hall of Fame. Munson hit .271 with the Yankees and drove in over 700 runs. He was a warrior playing through several injuries until he was killed in his own plane while at home in Ohio. Most Yankee fans think the writers should put aside their belief that he didn’t play long enough and enshrine him. What do you think?

Andy Pettitte Career 60.7 bWAR. Few pitchers have ever reached the heights that Andy Pettitte did in the postseason. He was one of the most reliable big-game performers of his era, Pettitte was a five-time World Champion with the Yankees and a three-time All-Star. He joined Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada as members of the “Core Four.” Pettitte pitched to a 256-153 record with a 3.85 ERA (117 ERA+) across his career. That includes a three-year stint with the Astros from 2004-06. He returned to the Yankees in 2007, having winning seasons in all six remaining years. He was 14-8 during the Yankees’ last World Championship season in 2009.

He is one of six pitchers to win 250 games that are not in the Hall of Fame. This big difference with Pettitte is that he is the most winning pitcher to ever pitch in the postseason. He has 19 postseason wins. In 2020 he achieved 11.3% of the vote, far below what is needed, but this tremendous success in the postseason is sure to keep him in the conversation for years to come. What do you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaoyULBUQUc

Alex Rodriguez Career bWAR 117.5. A-Rod completed his 22-year career with 696 home runs, fourth all-time behind Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714). His WAR alone states that he should already be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. He was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player who collected 3,115 hits, Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and two-time Gold Glove winner. For the Yankees, he played twelve years in pinstripes from 2004. With the Yankees, he had a .283/.378/.523 slash line with 351 homers, 1,096 RBIs, a 136 OPS+, and 54.0 bWAR while winning his only World Series title in 2009.

Rodriguez is on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2022. This marks a candidacy that presents an opportunity for voters to weigh his best in baseball stats against a suspension related to performance-enhancing drug use that cost Rodriguez the entire 2014 season. His candidacy will test the writer’s will when it comes to drug-related stats.

Roger Clemens Career bWAR 138.7. The “Rocket” was the best pitcher of his era. He won 354 games in the majors during his remarkable 24 years while with four MLB teams. He was a seven-time Cy Young Award winner which should be an automatic entry to the Hall of Fame, but he, like Alex Rodriguez, has a tainted career due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs. In 2020 he had his best showing, just falling short of enshrinement with 61% of the vote. Since first named in a report that he took drugs, Clemens has consistently and defyingly denied using PEDs.

He spent the second most years of his career with the New York Yankees. During that time, he amassed an 83-42 record with an ERA of 4.01 in 175 games with three complete games. In wins, he ranks 12th all-time and sixth among current Hall of Famers. What are your feelings? 

 

Bernie Williams Career bWAR 49.6. In his sixteen years with the Yankees, he had a career batting average of .297 with 287 home runs with 1597 RBIs. Williams was the center fielder during the height of the Yankees’ dynasty from 1996-to 2003; the Bronx Bombers won 4 World Championships and six pennants during those eight seasons. William was often overshadowed by the “Core 4” of Pettitte, Rivera, Jeter, and Posada but was every bit as important to the Yankees in those championship years. There is a strong case for Williams being in the Hall of Fame, but the writers have scrubbed him off the list. He now becomes eligible for The Today’s Game Committee, which is one of the modern incarnations of Veterans Committee, the Hall of Fame’s “second chance” selection process. He will become eligible in 2023. Williams was a five-time All-Star, a six-time MVP candidate, and a four-time Gold Glover.

Don Mattingly Career BWAR 42.4. “Donnie Baseball” was one of the greatest hitters in baseball during his time. He spent all of his fourteen years in baseball with the New York Yankees. He was one of the best defenders at his position throughout his career. His career slash line was .307/.358/.471/.830. A .307 batting average over fourteen years is an amazing stat when you consider that there are dozens in the Hall with a much lower batting average.

