“I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee." -- Joe DiMaggio
So while Hall of Fame outfielder Joe DiMaggio may not have exactly been the best person later on in life, it's probably better that we remember the Yankee Clipper for that line rather than his anger at not being announced last on Old Timer's Day.
Not only is it a good time to be a New York Yankees fan with the Baby Bombers fighting for the best record in the league, but it's probably a good time for the players too. Imagine being Aaron Judge or Gary Sanchez, two of the top young players in the game, and waking up each morning knowing you're getting to wear the pinstripes.
Today, though, let's talk about some players who may or may not have played for the Yankees in recent years. Taking a look at players who have played since 2000, can you figure out which of them were Yankees and which weren't?
Because baseball is a game of stats, I think it's important to put a quick disclaimer here regarding the usage of some stats for this article. While traditional stats like wins and home runs will be used, I will also mention some advanced stats that include the following:
- OPS: On-base plus slugging
- WAR: Wins Above Replacement (the Baseball-Reference version).
- FIP (Fielder's Independent Pitching).
I likely won't always be doing these types of disclaimers, but I wanted you to prepare. If you're ready, grab your Yankees hat (and your Timbs) and let's take a trip to the House that Jeter Built.
A 22nd round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1985, younger readers will best know Smoltz for making Joe Buck tolerable - we mean, being the first regular color commentator that Buck has worked with on national broadcasts who actually brings something to the table. The 1996 National League Cy Young Award winner with the Atlanta Braves and a member of the 3,000 strikeout club, Smoltz made eight All-Star Games and totaled a 66.5 career WAR, 39th all-time for pitchers. Did any of that come in pinstripes?
A two-time All-Star with the Boston Red Sox - and a pitcher that the Yankees hit fairly well, as Lowe had a 6.41 ERA with a 58-45 K-BB ratio in 105.1 innings against the Bombers - the former eighth-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 1991 was a reliable starter from 2002-12 after being moved to the rotation full-time with the Red Sox, going 155-125 with a 4.08 ERA and a 24.2 WAR in that span. Did Lowe ever take the mound in the Bronx for the home team?
Hailed as the Greek God of walks for his excellent eye at the plate - though Youkillis had a career 928-539 K-BB ratio and never walked more than 80 times in a single season after 2006 - Youkillis made three All-Star Games with the Boston Red Sox and had an .861 OPS during the 2007 World Series. Also known for his defense, Youkillis was worth 26.8 WAR from 2007-11. Did the man with one of baseball's best goatees have to shave it for the Bronx?
Once the single-season home run king and the 1987 American League Rookie of the Year with the Oakland Athletics, baseball fans owe a bit of gratitude to Mark McGwire for the show he and Sammy Sosa put on. Compiling a career 62.0 WAR with a .982 OPS, McGwire won the 1989 World Series with the Oakland Athletics and spent the final years of his career in St. Louis, hitting 29 home runs in 2001 despite a .187 batting average and 118 strikeouts in 364 plate appearances. Did McGwire and his 50 home run a season average ever take his talents to the Bronx?
Another All-Star first baseman (I promise, we'll get to players of different positions soon) from the Steroid Era, Helton broke into the big leagues in 1997 as a 23 year old with the Rockies and immediately became one of the league's top hitters, slashing .322/.432/.585 with 298 home runs and a 749-972 K-BB ratio from 1998-2007 in Colorado. A five-time National League All-Star and a member of the 2007 Colorado Rockies World Series team, did Helton and his excellent goatee ever spend time as a member of the pinstripes?
Finally, we can take a bit of a break from big-bodied first baseman, instead talking about the speedy Kenny Lofton. A six-time All-Star with the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves from 1994-99, Lofton stole 295 bases in 375 attempts during that span, including a career-high 75 in 1996. After leaving the Indians in 2001 as a 34 year old, Lofton never played consecutive seasons with a single team until his final game in 2007. Were the New York Yankees one of those teams?
The Big Puma himself, Lance Berkman was a Houston fan favorite in his playing career with the Astros and has alienated some fans in his retirement after arguing against pro-transgender rights. In his playing days, though, Berkman was a fantastic switch-hitter, one that had an OPS over 1,000 three times from 2001-06 and made six career All-Star Games. When Houston began rebuilding in 2010, however, players like Berkman and Roy Oswalt (more on him later) were shipped out. Did Fat Elvis land in New York at any time?
