The Yankees have had a lot of All-Stars throughout the years, but which position players have had the best half-seasons at their respective positions all-time? (Keep in mind, the first All-Star Game was in 1933).
The New York Yankees are one of the greatest sports franchises in history, so they certainly have a wide selection of amazing all-star’s in their team’s history.
If we had to assemble a lineup consisting of their greatest stars, who would be involved?
Let’s take a look:
Bill Dickey (1936)
Posada? Munson? Yogi? Nope. No, to find the best first half for a catcher in Yankees history we have to go all the way back to Bill Dickey’s 1936 campaign.
In just 57 games and 250 plate appearances, Dickey hit 15 home runs, walked 26 times, struck out just seven times, and slashed an insane .369/.440/.703 while racking up 156 total bases.
For some context on just how amazing Dickey’s first half was in 1936, in 2000, Jorge Posada had 14 home runs, slashed .309/.447/.535 and amassed 137 total bases in 79 games and 322 plate appearances.
Honorable Mentions: Dickey in 1938, Berra in 1956, Elston Howard in 1961, and Hip Hip Jorge in 2000.
Lou Gehrig (1936)
This is basically a pick ’em between Lou Gehrig’s 1934 and 1936 campaigns. I’m going to go with his 1936 season where he hit 20 home runs, slashed .389/.494/.708, and amassed 204 total bases in 74 games and 348 plate appearances.
Robinson Cano (2010)
This one was difficult, but ultimate Robinson Cano’s 2010 first half stood above the rest. In 87 games and 378 plate appearances, Cano hit 16 home runs, slashed .336/.389/.556 and tallied 190 total bases.
Cano’s half-season barely edged out Joe Gordon‘s 1942 first-half in which he slashed .348/.411/.487.
Honorable Mentions: Gordon in 1942, Soriano in 2002, Lazzeri in 1933, Gleyber 2018
Robin Ventura 2002.
In 2007, A-Rod hit 30 home runs…
Ahem, yes, A-Rod hit 30 home runs and slashed .316/.412/.663 in 85 games and 381 plate appearances. Rodriguez compiled 212 total bases en route to another MVP season. This was by far the best first half by a Yankees third baseman in history.
Derek Jeter (1999)
Derek Jeter’s MVP Season, Derek Jeter hit 14 home runs and slashed an absurd .371/.454/.611 in 85 games and 395 plate appearances prior to the All-Star Break. While this was easily The Captain’s best first half of his career, his average half-seasons rank up there with the best the Yankees have ever had to offer.
Since MLB has not differentiated between outfield positions since 1965, I will select the three best Outfield half-seasons, regardless of position.
OF Number 3:
Babe Ruth (1933)
In 1933 Babe Ruth, at the age of 38, and playing in the first-ever All-Star Game, had 18 first-half home runs and slashed .312/.456/.568 while totaling 142 bases in 316 plate appearances over 71 games. Had the midsummer classic been instituted earlier, I have no doubt he would be at the top of this list as this was at the tail end of The Babe’s unbelievable career.
OF Number 2:
Aaron Judge (2017)
Just last year a rookie standing 6’8″ tall named Aaron Judge gave us a first-half performance for the ages. The Judge slugged 30 home runs and slashed .329/.448/.691 with 208 total bases in 84 games and 366 plate appearances. Good for the second best outfield first-half in Yankees history and giving A-Rod’s 2007 a run for his money.
OF Number 1:
Mickey Mantle (1957)
Wow, who could have topped The Babe and Aaron Judge? None other than The Mick.
In 1957, Mickey Mantle was on another planet. Mantle hit 22 home runs and slashed .369/.533/.709. Yes, you read that correctly. Mantle reached base in over 53% of his 345 plate appearances in 77 games prior to the All-Star break in what would be the second of back-to-back MVP seasons. In fact, Mickey’s OBP was an astounding .512 on the season. Perhaps the reason Mantle only had 178 total bases in 345 plate appearances was that opponents just wouldn’t pitch to him.
Not only did Mickey Mantle have the greatest Yankees first-half in the All-Star Game era, he had several other seasons that would have ranked top 3 for Yankees outfielders as well.
The Designated Hitter position was not adopted for All-Star Games until 1989, and only in A.L. parks. Starting in 2010, the DH has been used in each All-Star Game regardless of location.
No Yankees designated hitter has ever been named an All-Star. Hopefully Giancarlo Stanton can change this soon.