The former Yankees great seemed to be well on his way to earning a place in Cooperstown in the late 1980s before a back injury derailed his career. Playing just fourteen years seems to cast doubt over his candidacy. After retiring following the 1995 season at the age of 34, Mattingly went on to receive just 28.2% of the vote in his first year on the ballot in 2001. He received enough votes to remain on the ballot for the maximum years but has never again reached that 28.2%. Working against Mattingly is the fact that the last several years of his career were nothing like his previous years due to a congenital disk deformity. He also was never on a World Series-winning team.

New York Yankee Legends: “Donnie Baseball” the case for Hall of Fame induction

The former New York Yankees’ great seemed to be well on his way to earning a place in Cooperstown in the late 1980s before a back injury ended his career and ultimately cast doubt over his candidacy. Although Mattingly was once again up for consideration for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as one of 10 finalists for induction on the 2020 Modern Baseball Era ballot, Mattingly failed again.

Most in baseball think of “Donny baseball” as one of the best Yankee hitters of all time, which he probably was. But what most miss is that he was perhaps the most excellent defender at first base, or any base ever, not just as a Yankee, but as a baseball player. In his fourteen years, his fielding percentage was .9959. That’s four misplayed balls out of 1000 sent his way. His offensive career ended up with an average of .307 with 222 home runs and three consecutive seasons of over 200 hits.

Mattingly the early years

Donald Arthur Mattingly was born on April 20, 1961, in Evansville, Indiana, the youngest of five children of Bill and Mary Mattingly in Evansville, Indiana. Mattingly’s introduction to baseball included backyard Wiffle ball. Because he was the youngest in the family, his brothers let him tag along to their neighborhood baseball games. Being the youngest, he would have to try harder than the other boys, and at his young age, he found that he could hold his own against the older players.

As a teenager, he attended Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville. He would excel in baseball, football, and basketball. He was the team’s starting quarterback. In basketball, he was the team’s point guard. But it was one American Legion baseball game that convinced Don that he was a baseball player. In a 1976 game against the neighboring town of Owensboro, Kentucky, he faced a pitcher who was the Cincinnati Reds’ top draft pick that year. Don, a freshman, hit two doubles off the star. From then on, people knew who Don Mattingly was. At one point, Mattingly helped Reitz Memorial to a 59-game winning streak, with one of those wins coming in the Indiana state championship game in his junior season. After that, he started getting letters offering scholarships.

Don credits his high school baseball coach to instilling a strong work ethic and always getting better. His coach would say to him, if you are the best on the team, you need to be best in the region; if you’re the best in the region, you need to be the best in the state, and then you start to think about the best in the country. Mattingly would recall that ethics helped him in minor leagues when he fought for jobs. Because he got so many scholarship offers, most scouts thought he would attend college. But the Yankees took a chance and drafted him in the 1979 draft at the age of 18, Mattingly accepted, and the Yankees signed him to a minor league contract.

Donnie Baseball in the minors and his Major League debut

Mattingly enjoyed almost instant success in the minor leagues, hitting .349 with the Oneonta Yankees of the Class-A (short season) New York-Penn League in 53 games in 1979. In 1980 he moved up to Greensboro, then on to AA Nashville. In 1981 he was promoted to AAA Columbus. There he hit .315 with 98 RBI’s. The performance was good enough to get him called up to the stadium when the roster expanded in September. He flopped miserably in seven games with the big club, hitting .167. As the 1983 season started, he made the team and appeared in seven at-bats before being sent back down to Columbus. After 43 games at Columbus, he was hitting .340, and when Bobby Mercer retired, he was called up to fill the position for the New York Yankees. He spent the rest of the year as a spot hitter, left and right fielder, and at first base.

In 1984, Yogi Berra was the new Yankee manager, and he would say that Donnie would be on the team, much to Donnie’s relief, as he wouldn’t have to wonder if he would make it. Berra believed he would best be used as a reserve player and a pinch-hitter because “he has the kind of stroke that enables him to sit for three weeks and still hit,” as Berra said. It took only a few weeks of spring training to change Berra’s mind. After a March in which Mattingly hit well and continued to show off his slick glove at first base, Berra announced that Mattingly would start the season as the regular first baseman. Donnie would never see the minor leagues again. In 1984 Mattingly would hit .343 with 207 hits with 23 home runs. He would be an All-Star. He didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the best season of his career.

