Top 10 Best NY Yankees Players of All Time

Top 10 Best NY Yankees Players of All Time

The New York Yankees are one of the most storied franchises in sports history, with a remarkable 27 World Series wins. The franchise has been around since the early 1900s, which means that they’ve had more than enough time to achieve mountains of success. Such a renowned franchise is bound to have some of the greatest players in Major League Baseball history, so continue reading to learn more about the ten best New York Yankees players of all time.

Who are the Best New York Yankees Baseball Players of All Time?

  1. Babe Ruth
  2. Mickey Mantle
  3. Lou Gehrig
  4. Joe DiMaggio
  5. Mariano Rivera
  6. Derek Jeter
  7. Yogi Berra
  8. Whitey Ford
  9. Bernie Williams
  10. Don Mattingly

1. Babe Ruth

  • 714 Career Home Runs (third most all-time)
  • 2,241 Career RBIs (second most all-time)
  • 1923 MVP
  • All-Time Leader in Slugging Percentage and OPS
  • Seven-time World Series Champion

George Herman “Babe” Ruth is one of the greatest players in the history of Major League Baseball, as he was the league’s first star and one of its biggest. The name Babe Ruth is still revered by baseball fans today due to his dominance and otherworldly accomplishments. In the fourth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, Ruth created a moment that would go down in baseball legend, as he used two fingers to point out at the center field wall before hammering the next pitch over the fence into the center field seats. Ruth was the first player in MLB history to hit 50 home runs in a season, 60 home runs in a season, 500 home runs in his career, 600 home runs in his career, and 700 home runs in a career. His dominance at the plate can not be understated. During his 15 seasons as a Yankee, out of his 22-year career, Ruth led the league in home runs 12 times, RBIs five times, runs eight times, slugging percentage 13 times, on-base percentage ten times, and total bases six times. He would retire as the all-time MLB leader in home runs, walks, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS. He was a force in the postseason as well. Perhaps Ruth’s most impressive feat is that he was also an outstanding pitcher before he joined the Yankees, having the best ERA in the MLB, while leading the league in games started and shutouts as a 23-year-old starter for the Boston Red Sox in 1916.

2. Mickey Mantle

  • Three-time MVP
  • 20-time All-Star
  • 1956 Triple Crown Winner
  • Seven-time World Series Champion

Mickey Mantle is one of the baseball greats despite his career being hindered by injuries he experienced long before making the MLB. The switch-hitting Mantle played his entire 18-year career for the New York Yankees, and he would be one of the best players in baseball as long as he was healthy during that time period. In 1956, Mantle had one of the greatest batting seasons of all time, as he would win the Triple Crown, leading the MLB with a .353 batting average, 52 home runs, and 130 RBI. He won the 1956 MVP, as well as the 1957 MVP and the 1962 MVP, while collecting top-three finishes for the 1952, 1960, and 1961 MVPs. Mantle hit 536 career home runs, which gives him the 18th most in MLB history. “The Mick” was a member of one of the greatest home run chases in MLB history when, during the 1961 MLB season, Mantle and teammate Roger Maris took turns smashing home runs in hopes of breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a single season. Although Maris would be the one to break the record, hitting 61 home runs in the summer of 1961, Mantle would finish with a career-high 54 home runs while batting .317.

3. Lou Gehrig

  • Two-time MVP
  • 1934 Triple Crown Winner
  • Seven-time All-Star
  • Six-time World Series Champion

Lou Gehrig might be most famous for his durability on the field, but that does not mean that he was lacking in ability or achievements. After a slow start to his career saw Gehrig get only 38 at-bats during his first two years, his fortunes changed due to Wally Pipp. Pipp, the current Yankees first-baseman at the time, elected to sit out a game in 1925, which opened the door for Gehrig to take over the starting duties at first base and never look back. “The Iron Horse,” as Gehrig was later known, started a then-record 2,130 games in a row before his streak was unfortunately broken due to his suffering from ALS. The Yankees featured a slew of other dangerous hitters in their lineup during Gehrig’s career, including Babe Ruth, which resulted in the lineup having a section of hitters referred to as “Murderer’s Row.” Gehrig hit over 100 RBIs in 13 consecutive seasons and crushed over 20 home runs in 11 consecutive seasons. He would win two MVPs during his career, although he likely should have won more, as he received only a fifth-place finish in 1934, the year he won the Triple Crown. He would record four other top-five MVP finishes.

