Yankees record book
Some of these records you probably know. Some you may not know. Either way, we'll try to put some of the greatest Yankees careers and achievements into context.
Records accurate as of the end of the 2011 season.
CAREER GAMES PLAYED: DEREK JETER, 2,426
Runner up: Mickey Mantle, 2,401
Derek Jeter passed Mickey Mantle in all-time games played as a Yankee. Jeter has played in at least 140 games in 14 of his 16 full seasons.
CAREER RUNS: BABE RUTH, 1,959
Runner up: Lou Gehrig, 1,888
Active leader: Derek Jeter, 1,769
The grainy images of a portly Ruth chugging around the bases after swatting home runs belie his run-scoring prowess. Babe led the majors in runs eight times, including 1921, when he scored 177 runs, the highest total of the 20th Century. His reputation as a fearsome slugger forced pitchers to put him on base via the walk, and he was a recklessly aggressive baserunner. Of course, it helps that he drove himself in 659 times (as a Yankee) with the long ball.
CAREER HITS: DEREK JETER, 3,088
Runner up: Lou Gehrig, 2,721
Jeter became the first Yankee in history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau in 2011. He hit a third inning home run off Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price on July 3, 2011.
CAREER DOUBLES: LOU GEHRIG, 534
Runner up/active leader: Derek Jeter, 492
Here's another record Jeter has a shot to break. He's 42 doubles behind Gehrig. Even if he averages just 21 doubles over the next two seasons (below his career average of 31 per season), he'll pass Gehrig in 2013 at age 39. It would be an impressive feat, although not as impressive as Gehrig averaging 42 doubles from 1926-34.
CAREER TRIPLES: LOU GEHRIG, 163
Runner up: Earle Combs, 154
Active leader: Derek Jeter, 65
In its early days, the gargantuan Yankee Stadium outfield was a triples paradise. The slow-footed Gehrig benefitted from a left-centerfield wall that was 490 feet from home plate, while dead centerfield was 487 feet away. He smacked double-digit triples every year from 1925-31, and again in 1933 and '35. By comparison, the current Yankee Stadium yields far fewer triples -- even the speedy Jeter has never hit more than nine in a season.
CAREER HOME RUNS: BABE RUTH, 659
Runner up: Mickey Mantle, 536
Active leader: Alex Rodriguez, 284
Who else but the man who single-handedly killed the "Dead Ball Era?" The majors' third-all time home run leader belted 40-plus home runs 11 times in his remarkable Yankees career. During a 13-year span from 1920-32, he averaged 46 homers, better than any span of the same length for Barry Bonds or Hank Aaron. He did this while playing most of his career in a ballpark that yielded virtually no home runs to centerfield and left-centerfield. For a Yankees player to someday pass Ruth, he'd have to average 33 home runs for 20 seasons, or 40 home runs for 17 seasons.
CAREER RBIs: LOU GEHRIG, 1,995
Runner up: Babe Ruth, 1,971
Active leader: Derek Jeter, 1,196
Though Ruth (above, right) ranks second all-time in MLB runs batted in (Gehrig is fifth), Gehrig tops him in Yankee RBIs. From 1927-37, Gehrig averaged 153 RBIs per season. That included his career best 184-RBI season in 1931, one of four seasons in which he led the majors and one of three in which he topped 170 RBIs. Baseball-reference.com estimates that Gehrig earned $360,250 in his career. What would that kind of production been worth today?
CAREER STOLEN BASES: DEREK JETER, 339
Runner up: Rickey Henderson, 326
Jeter finally passed Henderson in 2011 as the Yankees all-time stolen base leader. However, Henderson spent parts of just five seasons in the Bronx while 2012 marks Jeter's 17th season in pinstripes.
ROY WHITE, LF
.271, 160 HR, 758 RBIs
Roy White spent his entire 15 year career (1965-1979) with the Yankees. He was named to two All-Star teams and won two World Series. White led the American League in walks in 1972 and runs in 1976.
CAREER BASES ON BALLS: BABE RUTH, 1,852
Runner up: Mickey Mantle, 1,733
Active leader: Derek Jeter, 994
Only Rickey Henderson and Barry Bonds drew more walks in MLB history than Ruth. No statistics were kept on intentional walks during the Babe's days, but it's safe to say more than a few hurlers pitched around the original Bronx Bomber. From the time he joined the Yankees in 1920 until his departure in 1934, he led the majors in walks 11 times, averaging 145 a season.