Mattingly becomes a baseball star:

For the next five years, he would hit over .300 and establish himself as one of the game’s best first basemen. In 1985 he would have 147 RBI’s. As the season was coming to an end and the Yankees out of reach of the postseason, the media’s big New York Yankees story was the batting title race between him and Dave Winfield. With four games remaining and four right-handed pitchers to face, Lou Pinella gave the advantage to Mattingly. But for Mattingly, he would go only 1 for 7, and Winfield went upon him. But in the last game of the year, Mattingly would hit four hits in the game, winning the race. After the game, Winfield and Mattingly walked to first base and shook hands before a wildly cheering Yankee crowd.

Mattingly’s 1986 season was even more dominant than his MVP campaign the year before. He hit .352, with 238 hits, 53 doubles, 31 home runs, and 113 RBIs. He finished second to Roger Clemens that year in MVP voting. All in all, Mattingly would go on to play in six All-Star games, be nominated for the MVP seven times, winning it once, and would receive an unprecedented nine Gold Glove Awards. He would also win three Silver Slugger Awards. In the five years. 

After 1990 his performance would fall off considerably due to the injured discs in the back. However, most say he was still one of the best players in either league. Donnie would spend his entire 14-year career with the Yankees. He finished his career with 2,153 hits, 222 home runs, 1,007 runs scored, 1,099 RBI, and a .307-lifetime average. After he retired as a player, he would manage the Dodgers for five above .500 seasons. He then managed the lowly Florida Marlins, never having a winning season. He still works as the Marlins manager with the owner, fellow Yankee Derek Jeter.

He will always be “Donnie Baseball,” an all-time fan favorite of the Yankee faithful for Yankee fans. Many fans wanted him to replace Joe Girardi as Yankee manager. He got 28% of the vote in his first year of eligibility, failing to get enough votes, but it was enough to keep him on the ballot until 2015. After that, he never approached 28% again. Nevertheless, New York Yankees fans believe he should be enshrined.

Below are some video highlights of his illustrious career.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees Legends: Don Mattingly, is there a case for a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

The former New York Yankee’s great seemed to be well on his way to earning a place in Cooperstown in the late 1980s before a back injury ended his career and ultimately cast doubt over his candidacy. Don Mattingly was once again up for consideration for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as one of 10 finalists for induction on the 2020 Modern Baseball Era ballot, Mattingly failed again. Most in baseball think of “Donny baseball” as one of the best Yankee hitters of all time, which he probably was. But what most miss is that he was probably the greatest defender at first base, or any base ever, not just as a Yankee, but as a baseball player. In his fourteen years, his fielding percentage was .9959. That’s four misplayed balls out of 1000 sent his way. His offensive career ended up with an average of .307 with 222 home runs and three consecutive seasons of over 200 hits.

Mattingly the early years

Donald Arthur Mattingly was born on April 20, 1961, in Evansville, Indiana, the youngest of five children of Bill and Mary Mattingly in Evansville, Indiana. Mattingly’s introduction to baseball included backyard Wiffle ball. Because he was the youngest in the family, his brothers let him tag along to their neighborhood baseball games. Being the youngest, he would have to try harder than the other boys, and at his young age, he found that he could hold his own against the older players.

As a teenager, he attended Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville. He would excel in baseball, football, and basketball. He was the team’s starting quarterback. In basketball, he was the team’s point guard. . But it was one American Legion baseball game that convinced Don that he was a baseball player. In a 1976 game against the neighboring town of Owensboro, Kentucky, he faced a pitcher who was the Cincinnati Reds’ top draft pick that year. Don, a freshman, hit two doubles off the star. From then on, people knew who Don Mattingly was. At one point, Mattingly helped Reitz Memorial to a 59-game winning streak, with one of those wins coming in the Indiana state championship game in his junior season. After that, he started getting letters offering scholarships.

