One and two are absolute no-brainers, but who else makes the cut for best shortstops in New York Yankees history?
One and two are easy, but who else makes the cut for best shortstops in New York Yankees history? Whenever people hear the name “New York Yankees,” they immediately think of the shortstop position.
However, the Yankees have rarely had elite shortstops since their inception. Putting together this list wasn’t easy, but let’s see who the best of this group is.
5. Frankie Crosetti (1932-48)
• 1,683 games, .245/.341/.354, .695 OPS, 83 OPS+, 98 home runs, 649 RBIs, 19.9 oWAR, 14.2 dWAR
Frankie Crosetti played his entire career in pinstripes.
Nicknamed “The Crow,” Crosetti wasn’t a special hitter as is evident by his batting average and the fact that he led the league in strikeouts twice. But he reached base quite often (he led the league in HBP seven times) and was a very good fielder.
As a player, Crosetti was a two-time All-Star and eight-time World Series champion. He led MLB in stolen bases in 1938 and also led the league in games and at-bats once and in plate appearances twice.
Crosetti ranks second among Yankees shortstops in games, at-bats (6,277), runs (1,006), doubles (260), triples (65), home runs, RBIs, walks (792), and HBP (114).
Although he played for the Yankees much longer than most of the players ahead of him on this list, Crosetti comes in so low because of his hitting, which includes an unimpressive .174 batting average in the playoffs.
Upon retiring, Crosetti would become part of the Yankees coaching staff for 20 years. In total, he won a whopping 17 World Series and was a part of 23, the most by anyone in the sport, ever.
4. Didi Gregorius (Yankees tenure: 2014-19)
• 660 games, .269/.313/.446, .759 OPS, 101 OPS+, 97 home runs, 360 RBIs, 15.1 oWAR, 3.4 dWAR
Taking over at shortstop for one of the best to ever do it is no easy task, and few thought Didi Gregorius would be up for it. In reality, he did a more than respectable job.
Now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Gregorius played markedly fewer games for the Yankees than anyone else on this list, but he carved out a place in franchise history as one of the best shortstops to don the pinstripes.
Gregorius is the first Yankees shortstop with consecutive seasons of 20-plus home runs. Among Yankees shortstops, he ranks first in slugging, second in OBP, third in OPS+ and home runs, fourth in batting average, and fifth in HBP (28).
He also hit one of the most iconic home runs in the team’s recent history against the Minnesota Twins during the 2017 AL Wild Card game.
3. Roger Peckinpaugh (Yankees tenure: 1913-21)
• 1,219 games, .257/.334/.342, .676 OPS, 93 OPS+, 36 home runs, 428 RBIs, 25.4 oWAR, 16.1 dWAR
Known primarily for his excellent defense, Roger Peckinpaugh is widely recognized as one of the best defensive shortstops of the deadball era. He led the American League in assists and double plays three times.
His offensive stats aren’t eye-opening but aren’t bad, either, especially for the time period in which he played.
Peckinpaugh is third among Yankees shortstops in fWAR (29.7) and stolen bases (143), and fourth in at-bats (4,555), runs (670), hits (1,170), triples (53), RBIs, and walks (508).
2. Phil Rizzuto (1941-42, 46-56)
• 1,661 games, .273/.351/.355, .706 OPS, 93 OPS+, 38 home runs, 563 RBIs, 29.5 oWAR, 22.9 dWAR
The history of the Yankees is not the same without Phil Rizzuto. “Scooter” spent his entire career with the Yankees, where he was a five-time All-Star, seven-time World Series champion, and the 1950 AL MVP.
He finished top-10 in MVP voting a total of three times, including as the runner-up in 1949. His No. 10 has been retired by the Yankees in Monument Park and he’s a member of the Hall of Fame.
Rizzuto was an incredible defender: When he retired, he was second among shortstops in double plays and second among American League shortstops in career fielding percentage.
Rizzuto is also known for being one of the best bunters in the history of the game. In fact, he led MLB in sacrifice bunts for four straight years.
Rizzuto played in a whopping 219 postseason games, and you can bet he’s in the record books for those, too.
Rizzuto is second among Yankees shortstops in hits (1,588) and stolen bases (149). One can’t help but wonder how much better all of his numbers would’ve been had he not taken three years off to serve in the military.
1. Derek Jeter (1995-2014)
• 2,747 games, .310/.377/.440, .817 OPS, 115 OPS+, 260 home runs, 1,311 RBIs, 96.3 oWAR, -9.4 dWAR
Was there ever a question? Derek Jeter is undeniably one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game. He spent his entire career with the Yankees and did nothing but stockpile accolades and awards in New York.
Jeter was a 14-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion, the 2000 World Series MVP, the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, five-time Gold Glover, five-time Silver Slugger, two-time AL Hank Aaron Award winner, the 2009 Roberto Clemente Award winner and the captain of the Yankees from 2003 until his retirement in 2014.
He finished top-10 in MVP voting nine times and top-five three of those times. His No. 2 is retired by the Yankees in Monument Park.
The induction ceremony has yet to happen, but Jeter was elected into the Hall of Fame after getting a whopping 99.75% of votes, the second-highest all-time after long-time teammate Mariano Rivera.
Jeter is the Yankees all-time career leader in hits with 3,465 (for which he is sixth all-time in MLB and first among shortstops), doubles (544), games, stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602), and at-bats (11,195).
Among all MLB players, Jeter is fifth in singles, ninth in at-bats, 10th in plate appearances, and 11th in runs. His 71.3 WAR is the all-time high at the position.
Advanced defensive metrics will show that Jeter actually wasn’t a good defender but lucky for him, those didn’t come into play until several years into his career. The eye-test showed he was good enough to win five Gold Gloves.
As if what he did during the regular season wasn’t enough, Jeter shined brightest in the postseason. Nicknamed “Captain Clutch” and “Mr. November,” Jeter is one of the greatest postseason players of all time.
He’s famous for having played the approximate equivalent of an entire season in the playoffs (158 games), and during that span, he slashed .308/.374/.465 with a .838 OPS while recording 20 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 200 hits.