Friday, June 06, 2014

The All-Yankees-Who-Never-Won-A-World Series Team

I've been working on the next entry in my All-Time Teams series for quite some time now. Actually, "working off and on" would be more accurate than "working on." Of course, since the last entry was the New York Mets, it should be pretty obvious who's up next.

However, at least partly inspired by Replacement Level's recent naming of The All-Never-Won-A-World Series Team, I'm going to allow myself to be sidetracked a little here.

This wasn't an easy exercise as it's pretty difficult finding significant Yankees who never won a World Series with the team. In fact, because of this, I decided not to hem and haw over the reserves and just go with a starting lineup, five-man rotation and relief pitcher.

Not surprisingly, the lineup is dominated by players from the deadball era, the pre-Steinbrenner years and the early-'80s to mid-'90s drought.

C - Mike Stanley
Stanley provided the Yankees with some good offense (134 OPS+) in a mostly full-time capacity from 1992-1995, but was let walk as a free agent, in favor of Joe Girardi, prior to their first World Series of the Jeter era. In August of 1997, the Red Sox traded him back to the Yankees, and he played a part-time role on their only late-'90s team that didn't win the World Series.

1B - Don Mattingly
Easily the most celebrated Yankee who never won a World Series, Mattingly also earned the most WAR for the franchise among players who fit the distinction. Of course, everyone knows Donnie Baseball played in his first postseason in 1995 and then retired fairly young, missing out on the 1996 celebration. He probably has a World Series ring earned during his time as a spring training hitting instructor, but otherwise his coaching and managing career has been similarly frustrating in terms of World Series victories. He became hitting coach in 2004 and left just prior to the 2008 season.

2B - Jimmy Williams
Williams was the franchise's original second baseman and served as the starter at the position from 1901-1907, providing good offense (116 OPS+) and solid overall play (20.7 WAR). He's also the only position player on this roster who played for the team before they were called the Yankees (1901-02: Baltimore Orioles, 1903-07: New York Highlanders).

SS - Roger Peckinpaugh
Peckinpaugh joined the team the year they became known as the Yankees (1913) and was a fixture at shortstop for most of that year and the eight seasons that followed. He played in the franchise's first World Series appearance, in which they lost 5-games-to-3 to the New York Giants in 1921. Following that season, he was part of a blockbuster deal between the Yankees and the Red SoxRip Collins, Jack Quinn, Bill Piercy and Peckinpaugh for Bullet Joe Bush, Sad Sam Jones and Everett Scottbut was subsequently traded to Washington three weeks later. In 1924, he was a member of the Senators' first and only World Series winning team.

3B - Home Run Baker
He had his best seasons with the Philadelphia Athleticswho won it all in 1910, 1911 and 1913 while he was therebefore being sold to the Yankees following a contract dispute over which he sat out the entire 1915 season. Like Peckinpaugh, he played on the World Series losing team of 1921. Unlike Peckinpaugh, he was also a member of the World Series losing team of 1922, his final major league season.

LF - Rickey Henderson
Henderson actually played more games in centerand reasonably wellfor the Yankees than in left, but the latter always seemed like his natural position. The mid-to-late '80s weren't as bad as most people remember, with 1989 being the only year they won less than 85 games. In fact, in Rickey's first and best year in pinstripes (1985), the Yankees won 97 games, but finished two behind the Blue Jays. Henderson played in 60 postseason gamesand won World Series in Oakland and Torontoin his career, but none of them were with the Yankees.

CF - Bobby Murcer
Getting back to our hard-luck stories, Murcer was with the Yankees from 1965-1974 and 1979-1983. You probably know what happened in the intervening four years...three trips to the World Series, two of them victorious. He never quite lived up to expectations (i.e. Mickey Mantle comparisons), but he enjoyed a fine career nonetheless.

RF - Dave Winfield
Little did anyone know when Winfield was dubbed "Mr. May" by George Steinbrenner following a 1-for-22 performance in the 1981 World Series loss to the Dodgers, it would turn out to be his last postseason appearance in pinstripes. He would, however, go on to deliver the game-winning hit in the Blue Jays' 1992 World Series clinching Game 6 victory.

DH - Jason Giambi
Giambi was on the 2003 team that lost the World Series to the Marlins, and I have to admit I didn't remember that he didn't play at all in the 2004 postseason. Judging by his seasons stats, he was injured and/or deemed ineffective when healthy, and I certainly recall watching Tony Clark and John Olerud play, but the Giambi circumstances aren't coming back to me.

RHP - Mike Mussina
Mussina, of course, began his Yankee years on the 2001 team that lost in seven games to the Diamondbacks, then retired following the first 20-win season of his career (2008). He surely could have been an integral part of the 2009 championship team, especially considering they tested the nerves of Yankees fans by getting through the entire postseason with a three-man rotation that included A.J. Burnett.

LHP - Tommy John
TJ's timing wasn't so great either, as he pitched for the Dodgers during their 1977 and 1978 World Series losses to the Yankees, then switched sides to be a member of the 1981 team that lost to the Dodgers. Those three losses would be the extent of John's World Series experience despite a 26-year career.

Mel Stottlemyre and deadball era pitchers Jack Chesbro and Russ Ford, all right-handed pitchers who might bump John if they were southpaws, round out the rotation.

RP - Dave Righetti
Rags never had a breakthrough season as a starter, but the decision to move him to the bullpen at age 25 epitomizes the team's mismanagement during the years between the two successful portions of the Steinbrenner era. I'm not saying letting him remain as a starter would've made the difference, but we never got to find out, did we?

Who did I miss?