Don credits his high school baseball coach to instill a strong work ethic and always get better. His coach would say to him, if you are the best on the team, you need to best in the region; if you’re the best in the region, you need to be the best in the state, and then you start to think about the best in the country. Mattingly would recall that ethic helped him in the minor leagues when he was fighting for jobs. Because he got so many scholarship offers, most scouts thought he would attend college. But the Yankees took a chance and drafted him in the 1979 draft at the age of 18, Mattingly accepted, and the Yankees signed him to a minor league contract.

Donnie Baseball in the minors and his Major League debut

Mattingly enjoyed almost instant success in the minor leagues, hitting .349 with the Oneonta Yankees of the Class-A (short season) New York-Penn League in 53 games in 1979. In 1980 he moved up to Greensboro, then on to AA Nashville. In 1981 he was promoted to AAA Columbus. There he hit .315 with 98 RBI’s. The performance was good enough to get him called up to the stadium when the roster expanded in September. In seven games with the big club, he flopped miserably, hitting .167. As the 1983 season started, he made the team and appeared in seven at-bats before being sent back down to Columbus. After 43 games at Columbus, he was hitting .340, and when Bobby Mercer retired, he was called up to fill the position for the New York Yankees. He spent the rest of the year as a spot hitter, left and right fielder, and at first base.

When in 1984, Yogi Berra was the new Yankee manager, and he would say that Donnie would be on the team, much to Donnie’s relief, as he wouldn’t have to wonder if he would make it. Berra believed he would best be used as a reserve player and a pinch-hitter because “he has the kind of stroke that enables him to sit for three weeks and still hit,” as Berra said. It took only a few weeks of spring training to change Berra’s mind. After a March in which Mattingly hit well and continued to show off his slick glove at first base, Berra announced that Mattingly would start the season as the regular first baseman. Donnie would never see the minor leagues again. In 1984 Mattingly would hit .343 with 207 hits with 23 home runs. He would be an All-Star. He didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the best season of his career.

Mattingly becomes a baseball star

For the next five years, he would hit over .300 and establish himself as one of the game’s best first basemen. In 1985 he would have 147 RBI’s. As the season was coming to an end, and the Yankees out of reach of the postseason, the media’s big New York Yankees story was the batting title race between him and Dave Winfield. With four games remaining and four right-handed pitchers to face, Lou Pinella gave the advantage to Mattingly. But for Mattingly, he would go only 1 for 7, and Winfield went upon him. But in the last game of the year, Mattingly would hit four hits in the game, winning the race. After the game, both Winfield and Mattingly walked to first base and shook hands before a wildly cheering Yankee crowd.

Mattingly’s 1986 season was even more dominant than his MVP campaign the year before. He hit .352, with 238 hits, 53 doubles, 31 home runs, and 113 RBIs. He finished second to Roger Clemens that year in MVP voting. All in all, Mattingly would go on to play in six All-Star games, be nominated for the MVP seven times, winning it once, and would receive an unprecedented nine Gold Glove Awards. He would also win three Silver Slugger Awards. In the five years.

After 1990 his performance would fall off considerably due to the injured discs in the back. Most say he was still one of the best players in either league. Donnie would spend his entire 14-year career with the Yankees. He finished his career with 2,153 hits, 222 home runs, 1,007 runs scored, 1,099 RBI, and a .307-lifetime average. After he retired as a player, he would manage the Dodgers for five above .500 seasons. He then managed the lowly Florida Marlins, never having a winning season. He still works as the manager of the Marlins with the owner, fellow Yankee Derek Jeter.

He will always be “Donnie Baseball,” an all-time fan favorite of the Yankee faithful for Yankee fans. Many fans wanted him to replace Joe Girardi as Yankee manager. He got 28% of the vote in his first year of eligibility, failing to get enough votes, but it was enough to keep him on the ballot until 2015. He never approached 28% again. Nevertheless, New York Yankees fans believe he should be enshrined.

