Field of Dreams

 

State your case...

1B Don Mattingly, New York Yankees:

Career year: 1985 (MVP) 211 hits, 48 2B’s, 35 HR’s, 145 RBI’s, .324 AVG, .939 OPS, Gold Glove

Years in New York: 14

Tierney’s Take: If not for a serious back injury, Mattingly, arguably, would be considered one of the top 25 position players of all time. A modern-day Stan Musial, and an absolute lock for 3000 hits. Nasty with the leather, too.

On deck: Keith Hernandez, New York Mets

Tierney’s Take: Clutch and intense, Mex’s defense was as potent as his bat in late-game situations, especially in the bunt-happy National League. His arrival in ’83 represented a radical shift in franchise culture. However, Hernandez never once drove in 100 runs or eclipsed 18 HR’s during his years in Queens, a fact often ignored by many passionate supporters. For a power position, that’s a big factor.

2B: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

Career year: (2010) 200 hits, 41 2B, 29 HR’s, 109 RBI’s, .319 AVG, .914 OPS, Gold Glove

Years in New York: 6

Tierney’s Take: One of the 10 best all-around talents in baseball, Cano is trending towards the upper stratosphere of baseball’s royalty. His career BA of .309 and power numbers should spike over the next 5-6 seasons given his improved patience at the plate, which is supported by an appreciable  jump in OBP%.  Just 27, Cano has already amassed 1,075 hits and is also the best defensive second baseman in baseball. Can he stay healthy/motivated enough to challenge the 3000 hit plateau? It looks too easy. Stud.

On deck: Willie Randolph, New York Yankees

Tierney’s Take: Great on the pivot and savvy on the bases, Randolph encapsulates  what second baseman were all about in his era, pre-steroids. Outstanding bunter and sure-handed, # 30 was a flat-out winner.

SS: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Captain Clutch.

 

Career year: (1999) 219 hits, 134 runs, 37 2B’s, 24 HR’s, 102 RBI’s, 19 SB’s, .349 AVG, .989 OPS

Years in New York: 16

Tierney’s Take: Pete Rose. Ty Cobb. Hank Aaron. Stan Musial. Tris Speaker. Derek Jeter? Eventually, the question mark will be removed and Jeter will stand tall with the only other members of the 3,500 + hits club. Sprinkle in a small army of World Series rings, and really, what else is there to say? Just for good measure, he played as hard as anyone, from any generation.

On deck: Jose Reyes, New York Mets

Tierney’s Take: Reyes’ dynamic talents are slightly overshadowed by his medical charts, which at times, have been maddening. Still, when healthy, Reyes remains a franchise player capable of beating you with his stick, legs and Rawlings. Worth the price of admission, but entering a crossroads in his career. Which way will he turn?

3B: David Wright, New York Mets

Career year: (2007) 113 runs, 42 2B’s, 30 HR’s, 107 RBI’s, 34 SB’s, .325 AVG, .963 OPS, Gold Glove

Years in New York: 7

Tierney’s Take: Recent dip in power and increase in K’s have alarmed most, but Wright remains Queen’s answer to Derek Jeter. Polished and productive, Wright is on pace for 350+ HR’s, 1300+ RBI’s, and 350 SB’s. Most importantly, this home-grown superstar has honored his impressive tools and avoided the fate of some iconic figures unable to do the same: Doc and Darryl. The next 2-3 years may very well decide if Wright lands in Cooperstown someday. He’s on pace.

On deck: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees

Tierney’s Take: A transcendent talent, A-Rod takes a back seat to Wright for one simple reason: I look at his résumé and I’m unclear what’s real–and what’s chemically enhanced. Did he really need to cheat? Sadly, the answer is no.

Catcher: Mike Piazza, New York Mets


Career year: (2000) 38 HR’s, 113 RBI’s, .324 AVG, 1.012 OPS

Years in New York: 8

Tierney’s Take: Piazza makes this list for one reason: pure, explosive, raw power. In his prime, Piazza carried the Mets and lifted an entire fan base, and was unquestionably one of the top 5 superstars in the game. His opposite-field power was frightening, and while it was painful watching him run, like Jeter, he left everything on the field, even with bad knees. A franchise-changer.

On deck: Jorge Posada

Tierney’s Take: Durable and tough, this switch-hitting power hitter was one of the elite at his position for nearly a decade. unfortunately, he was not only overshadowed by some iconic teammates, but other iconic Yankee catchers from the past as well: Berra, Dickey, Howard and Munson.

LF: Rickey Henderson, New York Yankees

Career year: (1985) 146 runs, 172 hits, 24 HR’s, 72 RBI’s, 80 SB’s, .314 AVG, 934 OPS

Years in New York: (5) Yankees, (2) Mets

Tierney’s Take: I dare you to take a pen, and while constructing baseball’s all-time line-up, scribble in a name other than “Henderson” in the leadoff spot. Perhaps no one is history made opposing pitchers sweat more than # 24. He joined power and explosion with showmanship and flair. Simply amazing to watch in his prime.

On deck: Dave Winfield, New York Yankees

Tierney’s Take: His brutal performance in the ’81 World Series drops him a peg in my opinion, combined with the fact that many of his prime years in the Bronx occurred while playing RF once Reggie Jackson left via free agency. However, Big Dave was menacing at the plate and blazing fast on the bases, while patrolling the OF with a legal firearm. One of the truly unique talents this city has ever seen.