CAREER TIMES STRUCK OUT: MICKEY MANTLE, 1,710
Runner up/active leader: Derek Jeter, 1,653
Among other things, Mantle is remembered for his tape-measure long balls. He once cleared the roof of Tiger Stadium and is thought to be the only man to have homered over the 22-foot batters' eye past the centerfield wall at Old Yankee Stadium. The downside of hitting those monstrous home runs is that you sometimes sacrifice plate discipline. Still, Mantle had a .298 career average and walked 23 more times (1,733) than he struck out.
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: BABE RUTH, .349
(min. 500 plate appearances)
Runner up: Lou Gehrig, .340
Active leader: Derek Jeter, .313
His gaudy average is one of the reason why many historians still consider The Babe to be the greatest hitter of all-time. While many of today's best home run hitters sacrifice average for power, Ruth proved the best players don't need to do that. He batted over .300 in every season in which he hit 30 home runs or more, including: 1923, when he batted .393 and hit 41 home runs; 1924 when he hit .378 with 46 home runs; and 1927, when he hit .356 with 60 home runs.
CAREER ON-BASE PERCENTAGE: BABE RUTH, .484
(min. 500 plate appearances)
Runner up: Lou Gehrig, .447
Active leader: Alex Rodriguez, .391
Career batting average leader + career walks later = career on-base percentage leader. Ruth excelled at getting on base, a huge part of the reason he is also the Yankees' career runs leader. In fact, only Ted Williams had a higher career on-base percentage (.482) in MLB history than Ruth.
CAREER SLUGGING PERCENTAGE: BABE RUTH, .711
(min. 500 plate appearances)
Runner up: Lou Gehrig, .632
Active leader: Alex Rodriguez, .550
If MLB ever creates a slugging percentage award, they should name it after Ruth. The Babe owned this category, even more than he owned home runs, RBIs, batting average or on-base percentage. He led the majors in slugging 11 times during his 15-year Yankees career and his Yankees slugging percentage of .711 is actually higher than his career percentage of .690, which is the best in MLB history.
SINGLE-SEASON BATTING AVERAGE: BABE RUTH (1923), .393
Runner up: Joe DiMaggio (1939), .381
In 1923, Ruth led the majors in runs, home runs, RBIs, walks, strikeouts, on-base percentage and slugging and set a career-high with a .393 average. Shockingly, that was his only MVP season. Almost as shocking is the fact that DiMaggio's 1939 season (not the one that contained his 56-game hit streak -- that was '41) is the only one of his 13 seasons that appears on the Yankees' top 10 list in this category. Ruth and Lou Gehrig have the other nine spots.
SINGLE-SEASON SLUGGING PERCENTAGE: BABE RUTH (1920), .847
Runner up: Babe Ruth (1921), .846
Ruth's dominance in this category is hard to put into context, but we'll try. Ruth owns eight of top 10 best single-season slugging percentages in Yankee history and four of the top eight in MLB history. Only Lou Gehrig -- not A-Rod, Mantle, DiMaggio, or Reggie -- appears on the Yankee top 10 list alongside Ruth. Barry Bonds, who hit 73 home runs and had a .863 slugging percentage in 2001, is the only player who has ever had a better slugging season than Ruth in 1920.
SINGLE-SEASON AT-BATS: ALFONSO SORIANO (2002), 696
Runner up: Bobby Richardson (1962), 692
This one will probably raise some eyebrows. But not if you consider that the best way to rack up a lot of at-bats is to swing at everything and avoid walks at all costs. That sums up Soriano, who in 2002 walked just 23 times in 741 plate appearances (roughly 3 percent of his times at the plate). Richardson was similarly indiscriminate in 1962, walking 37 times in 754 PAs (4.9 percent of the time).
SINGLE-SEASON RUNS SCORED: BABE RUTH (1921), 177
Runner up: Lou Gehrig (1936), 167
A breakdown of Ruth's runs in 1921: He drove himself in 59 times with home runs. He got himself into scoring position another 60 times with 44 doubles and a career-best 16 triples. He also stole 17 bases. He batted third, ahead of Bob Meusel (135 RBIs) and Wally Pipp (97 RBIs). That's a recipe for 177 runs.
SINGLE-SEASON HITS: DON MATTINGLY (1986), 238
Runner up: Earle Combs (1927), 231
One year after winning the AL MVP in 1985, Mattingly had an even better year in 1986, setting career highs in runs (117), hits (238), doubles (53), average (.352), on-base percentage (.394) and slugging percentage (.573). But he lost out on a second MVP award to Roger Clemens, who went 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA and 238 strikeouts for the Red Sox and also won the AL Cy Young.
