New York Yankees: The 5 Greatest Yankees of All-Time

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New York Yankees fans please enjoy this article, but know that it was not written without agony. The Yankees are not just a baseball team, they are not just participants in one of America’s oldest sports, nor are they just a talented group of athletes. The New York Yankees are a legacy. When people think about the Yankees, they think “showbiz,” pop culture, glitz and glamour, and of course, the greatest metropolis in America, New York City.

Sep 25, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Recording artist Jay-Z attends the game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/NJ Advance Media for via USA TODAY Sports

For all of these reasons, it is unfair to rank the top 5 greatest Yankees ever. As a general disclaimer to loyal fans, this list could not possibly capture every great player to ever wear those famous pins stripes.  However, in gaining inspiration from a “Top 50 Yankees” photo gallery piece that ESPN published, this list had to be done.

There is no specific methodology in selecting these players, nor is it conclusive on any empirical level. From one fan’s perspective, here are the top five New York Yankees of all-time.

5.  Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly earns the #5 spot on this list for his offensive and defensive prowess, clutch factor, strength through adversity, and loyalty. Point blank, Mattingly is one of the greatest players to ever play in the Bronx. His statistics and attributes alone could have placed him in this conversation. Consider his golden years, the five year stretch between 1984-1989, where he averaged almost 27 home runs per season.  If that is not persuasive, consider that he averaged 78.5 RBIs for the duration of his career. Consider, his .307 career batting average and nine golden glove awards. Impressed yet? Fear not, because these statistics alone are not what makes Mattingly one of the top five greatest Yankees.

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Mattingly, also known as “The Hitman” and “Donnie Baseball,” was more than his stellar statistics and awards. He was a lovable, loyal, clutch leader. He was lovable because his contagious smile, optimistic demeanor, and strength through adversity, having overcome severe back injuries and still making a huge impact, made him an instant fan favorite.

“He was lovable because his contagious smile, optimistic demeanor, and his strength through adversity, having overcome severe back injuries and still making a huge impact, made him an instant fan favorite.”

Mattingly was loyal, because despite the Yankees not making the playoffs from 1982 until 1995, the duration of his career, he stuck by the team. He spent his entire career on a struggling team, continually dominating both at bat and defensively, and never flinched. He never left, and during his time, he was New York’s hero.

Finally, he always came through when we needed him the most. In fact, he hit a clutch home run in the Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS, that marked his historical last season with success. Earlier, in 1993, he was the ray of light that pulled the Yankees out of their darker years and led them to their best season in almost a decade. For more on the historic 1993 Yankees season, check out this FanSided story. So why has Mattingly been continually snubbed by the Hall of Fame?  That is another topic for another article. For now, Donnie Baseball, given his play, character, love for the game, and love for the city, has cemented his spot on this fan’s top five all-time Yankees list.

Next: Number 4