This column is being written in response to Ryan’s earlier column on Mussina being a “True” Yankee. While I believe Ryan was being tounge-in-cheek about it, I despise the term “True Yankee”. To me, the term is used to pile on praise of guys who were part of the Yankee “Dynasty” like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius and Bernie Williams. It allows those players free passes when they have mediocre seasons and postseasons, while guys like A-Rod, Giambi, Sheffield and his fellow lineup mates got skewered mercilessly.
Let’s start with Brosius. Despite being a career .245 postseason hitter, he’s always been revered by Yankee fans ever since 1998. Now, he had a phenominal 1998 season and postseason, but let’s be honest, that team would have won with me at third base, and certainly would have won with A-Rod there. In 1999, he hit .247 and in 2000 he hit .230. While he had a good 2001, hitting .287, he went 8-57 in the postseason. He was a solid player who played hard, but frankly, he was below average to average with the exception of 1998.
Moving to Martinez, he was another great guy who put up some very good numbers for the Yankees primarily in the regular season. He was also a career .233 postseason hitter who managed only 9 HR’s in 356 AB’s. We all remember his 1998 Grand Slam against the Padres–and the severly underrated Mark Langston. We also remember he should have been called out on strikes the pitch before. That was his only home run, extra base hit and RBI that entire series.
Posada? He’s a career .236 postseason hitter with a .208 average in the World Series.
Now Bernie. Hey, I love Bernie. You love Bernie. He was there when things were ugly. And his overall postseason numbers aren’t bad. But he was absolutely worthless in the World Series, hitting .208, and unlike Posada, he played a premium offensive position (Center).
That six trips to the Series and five pretty dismal performances. Yes, the Yankees won some of these series, but often times, they were done in spite of the performances of guys like Williams, not because of them. If A-Rod put up these numbers, he’d be slaughtered in the press.
Guys like O’Neill and Jeter are tougher to find fault with, although I do think Jeter’s escaped criticism for what’s been a poor season–his BA, OBP and SLG are 20, 27 and 54 points lower than his career averages, and in an interesting development, O’Neill has a lower career average than the player he was traded for, Roberto Kelly (You can look it up).
I know we all look back at the glory days and see “professional, paitent” lineups and call those guys “True Yankees.” But the fact of the matter is, those Yankees hitters were often sub-par in the playoffs. They were good, sometimes very good hitters who, quite simply, failed to produce in the playoffs. They simply happened to be on Yankees teams that had better pitching than the rest of the league Winning a World Series does not a “True Yankee” make. Ricky Ledee, Mike Buddie and Hideki Irabu won two. Shane Spencer and Luis Sojo won three. We won’t be carving out plaques for them in Monument Park. True Yankees are media and fan inventions.
Ryan’s Quick Thoughts While Pirating his neighbors wireless connection: I know for most people BA is the end all, be all for evaulating players. However the Yankees of the 90s were the first to realize the importance of the OBP. While some player like Williams and O’neil, might have subpar BA in the World Series I’d like to see their OBP before judging them.
Also I think it’s important to note that over the long haul, I suspect that the BA of most players decrease significantly during the World Series. This is likely caused by a number of factors such as the strong pitching of the opposing team, close games, managers using bullpens differently and the amazing pressure of the situation.
Patrick’s respone to Ryan’s thoughts:
Postseason OBP of discussed players:
Posada: .353– Not bad
Martinez: .321– Thanks for playing
Brosius: .278– Are you kidding me?
Williams. 371– Very nice