Commentary

Page 2 ranks the Yankees' 27 title teams

Originally Published: November 5, 2009
By David Schoenfield | Page 2

All is right with the world again. Well, at least the baseball world. The Yankees are champs. New Yorkers are singing to Sinatra. Derek Jeter is hugging Mariano Rivera at the end of a World Series.

This is proof that money can buy happiness. So, thank you, New York Yankees, thank you for showing the Pittsburgh Pirates and their ilk that pinching pennies is no way to go through life.

Sarcasm aside, the Yankees were baseball's best team. They showed us that in the postseason. Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia were terrific, and the great Rivera was again untouchable.

Where does this team rank among all the Yankee champs? Let us rank all 27. No science was used. No heavy-duty analysis. We looked at the numbers -- win-loss records, run differentials and postseason results -- and then went with our gut. You know, kind of like using Brad Lidge or a 38-year-old, off-the-scrap-heap Pedro Martinez. The fun part of this exercise? We get to dig up names like Snuffy and Cuddles. (You'll have to read on for that.)

[+] Enlarge1939 Yankees
AP PhotoThe 1939 Yankees scored 967 runs and breezed to a World Series victory despite the loss of Lou Gehrig.

1. 1939 Yankees (107-45, .702, plus-411 run differential, swept World Series)
Not as famous as some other teams, but widely viewed by experts (well, experts who know what they're talking about) as the greatest baseball team ever. They scored 76 more runs than any other AL team and allowed 144 fewer. Their scoring differential of 411 runs is the best in major league history. Joe DiMaggio (.381, 126 RBIs) led an offense that featured five regulars with .400-plus on-base percentages, while 21-game winner Red Ruffing was one of seven hurlers to win 10 or more games.

2. 1927 Yankees (110-44, .714, plus-376, swept World Series)
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig provided the most devastating one-two punch in the game's history, as Ruth hit .356 with 60 homers and 164 RBIs while Gehrig hit .373 with 47 homers, 52 doubles, 18 triples and 175 RBIs. Starting pitchers Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock are in the Hall of Fame, but the team's top pitcher was a 30-year-old rookie named Wilcy Moore, who went 19-7 with a 2.28 ERA and 13 saves.

3. 1998 Yankees (114-48, .704, plus-309, 11-2 in playoffs, swept World Series)
This team was deep and balanced (no player hit 30 home runs, but 10 hit at least 10) and had the best pitching staff of the modern-era clubs. (Hideki Irabu even had a better ERA than Andy Pettitte.) The argument against this club: It was an expansion season, and expansion seasons always produce inflated records. (The Braves, for example, won 106 games in '98.) Argument for: David Wells probably threw some great house parties.

4. 1936 Yankees (102-51, .667, plus-334, won World Series in six games)
In the first of four straight World Series championships, Gehrig (.354, 49 homers) and rookie DiMaggio (.323, 29 homers) were two of six starters who hit .300. The overall team average was .300, and these Bombers scored 10 or more runs 41 times -- more than a quarter of their games. Oh, they also allowed the fewest runs in the league.

5. 1937 Yankees (102-52, .662, plus-308, won World Series in five games)
DiMaggio, Gehrig and Bill Dickey combined to drive in 459 runs. The rest of the lineup wasn't too shabby, either -- George Selkirk hit .328 and slugged .629, and Tommy Henrich hit .320 and slugged .553 … and neither could crack the starting lineup on a regular basis. Yes, it was right about here that the rest of America started hating the Yankees.

[+] Enlarge1953 New York Yankees
AP Photo/Matty ZimmermanThe Duke of Windsor visits the Yankees dugout to chat with Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel and Phil Rizzuto. We believe this is the 1953 equivalent to hangin' with Jay-Z in the VIP area at the 40/40 Club.

6. 1953 Yankees (99-52, .656, plus-254, won World Series in six games)
The Yankees led the AL in runs scored, allowed the fewest runs and won their fifth straight World Series. Whitey Ford, 24, went 18-6, but the rest of the staff was a group of crafty veterans: Vic Raschi, Ed Lopat, Allie Reynolds and Johnny Sain were all 34 or older but went a combined 56-24. This team won 18 straight games in late May and early June to cruise to the pennant.

7. 1932 Yankees (107-47, .695, plus-278, swept World Series)
Ruth was aging, getting fat and probably ran like a Molina brother by this time, but he could still hit: .341 with 41 homers. Gehrig, Dickey, Tony Lazzeri and Earle Combs are in the Hall of Fame. No wonder this team scored more than 1,000 runs. Lefty Gomez won 24 games, and Ruffing finished second in the league in ERA.