Maybe the greatest pitcher of the past 30 years - and there's a serious consideration for Maddux as the greatest pitcher of all-time, but that's a conversation for another day - what is there to say about The Professor that we don't already know? A four-time Cy Young Award winner and ERA leader and an 18-time Gold Glove winner, Maddux compiled a career 104.6 WAR and was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2014. Did Mad Dog ever perform his magic in the Bronx?
One of the more recently active players on this list after spending 97 games in 2015 with the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays, Sizemore was once among the American League's best center fielders in the mid 2000s, totaling a 24.6 WAR from 2005-08 with the Cleveland Indians. When injuries began to pile up later in his career, however, Sizemore and the Indians parted ways. Can you tell us if the two-time Gold Glover ever traded Chief Wahoo for the pinstripes?
We've discussed Ordonez a bit in the past over on The Sportster, specifically his days in Detroit as the Tigers' All-Star right fielder from 2005-11. Slashing .309/.369/.502 and compiling a 38.5 WAR for his career - including a 7.3 mark in 2007 when he hit a league-best .363 for the Tigers and finished second in the American League MVP voting - Ordonez won three Silver Sluggers and made six All-Star Games in his career. Did any of those come with him donning his signature number 30 Yankees?
Yes, once upon a time, Barry Zito was indeed a star. The American League's Cy Young Award winner for 2002 and a three-time All-Star with the Oakland Athletics, Zito compiled a 30.9 WAR - that's a 4.4 average - from 2000-06; for comparison, Greg Maddux had a 26.5 WAR in that time - and Maddux was still pitching pretty damn well! After Oakland, Zito spent time with the San Francisco Giants before returning to the Athletics in 2015. Did Zito ever spend any time in The Empire State?
A Hall of Fame southpaw best known for his days with the Atlanta Braves, the first thing I have to say about Glavine is that one should read John Feinstein's 'Living On The Black', which details the careers - and the 2007 seasons - of both Glavine and former Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. Second, Glavine dazzled both on the mound (the Braves' second-round pick in 1984 had a career 81.4 WAR in 682 games) and at the plate, winning four Silver Sluggers. But, did the 1995 World Series MVP ever dazzle with the Yankees?
Well, we go from a first ballot Hall of Famer to...a player that, for a time in the mid 2000s, seemed like he was on the path to the Hall of Very Good. A former Texas Rangers prospect traded to the Cleveland Indians prior to the 2003 season, 'Pronk' is probably best known for his heyday from 2004-07, when the North Dakota product had an OPS of .976 and hit 127 home runs for the Indians, helping them to the 2007 American League Championship Series. Did Hafner ever hit any home runs in pinstripes?
I think we've discussed Kerry Wood enough over on The Sportster for you guys to know how much I love the two-time All-Star, but if you're new...I LOVE Kerry Wood! Between his 20 strikeout game in 1998 as a 21 year old and his near-seamless transition to reliever in 2007, it's hard for me to hate the type of man he was off the mound; oh and a 16.7 WAR from 2001-04 isn't bad either. Prior to Wood's retirement in 2012 in his second stint with the Cubs, did the 1998 National League Rookie of the Year rack up strikeouts in the Bronx?
Well, if we're going to talk about Kerry Wood, we may as well talk about Mark Prior. Another top prospect with the Chicago Cubs who saw his career destroyed by injuries (and, potentially, overuse), Prior was on his way to stardom after compiling a 10.4 WAR in his first two seasons - the second of which, 2003, saw him pitch to a 2.43 ERA and strike out 245 hitters in 211.1 innings - before being hit with DL stint after DL stint. Prior kept trying to make it back to the Majors, though; could the Yankees help with that?
I almost feel bad for Ryan Howard. A three-time All-Star and the 2006 National League MVP with the Philadelphia Phillies, Howard was essentially a victim of his own success; he was employed because he could hit home runs, but once his power began to go down the drain, he became useless. It may be hard to feel bad for a guy who earned close to 200 million dollars in his career, but Howard was fun to watch in his prime, totaling 284 home runs from 2005-11. Did any of those come as a member of the Yankees?
