• Best Seasons By Yankees First Basemen

    Posted by on January 13th, 2007 · Comments (19)

    Continuing with the WasWatching.com Yankees “ten best seasons” (ever) series, today we look at first basemen. Here is what I believe are the top ten seasons for Yankees first basemen, with stats via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia:

    Click on the list below for a larger view ~

    This just in: That Gehrig guy was pretty good with the stick! The Iron Horse runs the table here – posting the ten best seasons ever for a Yankees first sacker. What about since the days of Gehrig? Here’s how this top ten broke down after the 1938 season:

    Click on the list below for a larger view ~

    Interesting! Giambi and Mattingly pretty much own this one. When I see this, the first thing that comes to my mind is that the great Yankees offensive first basemen came during the days of Gehrig and the days of Mattingly and Giambi.

    Didn’t the Yankees win a lot of rings in the 1940′s, 1950′s, 1960′s and 1970′s? You would think that they had big hitting 1B’s on those teams, no? Well, check out this slice of the Yankees first basemen ten best seasons, covering seasons from 1939 to 1980:

    Click on the list below for a larger view ~

    We’re not exactly seeing Hall of Fame type seasons here, are we? And, this is the best of the ’40′s, 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.

    Maybe the Yankees can win a ring this season with Rico Bergman playing first?

    Comments on Best Seasons By Yankees First Basemen

    1. jonm
      January 13th, 2007 | 1:51 pm

      Aren’t you a little bothered by the fact that your second list shows Giambi as a Yankee to be just about as good a hitter as Don Mattingly in his prime? I am. There has to be some sort of era adjustment to make these meaningful, I think.

    2. baileywalk
      January 13th, 2007 | 4:05 pm

      Giambi was still at his best in 2002, and in their primes, Mattingly and Giambi were on the same level.

      Giambi had the higher OBP and hit more home runs, but Mattingly generally had the higher batting average and drove in more runs.

      As a Yankee, Mattingly clearly was better (though Giambi gets the first slot). But overall, I think they seem to be pretty comparable.

    3. singledd
      January 13th, 2007 | 5:27 pm

      ahhhh… Ronny Blomberg – the Burger King. What might have been. (ALs FIRST DH AB)

      The third list is pretty weak. Mic was all but wheelchair bound by 1967, yet still he was #6.

      I thought maybe Pepitone might eek in there.
      Danny Cater had a couple of pretty good years.

      I dont know if the 20′s and 30′s were ‘live baseball’ years, but Lou G. with 10 straight years of better then a 1.000 OPS… seven of them better then 1.100. Simply Amazing. I didn’t know he was that good. Were the Babe’s numbers that good over the same 10 years?

    4. NewAmsterdamYanks
      January 13th, 2007 | 5:46 pm

      “Lou G. with 10 straight years of better then a 1.000 OPS… seven of them better then 1.100. Simply Amazing. I didn’t know he was that good. Were the Babe’s numbers that good over the same 10 years?”

      Coincidentally, I was just looking at that earlier today; Ruth put up an OPS over 1.000 in 14 out of 15 seasons from 1919 to 1933, broken up only by a .936 in 1925, in only 98 games. ALL of them were over 1.100 expect 1933. It’s crazy.

      As for the Mattingly vs. Giambi issue, OPS+ adjusts for league averages, and it has Giambi at 174 in 2002, compared to Mattingly’s 161 in 1986. I’m not familiar with the OWP stat Steve lists beyond the name, but that might account for era as well.

    5. January 13th, 2007 | 7:02 pm

      ~~~There has to be some sort of era adjustment to make these meaningful, I think.~~~

      RCAA does that – it makes the adjustment for the era, FYI.

    6. j
      January 13th, 2007 | 7:02 pm

      Steve- Here’s a question. How low on the full list do you have to go to find a name thats not Lou Gehrig?

    7. January 13th, 2007 | 7:52 pm

      ~~~I’m not familiar with the OWP stat Steve lists beyond the name~~~

      Here’s more:

      A player’s Offensive Winning Percentage equals the percentage of games a team would win with nine of that player in its lineup, given average pitching and defense. The formula is the square of Runs Created per 27 Outs, divided by the sum of the square of Runs Created per 27 Outs and the square of the league average of runs per game.

      That is a whole heap of a lot of math. But, in the end, it yields a nice number that a baseball fan with a modicum of hardball knowledge can equate in their minds. Almost all fans know that a baseball team that plays to a “.600” winning percentage is a very good team. Related, a player with an Offensive Winning Percentage of “.600” (or better) is also a very good batter.