4. Joe DiMaggio

  • Three-time MVP
  • 13-time All-Star
  • Two-time Batting Title Winner
  • Nine-time World Series Champion
  • 56-Game Hit Streak (MLB Record)

Joe DiMaggio was well-known for his performances both on the field, as he was one of the best players in the MLB during his time. DiMaggio was a cultural icon in New York, helping guide the Yankees to nine World Series victories in just ten trips. In 1941, he recorded a hit in 56 consecutive games, a feat of remarkable consistency that will likely never be broken. His career totals may not seem overwhelmingly impressive compared to many other Yankee greats, but DiMaggio had to spend three years in the prime of his career, ages 28-30, serving for the United States Military. He would be an All-Star in every single season that he played, and he would record ten top-10 finishes in the MVP, including three top-three finishes. He was respected and revered by teammates and opponents alike, perhaps due to his consistent dominance, as those nine World Series titles and ten top-10 MVP finishes came in just a 13-year career.

5. Mariano Rivera

  • 652 Career Saves (most all-time)
  • 13-time All-Star
  • 1999 World Series MVP
  • 2003 ALCS MVP
  • Five-time Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year
  • Five-time World Series Champion

Mariano Rivera is unanimously considered the greatest closer in MLB because he became the first player in MLB history to be voted to unanimously join the Baseball Hall of Fame back in 2019, something that no other player has accomplished. There are few words to describe Rivera’s dominance on the mound. Trevor Hoffman has the second-most saves in MLB history with 601, which is 51 less than Rivera, but outside of Hoffman, no other player in MLB history has more than 478 saves, nearly 200 less than Rivera. He was so remarkable in the regular season that he would have three top-three finishes for the Cy Young Award and six top-15 MVP finishes, despite only regularly pitching the ninth inning of games. The postseason was where Rivera truly shined, however. His unshakeable demeanor and slicing cutter allowed him to surrender just two home runs and one loss in 141 innings of postseason work, spread over 96 games. He has the most postseason saves of all time by a wide margin, with 42 total saves (the player with the second-most only has 18). “Mo” also has the best ERA in MLB postseason history, with an ERA of 0.70.

6. Derek Jeter

  • Five-time Gold Glove Winner
  • Five-time Silver Slugger Winner
  • 14-time All-Star
  • Five-time World Series Champion
  • 3,465 Career Hits (6th Most All-Time)

Derek Jeter was the face of Yankees baseball for just about two decades, and for good reason. The charismatic Jeter was named captain of the famed New York Yankees franchise in 2003, after making his debut in 1995 and continuing to win Rookie of the Year in 1996, while also playing a crucial role in the team winning four World Series in just five years. Number 2 was the definition of consistency, as he recorded over 200 hits eight times, hit over .300 11 times, made 13 All-Star games in a 14-year span from 1998 to 2012, and finished top-10 in MVP voting eight times. Derek Jeter was one of the best clutch players in MLB history, always seeming to make the big play just when it was needed, which earned him the nicknames “Mr. November” and “Captain Clutch.” In the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, Jeter performed “the flip” to prevent a run in one of the most remarkable defensive plays in baseball history. He also famously recorded “the dive” against the Boston Red Sox in the 12th inning of a game in 2004, which is one of the sport’s greatest examples of an athlete sacrificing their body to make a play. Only 33 players in MLB history have recorded more than 3,000 hits, while just three in history have hit a home run for their 3,000th hit: one of them is Derek Jeter. On July 9, 2011, in front of a wild New York crowd, Derek Jeter crushed a pitch from rising Tampa Bay star David Price over the wall in left field for his 3,000th career hit. In his final career game in 2014, Jeter would lead the Yankees to victory one last time with a walk-off single against the Baltimore Orioles.

7. Yogi Berra

  • Three-time MVP
  • 18-time All-Star
  • 10-time World Series Champion

Yogi Berra is an iconic household name, not just for Yankees fans, but for nearly every single baseball fan. He played in the MLB for 19 seasons, spending 18 of them with the Yankees before spending his final season as a Met. From 1946-1965, Berra was one of the best catchers and overall players in all of baseball. He was a charismatic leader that did what needed to be done behind the plate while also crushing the ball in a way that few other catchers ever could. He would retire with a .285 career batting average and 358 career home runs. His teammates claimed that he could hit any single pitch because of how he could, and would, mess with the pitcher’s mind even before stepping into the batter’s box. In addition to his outstanding play on the field, Berra was well-known for his wisdom and wacky sayings, many of which have stood the test of time and are even frequently used today, such as “it ain’t over ‘till it’s over,” among others. He would get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

8. Whitey Ford

  • 1961 Cy Young Award Winner
  • 1961 World Series MVP
  • 10-time All-Star
  • 6-time World Series Champion