Rather than bore you with Barry Bonds' stats - which, seriously, have been over-talked to death before, during, and after the Steroid Era - I want you to look up his Baseball-Reference page and look at all of the bolded and italicized text. If something is in both, then that means he led the league. The all-time home run king, my favorite Barry Bonds stat is this: in 2004, Bonds drew a record 232 walks and only struck out 41 times. The guy nearly had 200 more walks than strikeouts in a single season. Did Bonds display any of that magic at the plate with the Yankees?
Probably known best among some younger baseball fans for his books on steroids and other players who took them, Canseco was once an All-Star outfielder and designated hitter in his prime with the Oakland Athletics, even winning the 1998 American League MVP Award. Named to six All-Star Games and winning four Silver Sluggers, Canseco played for a variety of teams - all of which were in the American League - after leaving Oakland (for the first time) in 1992. Were the New York Yankees one of those teams?
Arguably the greatest pitcher all time who is not in the Hall of Fame as of 2017 (though, we all know why, don't we?), Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards in his long career; also taking home seven ERA titles and winning the 1986 American League MVP after pitching to a 2.48 ERA and a 238-67 K-BB ratio in 254 innings, Clemens was the absolute definition of dominant. Clemens even won two World Series rings in his career...but with which team? Were the Yankees one of those teams?
An teammate of Clemens' with the Toronto Blue Jays, Delgado was one of the league's more underrated first basemen in the days of Jason Giambi, Albert Pujols, Mark McGwire, and other stars. Don't believe me? From 1996 to 2006, Delgado totaled a 43.6 WAR - an average of 4.0 a season, which looks even better with a 4.9 average from 1998-2004. Winning three Silver Sluggers and being named to two All-Star Games, did Delgado cause any damage with the Yankees?
Set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month, Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez most certainly deserves the nod after a career that saw him slash .296/.334/.464 and total a 68.4 WAR. Winning the 2003 World Series in his lone season with the Florida Marlins, Rodriguez also made 14 All-Star Games and win 13 Gold Gloves. We tend to think of Pudge, the 1999 American League MVP, as a Texas Ranger and a Detroit Tiger, but was he ever a New York Yankee?
It may be easy to forget how on point Roy Oswalt was, even as recently as six years ago with the Philadelphia Phillies. A three-time All-Star and the 2005 National League Championship Series MVP with the Houston Astros, Oswalt compiled a 40.8 WAR from 2001-08, including a 22.4 mark from 2004-07. One of the top homegrown players in Astros history, Oswalt bounced around with a couple other teams after leaving Houston. Did Oswalt ever stop in the Bronx on the way?
Big Sexy! Insert your favorite Bartolo Colon gifs here! The 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner and a four-time Cy Young Award winner, I promise that Colon is much, much more than the clown he gets portrayed as. A consistent rotation starter for the past 20 years, Colon has obviously bounced around many teams - he's had success with the Indians and Mets, most notably, though he did win a Cy Young with the Angels (he shouldn't have) - but were the Yankees one of those teams?
Another of my favorite players from the last couple decades, Thome seems like a lock for the Hall of Fame in January after hitting 612 home runs and totaling a 72.9 WAR from 1991 to 2012. A five-time All-Star (what?) and only winning one Silver Slugger (what were the voters on??), Thome is best known for his time with the Indians from 1991-02 where he hit 337 home runs and had a 47.9 WAR. Thome spent time with plenty of other teams after Cleveland, but were the Yankees one of them?
One of the American League's top second baseman in the 2000s, people forget how durable and consistent Brian Roberts was from 2001-09 before injuries began to take their toll. Compiling a 27.9 WAR over those nine seasons and stealing 256 bases in 320 attempts, Roberts made two All-Star Games in that time; however, Roberts wouldn't play more than 77 games in a season before the Orioles let him go after the 2013 season. Did Roberts get a chance to play with the Yankees?
There should be no introduction to Pedro Martinez and his Hall of Fame career, especially not with three Cy Young Awards and five ERA titles...and yet, 49 voters left him off the ballot entirely in the 2015 Hall of Fame election?? What??? A member of the 2004 Boston Red Sox team that broke the curse, Martinez had a career 84.0 WAR and struck out 3,154 hitters in 2827.3 innings. When he wasn't dominating the Yankees on the other side, did Martinez ever don the pinstripes?