New York Yankees legend wins NL Manager of the Year

On Tuesday evening, the BBWAA named New York Yankees legend Don Mattingly the NL Manager of the Year. Mattingly guided the Miami Marlins to a 31-29 record, receiving their first playoff birth in 17 years.

The team dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak early in the year, sidelining the team for a week and losing key players for extended time. They were able to overcome that to finish in second place in the NL East.

Miami was the No. 6 seed in the National League for the postseason, paired against the Chicago Cubs in the first round. The Marlins stormed into Chicago and took the first two games 5-1 and 2-0 to advance to the NLDS.

Unfortunately for them, their luck would expire against the Braves. The Braves won games 9-5, 2-0, and 7-0 to eliminate the Marlins in three games. The end result was disappointing, but they were in a position that no one expected them to be in.

In 10 seasons as a manager, this award is the first for Mattingly. He began his managerial career in 2011 with the Dodgers, where he led the team to a winning record in each of his five seasons. However, a lack of postseason success led to Mattingly’s departure after the 2015 season.

The Marlins quickly snagged Mattingly that offseason, and were immediately on the verge of potential success. The team finished 2016 and 2017 just a few games under .500, only a couple pieces away from being a postseason team.

However, after the 2017 season, Derek Jeter bought the team and began unloading weapons to go into a massive rebuild. The team struggled mightily in 2018 and 2019, with 2020 being the organization’s first sign of success in the rebuild.

Under Mattingly’s lead, the Marlins will be a competitive team in 2021 and beyond. Congrats to Mattingly on the recognition for a successful season.

New York Yankees Legends: Don Mattingly, “Donnie Baseball”

The former New York Yankees great seemed to be well on his way to earning a place in Cooperstown in the late 1980s before a back injury ended his career and ultimately cast doubt over his candidacy. Don Mattingly was once again up for consideration for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as one of 10 finalists for induction on the 2020 Modern Baseball Era ballot. He was again denied, receiving only three votes.

Most in baseball think of “Donny baseball” as one of the best Yankee hitters of all time, which he probably was. But what most miss is that he was probably the most excellent defender at first base, or any base ever, not just as a Yankee, but as a baseball player. In his fourteen years, his fielding percentage was .9959. That’s four misplayed balls out of 1000 sent his way. His offensive career ended up with an average of .307 with 222 home runs and three consecutive seasons of over 200 hits.

Donald Arthur Mattingly was born on April 20, 1961, in Evansville, Indiana, the youngest of five children of Bill and Mary Mattingly, in Evansville, Indiana. Mattingly’s introduction to baseball included backyard Wiffle ball. Because he was the youngest in the family, his brothers let him tag along to their neighborhood baseball games. Being the youngest, he would have to try harder than the other boys, and at his young age, found that he could hold his own against the older players.

As a teenager, he attended Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville. He would excel in baseball, football, and basketball. He was the team’s starting quarterback. In basketball, he was the team’s point guard. But it was one American Legion baseball game that convinced Don that he was a baseball player. In a 1976 game against the neighboring town of Owensboro, Kentucky, he faced a pitcher who was the Cincinnati Reds’ top draft pick that year. Don, a freshman, hit two doubles off the star. From then on, people knew who Don Mattingly was. At one point, Mattingly helped Reitz Memorial to a 59-game winning streak, with one of those wins coming in the Indiana state championship game in his junior season. After that, he started getting letters offering scholarships.

Don credits his high school baseball coach for instilling in him a strong work ethic and the need always to get better. His coach would say to him if you are the best on the team, you need to best in the region if you’re best in the region you need to be best in the state, and then you start to think about the best in the country. Mattingly would recall, that ethic helped him in the minor leagues when he was fighting for jobs. Because he got so many scholarship offers, most scouts thought he would attend college. But the Yankees took a chance and drafted him in the 1979 draft at the age of 18, Mattingly accepted. And the Yankees signed him to a minor league contract.

