A retired number measuring stick

Yesterday, all of our rooms got a little dusty between 11 AM and noon as Jorge Posada announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. There is no doubt that Posada was a great Yankee. He gave us so many incredible memories and I cannot wait for the day when Jorge is brought back to Yankee Stadium and given the honor of a plaque in Monument Park. As I was driving to lunch, my iPod died (as it usually does) so I flipped on sports radio (yes it sucks, but it’s better than FM) and Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts were talking about the possibility of the retirement of Posada’s number. They alluded to the fact that Bruce Bowen, he of the defensive prowess, is getting his number retired by the San Antonio Spurs; both hosts found that a little ridiculous and had a quick discussion of the standards for number retirement. Part of this is obviously an emotional discussion, but the empirical side of me had a thought. So, I decided to add up the WARs and see what the average Yankee-season WAR was for each player with a retired number.

I removed Billy Martin from the equation because he’s remembered more as a manager than as a player. The retired numbers can be found here. The total WAR (used bWAR) for these players (obviously minus Casey Stengel and Jackie Robinson) was 59.6308. Divide that by 13 to get the average, and you get 4.5870. The median WAR/Yankee season was Whitey Ford’s 3.4563 mark. So, where do Jorge and other retiree candidates (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, and Alex Rodriguez) rank?

Jorge averaged 2.7938 bWAR/Yankee season, which would put him above Elston Howard (2.2077) and just behind Don Mattingly (2.8429). Jeter has averaged 4.142 bWAR/Yankee season, which would put him ahead of Roger Maris (3.9857) but behind the ridiculousness that is the Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio foursome. Rodriguez would pass Jeter, though, as he’s averaged 5.4500 bWAR/Yankee season. Andy Pettitte comes in at 3.2615 ahead of Ron Guidry (3.1714) and behind Ford (3.4563). Surprisingly, Mariano Rivera passes Pettitte, with 3.3118. Bernie Williams and his 2.9563 would edge out Mattingly and Howard, but fall short of Guidry’s mark, as well as Phil Rizzuto’s 3.2154 (which was higher than I expected).

Am I saying that those numbers should be the benchmarks for inclusion in Monument Park? Of course not. That’s just silly. I just thought it’d be interesting to take a look at.

I’ll close this out on a non-empirical (and non-player) note: Yesterday, we also learned that the Yankee family will be saying goodbye to Kim Jones. Though I’ve never been a fan of the “sideline reports” during games (I think they break the flow of the inning completely), I always liked Kim. Her role at YES always seemed beneath her and she was put in a position to ask a lot of empty questions. Regardless of that, I always felt that she could do much more to help the broadcast. Kim has shown herself to be an intelligent and trenchant journalist, especially in the wake of the child rape scandal at her alma mater, Penn State University. I wish her the absolute best of luck in her future journalistic endeavors; whatever outlet she lands at will be lucky to have her services and call her their own.

About Matt Imbrogno

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

7 thoughts on “A retired number measuring stick

  1. A few weeks ago, we were trying to find someone in the Hall of Fame that Bill Mazeroski actually compares favorably to.

    I thought Scooter might be the guy, especially since he basically got in for a lifetime achievement award and for years his BR sponsor page insisted he was the worst player in the Hall of Fame.

    …No. And its not particularly close either. Phil Rizzuto was *much* better than I thought he was.

  2. Obviously my point is moot now but maybe they should only retire great homegrown Yankees numbers? As far as other great Yankees who aren’t homegrown numbers they should let the HOF decide that one. To me retiring numbers on a team is about the emotional connection that fanbase has with that player.

    • So we should un-retire Babe Ruth’s number? Same with Maris and Reggie Jackson?

      There’s a weird fetish with “home grown” players and becoming more attached to them, or feeling better about winning with them. I personally don’t understand it at all. If a player helps the Yankees win why should it matter how he got here? It’s ridiculous to be a fan of Montero because he came through the system, yet respect, or appreciate Pineda’s accomplishments less because he was traded for Montero.

      My favorite Yankees on the team currently in order are Rodriguez, Granderson, Sabathia, Martin, and now Pineda. Not a home grown player on the list. I personally wouldn’t feel good about the Yankees not retiring Alex’s number after all he’s done for this team simply because he came up with the Mariners and signed with the Rangers before being traded to us.

      As a Yankee alone Alex has hit 284 HRs and totaled a 48.6 WAR in 8 seasons. Considering that he has 6 more seasons left on the team he is going to post close to, if not, hall of fame numbers with the Yankees alone. Combine that with at least one, and hopefully more, World Series rings and he more than deserves his number 13 retired when his career is done.

      This rant isn’t really directed at you, I just don’t like the whole idea of home grown players being worth more, which I have seen in so many places by so many people.

      • To use an analogy its like tv vs movies. You might like movie characters a lot and they might be very memorable to if you get into a tv show from the beginning and watch a character develop you’d feel more attached to them than the movie character. The movie character’s star might burn brighter bc the protagonist was always cool from the get go but you just have more invested in the other…yeah I used to watch a lot of movies/tv growing up haha. Maybe just a player who has spent more than half of their career with the team.

        • I don’t think that analogy really fits. The difference in the movie character and TV is a couple of hours versus months or years. Alex has spent 8 years on the team, and when he’s done he’ll have played 14 years total with the Yankees. That’s an entire career for some players and would be more total time than his years with Seattle and Texas combined.

          Someone like Sabathia will have spent 8 years on the Yankees when this contract ends, and if he goes the Pettitte route he may spend 9 or 10 years with the Yankees. Guys signing long term contracts on the team aren’t around for a flash in the pan, they are here for close to a decade or more. It’s a little hard to compare that to a movie vs tv star to me.

          To me it doesn’t matter how long a player spends with the team when it comes to attachment. I’ve watched Posada play his entire career yet I don’t like the guy at all. I was glad he played so well for so many years, but I like Martin 100x more as a player/person. He’s not as good as Posada and he won’t be around even half as long but none of that matters to, I like Martin and I think Posada was kind of an ass who whined when things didn’t go his way.

  3. If a player goes into the hall of fame with the NY cap home they should have their # retired. That is my only requirement.

    • I took all the Yankees in the HOF who earned a plurality of their BWAR in pinstripes this is what I got

      Seasons as Yank/Avg BWAR perseason

      Yanks not showing love to the older Yanks.

      Rich Gossage 7 2.6
      Herb Pennock 11 2.654545455
      Jack Chesbro 7 2.942857143
      Waite Hoyt 10 3.1
      Bill Dickey 17 3.2
      Phil Rizzuto 13 3.215384615
      Yogi Berra 19 3.257894737
      Red Ruffing 15 3.313333333
      Lefty Gomez 13 3.323076923
      Whitey Ford 16 3.45625
      Earle Combs 12 3.558333333
      Tony Lazzeri 12 3.883333333
      Joe Gordon 7 5.185714286
      Joe DiMaggio 13 6.430769231
      Mickey Mantle 18 6.677777778
      Lou Gehrig 17 6.964705882
      Babe Ruth 15 9.973333333