CF: Bernie Williams, New York Yankees

Career year: (1999) 116 runs, 202 hits, 25 HR’s, 115 RBI’s, .342 AVG, .971 OPS, Gold Glove

Years in New York: 16

Tierney’s Take: A notch (or three)  behind Joe D and Mickey Mantle,  Williams embodied the Joe Torre-led teams as well as anyone other than Jeter. Clutch. Proud. Efficient. Staying power. While I’ve never touted Bernie as a Hall of Famer, and always viewed his defense as a bit overrated, # 51 was the glue in the middle of the Bombers order for years. Always an all-star, but never quite a superstar, Williams place on this particular squad however, is a lock.

On deck: Carlos Beltran, New York Mets

# 2 behind # 51

Tierney’s Take: Really, really good, no question. Just not as good, or as durable, as Bernie. If he wasn’t sentenced to 7 years in KC and one in Houston to start his career, the order in the “battle for CF” may very well be reversed. Gets the nod with the leather over Bernie, too. Plenty of skill. Think Lee Mazzilli times five.

RF: Darryl Strawberry, New York Mets

Career year: (1987) 108 runs, 39 HR’s, 104 RBI’s, .284 AVG, 36 SB’s, .981 OPS

Years in New York: Mets (8), Yankees (5)

Tierney’s Take: Who knows how many HR’s and RBI’s Straw left on bar room stools and nightclub dance floors across the city. Still, even with a strong degree of under achievement peppering his résumé, no one can deny that when # 18 dug into the batter’s box, the entire city stopped what they were doing, and watched. Icon.

On deck: Paul O’Neill, New York Yankees

Pride and Passion

Tierney’s Take: Truthfully, O’Neill was a better player than Strawberry, top to bottom, and by a fair margin. He was a better RF’er and his BA/OBP% puts Strawberry’s to shame. The more I examine this, the more I question my choice…I’ll leave this one to you, but it looks like I fell prey to style over substance. My bad.

Pitching Staff

Dwight Gooden, New York Mets/Yankees


Career Year: (1985) 24-4, 1.53 ERA, 16 CG’s, 268 K’s, 0.965 WHIP

Years in New York: Mets (11), Yankees (3)

Tierney’s Take: One of the most magical starts to any career of any New York athlete in history. When others pitched, it was a game. When Doc took the hill, especially early, it was an event. What could have been…

CC Sabbathia, New York Yankees

Career Year: (2010) 21-7, 3.18 ERA, 197 K’s, 1.191 WHIP

Years in New York: 2

Tierney’s Take: Sabathia was imported to anchor the staff and deliver a World Series, and he’s done both, navigating a brutal AL East to the tune of 40 wins and 15 losses in two splendid seasons in the Bronx. Still firmly entrenched in his prime, and extremely durable, unlike Johan Santana.

David Cone, New York Mets/Yankees

"big game" stuff, "big game" guts

Career Year: (1988) 20-3, 2.22 ERA, 213 K’s, 1.115 WHIP

 

Years in New York: Mets (7), Yankees (6)

Tierney’s Take: Regardless of which uniform he wears, I’m giving Coney the baseball before anyone else on this list in a “must have” game. Actually, behind Koufax, Whitey and Seaver, Cone makes my all-time New York Top 5 list. Nasty stuff and fearless.

Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees

Career Year: (1997) 18-7, 2.88 ERA, 166 K’s, 1.240 WHIP

Years in New York: 13

Tierney’s Take: When the season’s on the line, this guy makes sure it gets extended. His career winning % and post-season resume has put him squarely on the Hall of Fame radar. One more big season cements it, but will he return?

Mike Mussina, New York Yankees

Career Year: (2003) 17-8, 3.40 ERA, 195 K’s, 1.081 WHIP, Gold Glove

Years in New York: 8

Tierney’s Take: Aloof personality robs him of some fan support, but overall, an outstanding free agent investment by the Bombers. Reliable, durable, and early on, possessed borderline electric stuff. Bottom line, he won a lot of games in the AL East, in the “steroids” era.

Left-handed Closer: John Franco, New York Mets

Career Year: (1990) 33 saves, 2.53 ERA

Years in New York: 14

Tierney’s Take: Probably hung around a bit too long and his role of locker room lawyer hurt him in the end, but Franco was very, very good for a very, very long time.

Right-handed Closer: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

Lights out.

 

Years in New York: 16

Career Year: (1999) 45 saves, 1.83 ERA, 0.884 WHIP

Tierney’s Take: Simply the best. Ever.

Manager: Joe Torre

Years in New York: 17 years (12) with the Yankees, (5) with the Mets.

Tierney’s Take: 6 pennants and 4 World Series titles under the “watchful” eye of George Steinbrenner  elevates him to iconic status.

On deck: Davey Johnson

Years in New York: 7

Tierney’s Take: A perfect fit for the renegade Mets of the mid-80’s, but would they have won multiple titles if he ran a tighter ship? The answer is yes.

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2 Comments

  1. helyeah997

     /  01/30/2011

    I disagree with two spots. First, I think 3B is ARod one and everyone else second. DWright has played great, but ARod has won two MVPs (one being a historical year), a World Series and led his team to the playoffs almost every year. His playoff numbers are much better then he is given credit for, and the “unclutch” tag is based on a small sample size and just not right anyway.

    The other spot I’d argue is C.C. I’m kind of sad to even say it because I’m such a huge fan of the Big Man, but El Duque deserves the spot over him. I could argue other pitchers, but Duque was simply dominant in the postseason, and CC just hasn’t done it long enough. I don’t know that he earns a spot when he has been here two years, and may leave as a free agent this year (not saying he will, but he has an opt out clause and would be foolish not to if for no other reason then just to generate more money for his estate).

    -Jay

  2. helyeah997

     /  01/31/2011

    Also, I don’t think it’s fair to factor steroids into any equation. We have no idea who took what and what impact it has had on them.

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