8. 1938 Yankees (99-53, .651, plus-256, swept World Series)
It was Gehrig's last season (he was still effective enough to hit .295 with 114 RBIs), and the team steamrolled the Cubs in the World Series, but this group had the weakest staff of the dominant '36-'39 teams (although still the best in the league).

9. 1956 Yankees (97-57, .636, plus-226, won World Series in seven games)
Mickey Mantle at the height of his powers: He led the AL in homers, RBIs, batting average, runs, slugging percentage and total bases, although he did finish second to teammate Billy Martin in beverages consumed at the Copacabana.

10. 2009 Yankees (103-59, .636, plus-162, 11-4 in playoffs, won World Series in six games)
A deep and intimidating lineup (Melky Cabrera was the only regular with an OPS+ below league average), a deep and intimidating payroll, but a pitching staff that was neither deep nor intimidating. Still, we'll put this team at No. 10 -- that was a heck of a lineup, and CC Sabathia is a legit ace. Remember back on May 12 when they were 15-17 and 6½ games out of first place? You were mocking them at the time, weren't you? You know you were. So, if you hate the Yankees, it's probably your fault they won. They took that mocking and spit it right back in your face.

11. 1950 Yankees (98-56, .636, plus-223, swept World Series)
Phil Rizzuto hit .324, scored 125 runs and won the AL MVP award; Yogi hit .322 and drove in 124 runs; in his last great season, DiMaggio hit .301 with 122 RBIs; Hall of Famer Johnny Mize slugged 25 homers in just 274 at-bats. They swept the Phillies in the World Series, with Yankee fans chanting, "Who's your daddy?" when Robin Roberts pitched.

12. 1947 Yankees (95-57, .630. plus-226, won World Series in seven games)
Joe DiMaggio was named AL MVP despite hitting only 20 homers and driving in 97 runs. Why? Because he was Joe DiMaggio, that's why. (Actually, those were pretty good numbers for that year: He was sixth in homers and third in RBIs.) The team's secret weapon was reliever Joe Page, who pitched 141 innings, won 14 games and saved 17. So he threw as many innings in one year as Mariano Rivera throws in two. Take that, Mariano! (Although Mariano wasn't saddled with the nickname "The Gay Reliever." Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

[+] EnlargeNew York Yankees
AP PhotoGoose Gossage stands at the center of the Yankees' 1978 World Series celebration at Dodger Stadium.

13. 1978 Yankees (100-63, .613, plus-153, 7-3 in playoffs, won World Series in six games)
This team ranks slightly above the '77 squad thanks to the addition of Goose Gossage to the bullpen (guess what … he was a free agent, so even then the Yankees were buying pennants) and the awesome season of Ron Guidry, who went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA and earned the classic "Louisiana Lightning" nickname. We don't have nicknames like that anymore. Couldn't Mark Teixeira be the "Maryland Mauler"? A.J. Burnett, the "Arkansas Assassin"? Joba Chamberlain, the "Nebraska Neutralizer"? C'mon, sportswriters, you have a job to do, and you're failing.

14. 1977 Yankees (100-62, .617, plus-180, 7-4 in playoffs, won World Series in six games)
This squad used only 154 relief appearances the entire season, and 114 of those were by Sparky Lyle and Dick Tidrow. So it basically had a two-man bullpen. This team also had a Willie, a Bucky, a Jimmy, an Ellie, a Reggie and two guys named Mickey, and it was managed by a Billy. Man, the '70s were fun.

15. 1999 Yankees (98-64, .605, plus-169, 11-1 in playoffs, swept World Series)
David Cone was the only starting pitcher with an ERA below 4.12. Somehow they still allowed the second fewest runs in the league. Oh, that's right … this was the height of the steroids era, when an ERA under 5.00 meant you were an All-Star, and an ERA under 4.00 meant you were a Cy Young candidate.

16. 1928 Yankees (101-53, .656, plus-209, swept World Series)
They scored nearly 100 fewer runs and allowed nearly 100 more than the '27 edition. In other words, they weren't as good, but they were still pretty awesome. They would have been even better if pitcher Urban Shocker (name at birth: Urbain Jacques Shockcor), who had won 18 games in 1927, hadn't contracted pneumonia and died in September. True story.

17. 1923 Yankees (98-54, .645, plus-201, won World Series in six games)
The Yankees had lost their first World Series in 1921 and 1922. Then in 1923 they moved into a new ballpark, which they called Yankee Stadium. They then won 27 of the next 42 AL pennants. God help us all (except Yankee fans, of course) if that happens again. This team was pretty good; it won the pennant by 16 games, Babe Ruth hit a lot of home runs, and five pitchers won 16-plus games as they allowed fewest runs in the league.

[+] EnlargeRoger Maris
Arthur Rickerby/Getty ImagesRoger Maris preceded Alex Rodriguez by not being considered a "true Yankee" by his detractors.

