Who are the ten best Hispanic players in the history of the Yankees? The list might surprise you!
As we begin Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), it’s a good time to think back at the long, storied history of the New York Yankees.
Some Hispanic players have made a huge impact on the Bronx Bombers over the years. But which players accumulated the highest WAR (per Baseball Reference) while wearing the pinstripes?
Here’s how the players rank historically. What do you think?
1. Mariano Rivera – Panama
19 years with the Yankees
56.3 WAR, five-time World Series champion, 1999 World Series MVP
The only unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer in history, there’s no doubt Rivera is the greatest closer in baseball history. His iconic entrance put fear in opposing batters; his cutter shattered many of their bats.
2. Alex Rodriguez – US/Dominican Republic
12 years with the Yankees
54.2 WAR, two-time AL MVP, seven-time All-Star
A-Rod played more games as a Yankee than any of the teams in his career. He arrived in New York in 2004 but waited five years for a World Series championship. He drove in at least 100 runs in his first seven seasons for the Yankees and led the AL in home runs twice. In 1,509 games with the Yankees, A-Rod slashed .283/.378/.523 with 351 home runs, 1,096 RBI and 1,012 runs scored.
3. Bernie Williams – Puerto Rico
16 years with the Yankees
49.6 WAR, five-time All-Star, four-time World Series champion, four Gold Glove Awards, one batting title
Only five players have appeared in more games (2,076) with the Yankees than Williams: Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra and Babe Ruth. Williams slashed .297/.381/.477 with 287 home runs and 1,257 runs driven in with the Yankees as a key member of the Yankees’ dynasty of the 1990s and early 2000s. He won the AL batting crown with a .339 average in 1998, but that wasn’t the highest average he would have in a season; he batted .342 in 1999. Williams also had an .850 OPS with 22 homers and 80 RBI in 121 career playoff games – all with the Yankees. He was the 1996 ALCS MVP.
4. Robinson Canó – Dominican Republic
9 years with the Yankees
45.5 WAR, five-time All-Star, two Gold Glove Awards
Canó was the runner-up for AL Rookie of the year in 2005 as a 22-year-old. He drove in more than 100 runs in three seasons with the Yankees before getting the bag from the Mariners. Canó appeared in 1,374 games with the Yankees, hitting 204 home runs and driving in 822 runs while scoring 799 times.
5. Jorge Posada – Puerto Rico
17 years with the Yankees
42.8 WAR, five-time All-Star, four-time World Series champion, five Silver Sluggers
Posada is the second Puerto Rican who played a central role in the Yankees’ dynasty. Originally a 24th round draft pick, Posada would appear in 1,829 games – all for the Yankees. He hit 275 home runs with 1,065 runs driven in. Posada appeared in 125 playoff games for the Yankees, slashing .248/.358/.387 with 11 home runs and 42 driven in.
6. Orlando Hernández – Cuba
6 years with the Yankees
19.1 WAR, three-time World Series champion
“El Duque” arrived in New York as a 32-year-old in 1998 and helped the Yankees win three World Series championships. After missing the 2003 season he returned to post an 8-2 record in 2004, but left to win another World Series with the White Sox in 2005. He threw 876.1 innings for the Yankees, winning 61 of 101 decisions. His split-finger fastball became the stuff of legend.
7. Reggie Jackson – US
5 years with the Yankees
17.2 WAR, five-time All-Star, 1977 World Series MVP
“Mr. October” was born Reginald Martínez Jackson; his grandmother was from Puerto Rico. He was named to MLB’s all-time Latino team in 2012. In the legendary 1977 World Series, Jackson hit five home runs and drove in eight runs in six games against the Dodgers. The following year the Yankees repeated as champs against the Dodgers, and Jackson once again drove in eight runs in six games. Jackson was the runner-up for the 1980 AL MVP Award after hitting a league-leading 41 homer runs and driving in 111.
8. Didi Gregorious – Netherland Antilles
5 years with the Yankees
Sir Didi took on the impossible assignment of replacing Derek Jeter at short and earned his stripes. In five seasons with the Yankees, Didi slashed .269/.313/.446 with 97 home runs and 360 RBI. Some might argue the Yankees still miss Gregorious’ presence in the lineup.
9. Gary Sánchez – Dominican Republic
7 years with the Yankees
12.3 WAR, two All-Star Games, one Silver Slugger,
“The Kraken” began his career with the Yankees in strong fashion but has fallen out of the good graces of fans over the past couple years. Still, Sánchez has represented the Yankees in a couple All-Star Games and his bat has been the primary source of a career WAR that ranks among the ten best Hispanic players in the history of the Yankees.
10. Randy Velarde – US/Mexico
10 years with the Yankees
Velarde was one of the original super utility players, appearing in 10+ games at multiple positions over the course of several seasons in the 1990s. His 121 games in 1992 were most in his 10 seasons with Yankees.