    8. January 13th, 2007 | 7:54 pm

      ~~~Here’s a question. How low on the full list do you have to go to find a name thats not Lou Gehrig?~~~

      Giambi in 2002 is # 11. Tino Martinez in 1997, at # 19, is the first season for a guy not named Gehrig, Giambi or Mattingly.

    9. NewAmsterdamYanks
      January 13th, 2007 | 8:47 pm

      Thanks Steve, that makes sense, and it’s a fun stat to play around with. How else would we know that an offense of 9 Lou Gehrigs would have been roughly a 22-win improvement over the already 110-44 1927 Yankees? I noticed, though, that baseball-reference.com has different numbers for RC/27 than you. Any idea why that is?

    10. NewAmsterdamYanks
      January 13th, 2007 | 9:05 pm

      “9 Lou Gehrigs would have been roughly a 22-win improvement over the already 110-44 1927 Yankees”

      Probably more now that I think about it, seeing as the 1927 Yankees pitching was decidedly not average; 3.86 R/G (with a 3.20 ERA) against an AL average of 4.92 R/G (4.14 ERA).

    11. j
      January 13th, 2007 | 9:41 pm

      Referring back to the Yankees book post, I just finished “Luckiest Man.” There’s a section in there where the author projects Gehrig’s stats had he not gotten sick, which really opened my eyes to how much of an offensive monster he was. He projected better than or comparable to Cobb and Ruth in just about every category and the argument could have been made that he had not had ALS, he might have been the best ever. I’ll grab the numbers is anyone’s interested.

    12. jonm
      January 14th, 2007 | 12:58 am

      ~~~RCAA does that – it makes the adjustment for the era, FYI.~~~

      Wow, I guess that means that it would be very hard to say that Giambi has been a disappointment as a Yankee. Essentially, he’s produced like peak Mattingly in the batters box.

    13. January 14th, 2007 | 8:56 am

      Only if you give him a pass for 2004 – and also for the drop in his production from the 2002 level to his current levels.

    14. January 14th, 2007 | 9:00 am

      ~~~I noticed, though, that baseball-reference.com has different numbers for RC/27 than you. Any idea why that is?~~~

      Runs Created is an estimate of the number of runs that a player would produce based on his offensive statistics – it is an attempt to measure total offensive contribution in terms of runs. The formula for Runs Created is long and complex. The “modern” version of it is:

      = ((H+BB+HBP-CS-GIDP) * (TB+ 0.26*(BB+HBP-IBB) + 0.52*(SB+SH+SF)))/(AB+BB+HBP+SH+SF)

      “Modern” is noted because many variations of the basic formula are used to adjust for available data and other factors in bygone eras.

      Maybe B-R uses a different formula than the CBE.

    15. January 14th, 2007 | 9:02 am

      ~~~He projected better than or comparable to Cobb and Ruth in just about every category and the argument could have been made that he had not had ALS, he might have been the best ever. I’ll grab the numbers is anyone’s interested.~~~

      You just convinced me that I have to read that book!

    16. jonm
      January 14th, 2007 | 10:55 am

      ~~~Only if you give him a pass for 2004 – and also for the drop in his production from the 2002 level to his current levels.~~~

      Grasping at straws a bit, Steve? The fact of the matter is that 4 out of 5 of Giambi’s seasons at the plate fit right within the context of Mattingly in the 80s. We know that you have an emotional disregard for Giambi. That’s fine, but you really shouldn’t go about cherry-picking factoids to justify that emotional disregard.

    17. RICH
      January 14th, 2007 | 11:02 am

      Of course Giambi’s been a disappointment. It’s because he was seen at an offseason party by a respected magazine. Why wasn’t he working out?

      And he has tatoos.

      When he’s been a player on a Yankee team that’s won as many world championships as Mattingly has then we’ll revisit whether or not he’s been a success.

    18. Paul
      January 14th, 2007 | 2:40 pm

      Considering Mattingly and Giambi temporarily as equals in terms of batting is interesting. However one was a sparkling 1B player and the other was born to play DH. Yet both were expected to serve as 1B.

      I am not sure how anyone could view Giambi as anything other than a disappointment as a Yankee. He has played on occasion a barely adequate 1B and mostly a woefully substandard position. Yet he continues to pull down one of the top 5 salaries in baseball.

    19. RICH
      January 14th, 2007 | 3:11 pm

      I don’t consider Giambi’s performance as a Yankee disappointing. If anything, it’s been than what I thought it would be all in all. He’s not a spring chicken.

      When you bring up his salary then you should blame who offered him the money, not the person who accepted it.

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