Mattingly enjoyed almost instant success in the minor leagues, hitting .349 with the Oneonta Yankees of the Class-A (short season) New York-Penn League in 53 games in 1979. In 1980 he moved up to Greensboro, then on to AA Nashville. In 1981 he was promoted to AAA Columbus. There he hit .315 with 98 RBI’s.

The performance was good enough to get him called up to the stadium when the roster expanded in September. In seven games with the big club, he flopped miserably, hitting .167. As the 1983 season started, he made the team and appeared in seven at-bats before being sent back down to Columbus. After 43 games at Columbus, he was hitting .340, and when Bobby Mercer retired, he was called up to fill the position. He spent the rest of the year as a spot hitter, left and right fielder, and at first base.

When in 1984, Yogi Berra was the new Yankee manager, and he would see that Donnie would be on the team, much to the relief of Donnie, as he wouldn’t have to wonder if he would make it. Berra believed he would best be used as a reserve player and a pinch-hitter because “he has the kind of stroke that enables him to sit for three weeks and still hit,” as Berra said.

It took only a few weeks of spring training to change Berra’s mind. After a March in which Mattingly hit well and continued to show off his slick glove at first base, Berra announced that Mattingly would start the season as the regular first baseman. Donnie would never see the minor leagues again. In 84, Mattingly would hit .343 with 207 hits with 23 home runs. He would be an All-Star. He didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the best season of his career.

For the next five years, he would hit over .300 and establish himself as one of the best first basemen in the game. In 1985 he would have 147 RBI’s. As the season was coming to an end, and the Yankees out of reach of the postseason, the big New York story in the media was the batting title race between he and Dave Winfield. With four games remaining and four right-handed pitchers to face, Lou Pinella gave the advantage to Mattingly. But for Mattingly, he would go only 1 for 7, and Winfield went up on him. But in the last game of the year, Mattingly would hit four hits in the game, winning the race. After the game, both Winfield and Mattingly walked to first base and shook hands before a wildly cheering Yankee crowd.

Mattingly’s 1986 season was even more dominant than his MVP campaign the year before. He hit .352, with 238 hits, 53 doubles, 31 home runs, and 113 RBIs. He finished second to Roger Clemens that year in MVP voting. All in all, Mattingly would go on to play in six All-Star games, be nominated for the MVP seven times, winning it once and would receive an unprecedented nine Gold Glove Awards. He would also win three Silver Slugger Awards. In the five years.

After 1990 his performance would fall off some, but he was still one of the best players in either league. Donnie would spend his entire 14-year career with the Yankees. He finished his career with 2,153 hits, 222 home runs, 1,007 runs scored, 1,099 RBI, and a. 307-lifetime average. After he retired as a player, he would go on to manage the Dodgers for five above .500 seasons. He then managed the lowly Florida Marlins, never having a winning season. He still works as the manager of the Marlins with the owner, fellow Yankee Derek Jeter.

For Yankee fans, he will always be “Donnie Baseball,” an all-time fan favorite of the Yankee faithful. Many fans wanted him to replace Joe Girardi as Yankee manager. After the Miami Marlins dumped payroll by letting Giancarlo Stanton to become a New York Yankee, Mattingly has had he two worst seasons as a manager.  Last year the Marlins went 57-105.

New York Yankees: All-Time Starting Lineup/Bench

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

Most of these players contributed to the 27 World Series rings that the New York Yankees franchise has won. From World Series MVPs to record-breaking statistics, these players have done it all in the sport of baseball.

All-Time Starting Lineup/Bench

1. SS Derek Jeter

Jeter played all 20 seasons of his career for the Yankees and was one of 15 captains in New York Yankees history. He deserved to be the second unanimous hall of fame player but fell one vote short.

He had 650 1st-pitch hits, indicating he was aggressive at the plate, which makes a perfect leadoff hitter for this team.