SINGLE-SEASON DOUBLES: DON MATTINGLY (1986), 53
Runner up: Lou Gehrig (1927), 52
Mattingly was a prototype pre-steroid era first baseman: High average, good power, great defense and lots of doubles. He wore out the left-centerfield grass at Yankee Stadium by driving so many of his shots up that alley. Only 25 MLB players have ever hit more doubles in a season than Donnie Baseball in 1986.
SINGLE-SEASON TRIPLES: EARLE COMBS (1927), 23
Runner up: Earle Combs (1930), 22
Combs was a great centerfielder on the Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig-era Yankees. He had terrific speed and took full advantage of the large dimensions in the original Yankee Stadium outfield. Known as a gentleman on and off the field, when he was inducted into the Cooperstown in 1970, Combs said, "I thought the Hall of Fame was for superstars, not just average players like me."
SINGLE-SEASON HOME RUNS: ROGER MARIS (1961), 61
Runner up: Babe Ruth (1927), 60
One of the most famous records in baseball history. Maris (above, left) and Mickey Mantle (above, right) chased Ruth's MLB record of 60 home runs in 1961, with Mantle cast as the people's champion and Maris as the stoic outsider. Mantle succumbed to a bad hip and Maris eclipsed Ruth's record on Oct. 1, 1961. But that came with controversy, too, as commissioner Ford Frick noted Ruth's record had been broken in a 162-game season, not a 154-game season as Ruth had played in 1927. Maris' record was surpassed by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 and Barry Bonds in 2001 -- under far more dubious circumstances.
SINGLE-SEASON RBIs: LOU GEHRIG (1931), 184
Runner up: Lou Gehrig (1927), 175
The second-best run-producing season in major league history and one of seven times Gehrig drove in 150 or more runs in one year. In 1931, Gehrig scored 163 runs, had 46 home runs, 31 doubles, 15 triples, a .341 average, a .446 on-base percentage and 17 stolen bases. He lost out on winning the AL MVP to Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Lefty Grove, who went 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA.
SINGLE-SEASON BASES ON BALLS: BABE RUTH (1923), 170
Runner up: Babe Ruth (1920), 150
Ruth's 170 walks stood as a major league record for 78 years until Barry Bonds broke it in 2001 (and again in 2002 and 2004). Playing in an era when reputation might have been all that opposing pitchers had to go on, Ruth was an intimidating sight in the batters' box. It's not surprising to learn that his name appears eight times on the Yankees' top ten single-season walks list. (Above: Ruth, left, with fellow slugger Jimmie Foxx.)
SINGLE-SEASON TIMES STRUCK OUT: CURTIS GRANDERSON (2011), 169
Runner up: Alfonso Soriano (2002), 157
Curtis Granderson had a career-high 41 home runs and 119 RBI in 2011, but those numbers came at the expense of 169 strikeouts -- a new Yankee record. Surprisingly, this mark was not Granderson's career-high (He struck out 174 times for the Detroit Tigers in 2005).
RICKEY HENDERSON, LF
.288, 78 HR, 255 RBIs
Henderson played for the Yankees from 1985-1989 and owns the top three stolen base seasons in Yankees history. Henderson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 and holds MLB records in career stolen bases, runs scored, unintentional walks and leadoff home runs.
CAREER WINS: WHITEY FORD, 236
Runner up: Red Ruffing, 231
Active leader: Mariano Rivera, 75
"The Chairman of the Board" was a Queens native and Hall of Fame starter who spent his entire 18-year career with the Yankees. Unlike his counterparts in the batting order, Ford won games with guile and control rather than power. He won six World Series rings and a Cy Young Award in 1961. Closer Mariano Rivera became the active Yankees leader with 74 wins, but C.C. Sabathia can pass that mark with 17 wins this season.
MEL STOTTLEMEYER, P
164-139, 2.97 ERA
Mel Stottlemeyer spent his entire 11 year playing career (1964-1974) with the Yankees. He was named to five All-Star teams. Stottlemeyer also was part of four Yankees championship teams (1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000) as a pitching coach.
CAREER ERA: RICH GOSSAGE, 2.14
(minimum 500 innings pitched)
Runner up/active leader: Mariano Rivera, 2.21
Goose Gossage was the Yankees' top bullpen ace from 1978-83. In those six seasons, he never had an ERA higher than 2.62 (He also had a 3.77 ERA in 11 appearances in 1989). His dominance as a reliever is best represented by the fact that traditionally starter-biased Cy Young voters placed him in the top five in the balloting in three of his Yankee seasons. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. The top career ERA among Yankees with at least 50 starts belongs to Russ Ford, who had a 2.54 ERA from 1909-1913.