Joining Jim Thome as a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee seven months from now will be former Atlanta Braves third baseman Larry 'Chipper' Jones, the 1999 National League MVP and one of the most potent sluggers in the Steroid Era. Compiling a career 85.0 WAR and having five seasons with an OPS above 1,000, Jones made eight All-Star Games and has remained a fan favorite in Atlanta. Though New York found a long-term third baseman in Alex Rodriguez in 2004, was Jones ever looked at as the potential answer?
With no relation to Chipper Jones, let's talk about the Gold Glove outfielder Andruw Jones, a teammate of Chipper's in Atlanta from 1996-2007. Hitting 368 home runs with the Braves and making the majority of his highlights there - five All-Star Games, ten Gold Gloves, and a 61.0 WAR - Jones was among the league's best outfielders before leaving for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. Before Jones called it quits (in America, at least) after the 2012 season, did he stop in New York?
A five-time All-Star southpaw and a key contributor to the 2005 Chicago White Sox that broke the curse (look at that smile in that picture!), Mark Buehrle had a career 59.2 WAR, though his best seasons came from 2000-11 with the Southsiders. Recording a 3.83 ERA in 390 games with the White Sox and a 49.0 WAR, Buehrle was - and remains - a fan favorite for his decade plus of excellence (and his 2009 perfect game). Did the southpaw ever take his talents to the Yankees?
One of the top power hitters from the past decade, it's crazy to think that this is the ten year anniversary of Fielder - a six-time All-Star with a career 23.8 WAR - hitting 50 home runs as a 23 year old with the Milwaukee Brewers. With 319 career home runs, Fielder was a dangerous power threat in his prime, though neck injuries sapped him of his once-deadly power and prematurely ended his career in 2016. Before having to call it quits, did Fielder ever slam home runs as a member of the New York Yankees?
Another dangerous power hitting first baseman, Carlos Pena was a bit of a journeyman before finding a home with the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays from 2007-10. Making the team out of spring training, Pena had a career-best 7.2 WAR in 2007 with 46 home runs and totaled a 17.4 WAR in that period, even making his lone All-Star Game in 2009. Pena would bounce around with some other organizations after leaving Tampa - even returning for a second stint with the Rays in 2012 - but were the Yankees one of those teams?
Some people will call Eric Gagne 'The Closer of the 2000s', which I find utterly disrespectful to Mariano Rivera. However, there was a time when Gagne was flat out unhittable with the Dodgers, especially during his streak with 84 consecutive saves. The 2003 National League Cy Young Award winner for those efforts, Gagne had an 8.9 WAR from 2002-04 (pretty damn good for a closer) before injuries took their toll. Leaving the Dodgers after the 2006 season, did Gagne ever wind up as a setup man to Rivera?
Now, we go from one of the league's top relievers in the 2000s whose career was derailed by injuries to one of the league's more underrated outfielders in the 2000s whose career was momentarily halted by a lack of power. Seriously, Bobby Abreu was a consistent 25-30 home run threat from 2000-2005, but his efforts in the 2005 Home Run Derby may have affected his power swing. Still, Abreu remained a fine outfielder afterwards, recording clutch hit after clutch hit for several different teams. Were the Yankees one of those teams?
The forgotten man of the shortstop trio that also featured Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, it's easy to forget that Nomar Garciaparra was right up there with the two for best shortstop through the early 2000s. A career .313 hitter with a 44.2 WAR and six All-Star Game appearances, Garciaparra slashed .337/.386/.577 from 1997-2000 for the Boston Red Sox. However, injuries and the Red Sox wanting to find a new shortstop led to him being included in a three-team trade in 2004 that sent him to the Cubs. Before his retirement after the 2009 season, did Garciaparra betray the trust of Boston fans by linking up with the Yankees?
An electric pitcher and a wild, tattooed beast at his worst, Allan James Burnett certainly had his moments from 1999-2015, including throwing a no-hitter in 2001 with the then-Florida Marlins. With a career 29.8 WAR, Burnett wasn't the ace that some of the others on this list were, but there were times where the former eighth round pick was among the league's top pitchers - including a 2008 season where he led the league with 231 strikeouts. Did the New York Yankees ever get a chance to experience this inconsistency?