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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yankees Core Four: Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera - in that order.

Original posting date: August 25, 2011

Four players from the Yankee WS winners of 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009 have been dubbed the core four: Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera.  Recently some pundits have taken to ranking them.  I rate them in the order listed.  In order to demonstrate their cleverness,  some, including a couple of young guns on ESPN radio, insist on ranking Rivera first.

Mariano Rivera is the best ever at what he does.  However, what he does is not that valuable and has been done for only about twenty years.  The closer role is easily the most overrated, overblown in baseball history.  Calling Rivera the greatest closer of all time is a big fat so what.  He generally pitches one inning every other game ... at most.

Pitchers are part time players.  A closer is a part time pitcher.  Pitching collectively dominates baseball but individual pitchers do not.  See:

Hall of Fame: why elect ANY pitchers?

In 2009 Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter had 206 put outs and 340 assists. Jeter was involved in about 37% of the outs recorded by the Yankees. Plus, he created 123 runs with his batting. The Yankee's ace starter CC Sabathia struck out 230 batters, 5.25% of the outs recorded by the Yankees. Sabathia had 3 put outs and 28 assists. Sabathia created zero runs batting. Jeter plays full time. Sabathia plays part time. Part time players should not be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Jeter is clearly number one.  Posada has become a convenient whipping boy.  Yesterday I heard a caller to a sports radio program go unchallenged when he criticized Posada for not blocking the plate during his Yankee career.  Did this caller ever hear of Buster Posey, the Giants young catcher who was injured trying to block the plate early in 2011 and is out for the season?  No manager wants to lose his starting catcher due to the catcher trying to block the plate.

The only Yankee catchers with at least 500 plate appearances in multiple seasons:

Posada's OPS+ is a shade behind Dickey and Berra.  The primary reason that Posada will not be elected to the Hall of Fame is that he did not hit in the playoffs.

Pettitte comes before Rivera.  So: Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera.

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