CAREER APPEARANCES: MARIANO RIVERA, 978
Runner up: Dave Righetti, 522
"The Sandman" has entered more ballgames than any other Yankees pitcher, almost by a factor of two. If he makes just 66 more appearances, he'll have double the appearances of his closest competitor, Dave Righetti. Rivera's reliability, durability and dominance are the biggest reasons he's lasted 16 magnificent seasons in Pinstripes.
CAREER COMPLETE GAMES: RED RUFFING, 261
Runner up: Lefty Gomez, 173
Active leader: CC Sabathia, 7
Ruffing, a Hall of Fame righthander, is the second-best player the Yankees have ever acquired from Boston. Ten years after they got Babe Ruth from their rivals, the Yankees got Ruffing from the Red Sox in 1930 for part-time player Cedric Durst and $50,000. Ruffing went on to pitch 17 seasons for the Yankees, completing 18 or more games 10 times. He is second to Whitey Ford in career wins.
CAREER SHUTOUTS: WHITEY FORD, 45
Runner up: Red Ruffing, 40
Active leader: C.C. Sabathia, 2
Ford averaged almost three shutouts per year in his 18 seasons, including his career-high eight-shutout season in 1964. Unbreakable? Yeah, you could say that. Especially when you consider C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes are the only current Yankees pitchers with at least one Yankee shutout.
CAREER WHIP: MARIANO RIVERA, 1.004
(minimum 500 innings pitched)
Runner up: Rich Gossage, 1.079
A huge reason for Rivera's success through the years is that he simply doesn't allow baserunners. He's stingy with hits and even stingier with walks. Since 1996, he's never walked more than 25 men in a season. More remarkably, he's gotten better with age: In five of his last six seasons, he's allowed fewer walks and hits combined that he's had innings pitched.
CAREER SAVES: MARIANO RIVERA, 603
Runner up: Dave Righetti, 224
Simply, the greatest reliever in the history of baseball. He passed Trevor Hoffman (601) in 2011 for first place on the all-time saves list. He's been remarkably consistent, saving 30 or more games in all but one of his seasons since becoming the closer in 1997. He's finished in the top five in Cy Young balloting five times, which isn't easy to do when you're a reliever.
CAREER INNINGS PITCHED: WHITEY FORD, 3,170.1
Runner up: Red Ruffing, 3,168.2
Active leader: Mariano Rivera, 1,211.1
Ford narrowly eclipsed Red Ruffing's career innings mark, surpassing him in the second-to-last appearance of his career. Ford's endurance helped him throw 156 complete games and set Yankees career records in games started as well as wins and shutouts. To pass Ford, a pitcher would have to average 200 innings a season for 16 years.
CAREER STRIKEOUTS: WHITEY FORD, 1,956
Runner up: Andy Pettitte, 1,823
Active leader: Mariano Rivera, 1,111
The Yankees have never had a prototypical strikeout pitcher on their team for long enough to tear up the career strikeouts list. Whitey Ford, their career leader, only struck out 200 batters in a season once. His career total of 1,956 doesn't even rank in the top 70 all-time in MLB. Ron Guidry, the single-season strikeout leader, is third with 1,778 strikeouts. If he had played more than 13 seasons, he undoubtedly would passed Ford.
SINGLE-SEASON WINS: JACK CHESBRO (1904), 41
Runners up: Al Orth (1906) and Carl Mays (1921), 27
"Happy Jack" Chesbro actually played for the New York Highlanders, the turn of the century ancestors of the Yankees. In 1906, he recorded 41 of the Yankees' 90 victories -- and the team still finished in second place. Chesbro's mark has stood as an AL record for 106 years, and considering no pitcher has won more than 30 games since 1968, we think it's pretty safe to say it'll remain in the record books for another 106 years.
SINGLE-SEASON ERA BY A STARTER: SPUD CHANDLER (1943), 1.64
Runner up: Russ Ford (1910) and Carl Mays (1919), 1.65
Spud Chandler (above, left) had only one truly great season in his 11 years in the majors -- 1943. He made 30 starts, went 20-4, had 20 complete games and five shutouts, a WHIP of 0.99, an ERA of 1.64 and became the only Yankees pitcher ever to win the American League MVP award. His 1.64 ERA was the best mark by any major league pitcher from 1920 until 1968, when Bob Gibson posted a 1.12 ERA.