2. LF Joe DiMaggio

A 56-game hitting streak is Dimaggio’s most popular call to fame, however, he did make the all-star team all 13 years of his career.

He hit over .300 in 11 out of 13 years at the highest stage, which is almost never seen in today’s baseball.

To top it all off, he served his country in WWII for three years.

3. RF Babe Ruth

“The Bambino” was the greatest display of power in the early 20th century and no one will forget when he “called his shot.”

His 714 home runs have kept him among the top three home run hitters for almost a century. He has the best slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ of all-time as well.

He is arguably the best all-around hitter ever and needs to be in the middle of this lineup.

4. 1B Lou Gehrig

He and Ruth were the best one-two punch of their era, if Ruth did not drive in the runs one game, Gehrig would put the “cleanup” in “cleanup hitter” and drive in the runs himself.

In 1931, Gehrig drove in 185 runs, which is the second-most for a single season in history, behind Hack Wilson, who drove in 191 runs a year prior.

Gehrig also won the triple crown in 1934, meaning he led the American League in home runs, RBIs, and batting average, a feat that only a few players have achieved in their careers.

5. CF Mickey Mantle

Following in DiMaggio’s footsteps, Mantle, led the New York Yankees to seven World Series titles. He won the triple crown in 1956, paving the way for his first MVP award.

Mantle was arguably one of the first five-tool players in baseball, as he led the American League in many batting categories, in a single season, at some point in his career and even won a gold glove award.

Behind Babe Ruth, Mantle is second on the all-time Yankees home run list.

6. 3B Alex Rodriguez

Although his best years were for the Texas Rangers, A-Rod won two MVPs as the Yankees’ third baseman.

Yes, he did admit to using steroids, but he was still one of the most feared hitters in baseball for almost two decades.

7. C Yogi Berra

Berra, won three MVPs, 10 World Series rings, meaning he has one for each finger, not even Tom Brady has reached that level of success.

Between his “Yogisms” and serving in WWII, he did all you can ask for of a man and a baseball player. He is the textbook definition of a legend in the game of baseball.

8. 2B Tony Lazzeri

There is an argument to have Robinson Cano in this lineup, however, Lazzeri’s Yankees tenure was longer and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also helped the historic teams of the 1920s and 30s win five World Series titles.

9. P Whitey Ford

This is just to fill a hole in the lineup without a DH, if there had to be a DH, a case could be made for Don Mattingly, Graig Nettles, or Dave Winfield, cannot go wrong with any of these players.

Ford was arguably the best pitcher in Yankees history and would be the opening day starter for this team.

Bench:

C Bill Dickey

He was Yogi Berra’s predecessor and helped the Yankees win seven World Series rings. An 11-time all-star and a hall of fame inductee earn his spot on this team.

1B/OF Don Mattingly

His best season was 1986 when he hit 53 doubles. Mattingly is a great pinch-hit option off the bench.

2B Robinson Cano

Cano got the assist on the final out of 2009 World Series game 6, which one the Yankees first World Series since 2000. He played all but one game that season and became a big part of the New York Yankees team in the early 2010s.

He is the only active player on this team, but his spot is well deserved.

3B Graig Nettles

Nettles led the American League in home runs in 1976, with 32. He is a fan favorite of the ’70s Yankees teams and needs to be on this team.

OF Dave Winfield

Last, but not least, Winfield had one of the best arms of any right-fielder ever. He would rack up double-digit outfield assist seasons a bunch of times in his career.

He also had middle-of-the-lineup production at the plate during his career, making him the perfect player to round out this team.

New York Yankees: A history of great Yankee first baseman

The New York Yankees in their rich history have had some really great players.  Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, just to name a few that have been impactful players in the Yankees 117 year history.  Over the years, the Yankee has had no shortage of fine first baseman.

