Earlier in the month, I declared the New York Yankees as the Team of the Decade. Now, I will be presenting to you the Team of the Decade for the Team of the Decade. As the staff at IP have declared our favorite teams to one another, the Yankees have been declared as my favorite baseball team and therefore I have been give the task of presenting to you the Yankees of the Decade.
Catcher – Jorge Posada. There has been no other catcher for the Yankees for decade other than Jorge Posada. He was all All-Star five times during the decade, averaging 130 games played per season. He consistently hits over 20 home runs, drives in 80 runs per year and bats around .270. He may be getting a little older now, but as the only Yankee catcher for the decade, his is the catcher of the decade.
First Baseman – Tino Martinez – For the most part, the first base position in New York was a rotation that finally stopped with the signing of Mark Teixeira. Jason Giambi had a few years, Andy Phillips, Doug Mientkiewicz all had turns at first base. Tino played there for three years of the decade. He was there in 2000 when they beat the Mets and hot a monumental home run in 2001 in the World Series as well. He also had a return in 2005 and retired as a Yankee. It may be a sentimental pick, but #24 has a special place to Yankee fans and he would be the one the most consider the first baseman of the last decade.
Second Baseman – Robinson Cano, don’t you know? Cano took over as the Yankee second baseman in 2005 and has never looked back. He is a career .306 hitter and has 20 home runs per season power. He is starting to mature now and with 204 hits and over 100 runs scored in 2009, his upside is still to be seen.
Shortstop – Derek Jeter – Really, do I need to get into this choice?
Third baseman – Alex Rodriguez – Two MVPs since coming to the Yankees sums this choice up already.
Left Fielder – Hideki Matsui – Godzilla joined the Yankees for the 2003 season and played left field until the 2008 season. In those years, Matsui consistently had over 150 hits, batted .292, hit twenty home runs and 100 runs batted in. He may not have been the fastest man in the outfield, he had a respectable .980 fielding percentage. He spent more than half the decade in Death Valley at Yankee Stadium and gained the hearts and affection of Yankee fans.
Center Fielder – Bernie Williams – There was basically two Center Fielders in the decade, Bernie Williams and Johnny Damon. Williams, was a consistent Yankee, playing center field with speed (a career .990 fielding percentage) and was adored and loved by fans all decade long. Even when not on the field, Williams always received standing ovations upon his return to the stadium. Williams averaged around .300, 80 runs per year, 15 home runs and 75 runs batted in for the Yankees during the decade. A sign f how well he is respected by the organization is the fact that no other Yankee has worn #51 since he retired.
Right Fielder – Bobby Abreu, although I wanted to select Paul O’Neill. The Yankee right fielders for the decade are Paul O’Neill, Raul Mondesi, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu and Nick Swisher. Abreu lasted two and a half seasons, more than any other in the decade and played a consistent outfield and was a offensive boost to the lineup. In his two-plus seasons with the Yankees, he averages over 100 runs per season, 100 runs batted in, batting .300 while getting around 175 hits per season. While my heart wants to place Paul O’Neill in this position (and who can forget 56,000 people chanting Paul O’Neill’s name during Game 5 of the 2001 World Series), the best right fielder during this decade was Bobby Abreu.
Starting Pitchers of the decade –
Andy Pettitte – Seven years in pinstripes, one of the “Core Four” has consistently had between 14 and 20 wins, with an ERA around 4.00. He is considered a big game pitcher as shown in 2009 where he won the clinching game in all three series.
Mike Mussina – In eight seasons with the Yankees in the decade, he won 51 more games than he lost. He was a rock in the rotation, starting approximately 30 games each season and averaging an ERA around 4.00. His best season was his last, 2008, where he won 20 games for the first time.
Reliever of the Decade – #42 Mariano Rivera, the Sandman. How can the best at his position, of all-time not be the best in the decade?