SINGLE-SEASON ERA BY A RELIEVER: MARIANO RIVERA (2005), 1.38
(minimum 50 appearances or 100 IP)
Runner up: Mariano Rivera (2008), 1.40
Although Rivera doesn't normally pitch enough innings to qualify for ERA records, if we tweak the requirements slightly, permitting pitchers with at least 50 appearances to qualify, Rivera owns the top two spots. (Steve Farr, who had a 1.56 ERA in 50 appearances in 1992 would be third on the list). We admit these rules may favor today's relievers, who aren't forced to throw as many innings as their predecessors, but Rivera's numbers are so good, it's tough to argue he doesn't belong at the top of this list.
SINGLE-SEASON LOSSES: JOE LAKE (1908), 22
Runners up: Four pitchers, 21
Lake pitched for the New York Highlanders in 1908, who lost 103 games in the worst season in franchise history. Lake went 9-22 with a 3.17 ERA as a rookie that year. The Brooklyn native spent one more season with Yankees and four more in the majors after that. The Highlanders became the Yankees in 1913 and since then the franchise has never lost more than 95 games in 98 seasons.
SINGLE-SEASON APPEARANCES: PAUL QUANTRILL (2004), 86
Runner up: Scott Proctor (2006), 83
After a lack of quality relief was cited in their 2003 World Series loss to the Marlins, the Yankees signed Quantrill in the offseason. He quickly became a Joe Torre favorite and went on to lead the AL in appearances in '04, even though he struggled badly in the second half and finished the season with a 4.72 ERA. He was traded to San Diego the following year.
SINGLE-SEASON COMPLETE GAMES: JACK CHESBRO (1904), 48
Runner up: Joe McGinnity (1901), 39
The most unbreakable of Yankee records is Jack Chesbro's 48 complete games in 1904 (the same year he won an AL-record 41 games). Considering today's best pitchers only start about 35 games per season, the thought of someone even having the opportunity to match Chesbro's feat is pure fantasy. Chesbro's mark, by the way, is nowhere near the major league record of 75 complete games thrown by Will White in 1879. Hope they had icepacks back then.
SINGLE-SEASON SHUTOUTS: RON GUIDRY (1978), 9
Runner up: Russ Ford (1910) and Whitey Ford (1964), 8
Guidry's 1978 season is arguably the best in modern Yankees history. He went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA, nine shutouts, 248 strikeouts and a major league-best 0.946 WHIP. He won the AL Cy Young and finished second in MVP voting. To put Guidry's shutout feat in perspective, no Yankees pitcher has thrown more than three whitewashes in a season since David Wells had five in 1998.
SINGLE-SEASON INNINGS PITCHED: JACK CHESBRO (1904), 454.2
Runner up: Jack Powell (1904), 390.1
The two highest innings pitched totals in franchise history were posted in 1904, when Jack Chesbro and Jack Powell started 96 of the Highlanders' 151 games and threw 845 combined innings. The tandem also combined for 86 complete games and had 64 of the Yankees' 92 wins. Compare that to 2010, when the Yankees' CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett combined for 424.1 innings, 31 wins and three complete games.
SINGLE-SEASON WHIP: RUSS FORD (1910), 0.881
Runner up: Jack Chesbro (1904), 0.937
Russ Ford pitched five seasons for the New York Highlanders/Yankees from 1909-1913. His best came in 1910, when he went 26-6 with a 1.65 ERA, eight shutouts and an impressively low 0.88 WHIP. He also allowed an MLB-best 5.8 hits per nine innings, which is the 12th best single-season figure in baseball history.
SINGLE-SEASON SAVES: MARIANO RIVERA (2004), 53
Runner up: Mariano Rivera (2001), 50
Who else but Mo? Eight of the top 10 Yankees save seasons belong to Rivera, including Nos. 1 and 2. it took him until 2001 to leapfrog Dave Righetti's 46 saves into first in Yankees history. Interestingly, he had just 36 saves in the Yankees' franchise-best 114-win season in 1998. Rivera missed the first four weeks of that season with a groin problem, which probably cost him a chance at five or six extra saves.
RON GUIDRY, P
170-91, 3.29 ERA
In 1978, Ron "Louisiana Lightning" Guidry set a Yankees franchise record with 248 strikeouts -- one of two 200-plus strikeout seasons in his career. Guidry was a two-time All-Star, four-time World Series champion, five-time Gold Glove Award winner and 1978 AL Cy Young Award winner.