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Best Yankee OFr since Mantle?

Posted by Chris J. on January 27, 2008

Brian Cashman started trash talking about Bernie Williams the other day, leading to this thread at BTF.  In post #22 Lance Linden says "For my money, Williams was the Yankees' best outfielder since Mantle."  Is that true?  Well, looking at the PI . . .

Clearly, he crushes everyone in terms of quantity.  Only 4 had half as many games as him (Piniella juuust misses 50% as many games).  He leads in every notable counting stat except SB, where he's 3rd.

Looking at the guys with 500+ games (Williams is over 2000), he's middle-of-the-pack at OPS+.  The only guy noticably higher than him with much playing time is Dave Winfield though.

That's career.  How 'bout single-season?  Well, he's not as good.  Going by OPS+, he only has 1 of the top 11 seasons (though 6 of the top 20).   Then again, Dave Winfield only has 2 of the top 11 and 3 of the top 20.

So, yeah, I guess he is the best OFr for the Yanks since Mantle.

3 Responses to “Best Yankee OFr since Mantle?”

  1. birtelcom Says:

    Winfield, Roy White and Bernie all averaged just about 20.5 Win Shares per 600 PAs during their respective Yankee tenures. All just about the same quality of performance overall (Win Shares includes fielding and baserunning as well as hitting in the evaluation). So yes among that group I would give Bernie the nod on pure quantity of contribution. But Bobby Murcer also had a very substantial career with the Yanks though not nearly as long as Bernie's, for sure) and he averaged over 22 Win Shares per 600 PAs during his time with the Yanks. I think you can argue that Murcer (who was very underrated, playing as he was after Mantle and in a relatively low-hitting era) may have been a stronger all-around player for the Yankees than Bernie, though he admittedly did not stay with the Yanks nearly as long.

  2. Raphy Says:

    Its amazing how similar the per game numbers for Bernie, O'Neill and Matsui are.

  3. Jgeller Says:

    I did a search on all players who spent 50%+ of their careers at OF, and sorted by RC since 1970. Bernie ranks 16th. Here is a list of players above him who spent a part of their career as a Yankee: Rickey Henderson, Gary Sheffield, Dave Winfield, Tim Raines, Reggie Jackson. Winfield is the only one of those who played half as many games for the Yankees as Bernie did. So from that perspective, it looks strongly like Bernie was the best Yankee OF since Mantle.
    There's another point though i'd like to make. Perhaps I am biased as a Yankee fan, but Bernie in my mind is sorely undervaled as a great OF. He's not a Hall of Famer in the least. But for over a decade, he was a very important player on a very good team and consistantly contributed. Only 25 players in history have 2250+ hits, 1250+ runs, 1250+ rbi's, 250+ HR, and 100+ SB. Mays, Griffy Jr. Mantle, and Bernie are the only players who were primarly CF to acomplish this.