There are so many great players in Yankee history and so many great seasons by Yankee players that we sometimes overlook the player and/or the season. Maybe it’s because he was more well known with other teams, maybe it’s because he was on the Yankees before I was sentient, but sometimes I forget that Rickey Henderson was a Yankee. While his entire career was brilliant–and his time with the Yankees equally brilliant–1985 was the finest of those seasons. What does that have to do with 14? In 1985, Rickey Henderson racked up 9.8 bWAR, good for 14th all time on the Yankees’ single season list (he’s tied with Babe Ruth).
That year, Henderson led the league (shocking, I know) with 80 steals (he was caught just ten times). He also led the league in runs with 146. He led the AL in bWAR (9.8); was fourth in BA (.314); fourth in OBP (.419); seventh in SLG (.516); third in OPS (.934); fourth in walks (99); and second in OPS+ (157). His OPS/OPS+ marks were the second highest in his career, trailing only 1990 (1.016/189). For good measure, he added 24 homers, the second most of his career (28 in 1990 and 1986).
Not surprisingly, Henderson made the All Star team that year and won a Silver Slugger. He did not, however, win MVP. He finished in third place behind George Brett of Kansas City. The winner was Henderson’s teammate, Don Mattingly.
Rickey played just eight games in April, and didn’t play well, but smacked the ball around for most of the rest of the season. He OPS’d .991 in May; 1.123 in June; and 1.059 in July. He “slowed down” in August and September, but still OBP’d .377 and .401 in those months. In ’85, Henderson obviously terrorized everyone, but there were a few exceptions. The only teams that Henderson failed to put up an .800 or better OPS against were the Red Sox (.703); Angels (.715); and Brewers (.699).
Rickey Henderson was a special player and 1985 was definitely a special year for him.