1. Lou Gehrig:

Lou Gehrig is generally recognized as the Yankee’s most excellent first baseman of all time.  Gehrig for 17 years from 1923-1939 graced first base at Yankee Stadium.  Known for his fine hitting and durability at his position, he was called the “Iron Horse.”  He hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 runs batted in with a career batting average of .340. He still has the highest ratio of runs scored plus runs batted in per 100 plate appearances (35.08) and per 100 games (156.7) among Hall of Fame players.  Gehrig was not just a hitter; he provided stellar defense at first throughout his career.  At one point in his career, he played in 2,130 consecutive games.

Gehrig, as great a player he was for the Yankees he is also known for Lou Gehrig disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).  His 1938 stats were well of his 1937 performance, and he knew something was wrong, He was tired.  After a series of tests at the Mayo Clinic, the bad news was delivered to Gehrig.  On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig said goodbye to over 60,000 fans in the stands with his famous “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech.  The Hall of Fame Gehrig passed away at his home in the Bronx section of New York on June 2, 1941.  Career stats: 17 years .340 with 493 home runs.

2. Don Mattingly

Donny Baseball is one of the most popular Yankees ever, and my pick as the Yankees 2nd greatest first baseman. Don Mattingly spent his entire baseball playing days at first base at Yankee Stadium.  For fourteen years, he snagged balls and defended at first base.  He made his Yankee major league debut in September of 1982.  He became the full-time first baseman in 1984, a position he held until 1995.

Many thought Mattingly would become the Yankees manager.  That didn’t happen as Joe Torre was selected to manage the Yankees for the next eleven years.  Mattingly did manage, though.  He was a special instructor for the Yankee until 2007.  Before the 2008 season, he was hired to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers, a job he held for seven years.  In 2016 ex-Yankee Derek Jeter selected Donny to manage the Miami Marlins, where he still manages today.  Career stats:  14 years .307 with 222 home runs.

3. Tino Martinez

Constantino “Tino” Martinez is my pick for third-best New York Yankee first baseman.  Tino was not solely a Yankee; he played for the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1990 through 2005.

Tino was an excellent defender at first base.  From 1996-2001, the dynasty years, Tino was one of the most impactful players on the team.  He helped the team to four World Series in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000.  In 1997 he won the All-Star home run derby.  In 2002 Tino joined the Cardinals, and in 2004, he played a year with the Rays.  In 2005 Tino re-joined the New York Yankees.  During that year, at one point, hi hit five home runs in five consecutive games. Career stats: 16 years .271 with 339 home runs.

4. Mark Teixeira

Mark “Tex” Teixeira held down the first base position from 2009 to 2016.  Not only was he stellar at first, but he was also one of the most proficient switch hitters in baseball history.  In his first year with the New York Yankees, he led the team to their 27th World Championship.  Although he got them there, he didn’t play well in the Series, but in Tex style, he was clutch winning game 2 with a walk-off home run.

In 2009 he led the American League in home runs. On May 8, 2010, he became the second Yankee in history to hit three home runs in the same game. In 2011 he hit his 300th home run.  In 2015 Teixeira was named to his third All-Star game. In 2016 his final year before retirement, he hit two home runs in a game that also represented the 400th home run of his career.  Citing injuries and wanted to spend more time with his family, he retired after the 2016 season. Career stats:  14 years .268 with 409 home runs.

5. Chris Chambliss

Chris Chambliss is one of the most popular of Yankee’s first baseman.  Chambliss played for the Yankees from 1974 to 1979.  An excellent defender at first, he is mostly known for his walk-off home run in the 1977 World Series.  His walk-off was one of the most iconic moments in Yankee history.  Immediately after his World Series-winning hit, Yankee fans stormed the field making it impossible to reach home base.  When he reached the clubhouse, he donned a field worker’s raincoat and ran out to touch home plate. Career stats:  17 years .279 with 185 home runs.

Honorable mentions go to Bill Skowron 1954-1962, Jason Giambi 2002-2008, Joe Pepitone 1962-1969, Johnny Mize 1949-1953, and Wally Pipp 1915-1925.  I have excluded Mickey Mantle from this list.  Even though he was a fine first baseman, he was noted more for his outfield performance throughout his career.