18. 1961 Yankees (109-53, .673, plus-215, won World Series in five games)
The most overrated team in baseball history, and here's why: (a) It was an expansion season, so factor that in (the Tigers won 101 games that year); (b) they didn't lead the league in either offense or defense; (c) thanks to Roger Maris and Mantle, they hit 240 home runs, but the top of the lineup was horrible (Bobby Richardson had a .295 OBP, Tony Kubek .306); (d) Whitey Ford was great (3.21 ERA), but the pitching staff included guys like Bill Stafford, Rollie Sheldon and Luis Arroyo, who weren't really any good except that one year; (e) outside of Johnny Blanchard, the bench was absolutely horrible; (f) they had a guy named Tex -- but he was from California, not Texas.

19. 1941 Yankees (101-53, .656, plus-199, won World Series in five games)
DiMaggio (.357, 30 homers, 125 RBIs, .440 OBP, 56-game hitting streak), Charlie Keller (.298, 33 homers, 122 RBIs, .416 OBP) and Tommy Henrich (.277, 31 homers, 85 RBIs, .377 OBP) combined to have one of the greatest outfields of all time. Throw in Hall of Famers Joe Gordon, Dickey and Rizzuto, and this team overcame first baseman Johnny Sturm, who hit .239 with three home runs in 524 at-bats. He must have been a whiz in the field.

20. 1951 Yankees (98-56, .636, plus-177, won World Series in six games)
DiMaggio's last year, Mantle's first. Raschi and Lopat each won 21 games. This team ranked second in hitting, second in pitching and rallied from a 2-1 deficit to beat the Giants in the World Series.

21. 1952 Yankees (95-59, .617, plus-170, won World Series in seven games)
None of the five straight champs from '49 to '53 won 100 games (the 1954 team won 103 but lost the pennant), and the first four of those were locked in tight pennant races -- winning by one, three, five and two games. The '52 squad, which edged Cleveland by two games, was led by Berra (30 homers, 98 RBIs), the 20-year-old Mantle (.311. 23 homers) and Allie Reynolds (20-8, 2.06).

22. 1949 Yankees (97-57, .630, plus-192, won World Series in five games)
Casey Stengel's first season as Yankees skipper may have been his best, as they defeated the Red Sox in the final two games to beat Boston by one game for the pennant. Rizzuto and Page finished second and third in the MVP voting as the Yankees overcame a string of injuries. (Rizzuto was the only player with 500 at-bats.) Bonus trivia: They had a pitcher named Cuddles Marshall and a second baseman named Snuffy Stirnweiss.

23. 1958 Yankees (92-62, .597, plus-182, won World Series in seven games)
Mantle; Berra; Ford; and Cy Young winner Bob Turley, who enjoyed a career year (21-7, 2.97), led the way, but the pitching staff featured a bunch of unmemorable guys like Duke Maas, Art Ditmar, Johnny Kucks and Tom Sturdivant.

24. 1962 Yankees (96-66, .593, plus-137, won World Series in seven games)
Mantle hit .321 with a .486 OBP and a .605 slugging percentage to win his third MVP trophy. Maris, Elston Howard, Bill Skowron and Tom Tresh each popped 20-plus homers, but the pitching staff was thin behind Ralph Terry (23-12, 3.19) and Ford (17-8, 2.90).

25. 1996 Yankees (92-70, .568, plus-84, 11-4 in playoffs, won World Series in six games)
This was the championship that rebooted the dynasty. They had five guys hit .300, including rookie shortstop Derek Jeter … and finished ninth in runs. Dwight Gooden made 29 starts and posted a less-than-stellar 5.01 ERA. The postseason bullpen included Brian Boehringer, Graeme Lloyd and David Weathers. Andy Fox was given 200 plate appearances and hit .196. Wade Boggs hit two home runs. So, um, no, this wasn't exactly a great Yankees team.

26. 1943 Yankees (98-56, .636, plus-127, won World Series in five games)
Spud Chandler went 20-4 with 1.64 to win the AL MVP award, beating out all the other players who weren't in the military.

27. 2000 Yankees (87-74, .540, plus-57, 11-5 in playoffs, won World Series in five games)
It's easy to slot this team at No. 27. It made the playoffs only because the AL East was so weak -- the Yankees had just the fifth-best record in the AL. Jeter, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada were terrific, but Scott Brosius was horrible, Chuck Knoblauch kept throwing the ball into the stands, David Cone was given 29 starts despite a 6.91 ERA (he went 4-14) and Denny Neagle posted a 5.81 ERA in 15 starts. But they came together in the playoffs. Maybe the key was the late-season addition of Jose Canseco, who played host to crucial team-building barbecues at his apartment.

David Schoenfield is an editor for ESPN.com.

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