Whitey Ford is, without a doubt, one of the greatest starting pitchers that the New York Yankees have ever put on the mound. He played a critical role in the Yankees’ dynasty that formed during the 1950s and 1960s. Ford played his entire career for the Yankees, unfortunately missing two seasons at ages 22 and 23 due to service in the United States Military. In his first 20 games, Ford would go 9-1 with a 2.81 ERA, finishing the season as runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. This momentum would continue throughout the rest of Ford’s career, and in the span from 1961-1965, he averaged 260 innings per season and recorded two top-five MVP finishes. At the end of his career, Whitey Ford retired as the New York Yankees’ all-time leader in wins, with 236. He also left the game with several other remarkable accomplishments, including a 2.75 ERA, a World Series MVP, six World Series titles, a Cy Young Award, ten trips to the All-Star Game, and the best ERA in the MLB twice. In 1974, Whitey Ford was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

9. Bernie Williams

  • Five-time All-Star
  • Four-time Gold Glove Winner
  • 2002 Silver Slugger Winner
  • 1996 ALCS MVP
  • 1998 AL Batting Title Winner

Bernie Williams played center field for the New York Yankees from 1991 to 2006. Standing at 6’2” and weighing 180 pounds, Williams was a fantastic hitter and an even better fielder. He retired after 16 seasons with the Yankees as a career .297 hitter, scoring 287 home runs and 1,257 RBIs, with two of his best seasons at the plate coming in 1998 and 2002, when he respectively won the AL Batting Title and Silver Slugger Award. His defense was also truly remarkable, as he ended his career with an impressive fielding percentage of .990. This unsurprisingly resulted in Williams winning five Gold Gloves during his career, in addition to the 1996 ALCS MVP award. During his career, Williams would make five All-Star Games and be a crucial part of four World-Series-winning teams in the Bronx. Despite his contributions to the Yankees, Williams has not yet been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but his number 51 has been retired by the Yankees.

10. Don Mattingly

  • 1985 MVP
  • Six-time All-Star
  • Nine-time Gold Glove Winner
  • Three-time Silver Slugger Winner
  • 1984 Batting Title Winner

Don Mattingly was the first baseman for the New York Yankees from 1982 to 1995, and he played a crucial part in forming the dynasty that would dominate the MLB through the mid-to-late 1990s. Mattingly was one of the game’s most dependable two-way players in Yankees history. Playing all 14 years of his career with the Yankees, he retired a career .307 hitter, with 222 home runs and 1,099 RBIs. The most impressive part of Mattingly’s game, however, had to be his defense. He had a career fielding percentage of .996, while making only 68 errors total. His fielding is in large part what allowed him to earn nine Gold Gloves, the 1985 MVP award, and be an All-Star six different times. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to have not yet made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and his accomplishments as a manager have only made that more outlandish.

Honorable Mentions

While these 20 players did not make the top 10 list above, their accomplishments as Yankees nevertheless deserve recognition, and they are listed here in alphabetical order by last name:

  • Robinson Cano
  • Bill Dickey
  • Joe Gordon
  • Ron Guidry
  • Rickey Henderson
  • Elston Howard
  • Waite Hoyt
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Tony Lazzeri
  • Roger Maris
  • Thurman Munson
  • Graig Nettles
  • Andy Pettite
  • Jorge Posada
  • Willie Randolph
  • Phil Rizzuto
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Red Ruffing
  • Bob Shawkey
  • Dave Winfield

FAQ

Who is the best NY Yankees player of all time?

Babe Ruth is arguably the greatest Yankee of all time, due to his overwhelming dominance in the sport, especially in comparison to his peers at the time. Ruth was the first player to ever hit both 50 and 60 home runs in a season, including 11 seasons with 40+ home runs with the Yankees. Mickey Mantle can also make a case as the greatest Yankee ever with his three MVP wins and several other top-five finishes. Mantle also won the Triple Crown in 1956, one of the most impressive feats in baseball. However, most analysts would still agree that Babe Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat,” is the greatest Yankee ever to take the field.

Which NY Yankees player holds the record for most home runs?

George Herman “Babe” Ruth holds the record for most home runs of the players to wear Yankees pinstripes during their career, with 659 long balls in pinstripes. Ruth mashed 714 home runs over his 22 -year career, which was the most in MLB history at the time of his retirement in 1935, though the record has since been broken by both Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds. During his 15 seasons with the Yankees, Ruth would lead the MLB in home runs 10 separate times, and he never recorded fewer than 25 home runs in a season with the Yankees.