No matter what the fate of this year's New York Yankee team, it most likely won't go down as one of the greatest in franchise history - they do have A.J. Burnett in their rotation, after all. But in honor of another Bombers postseason run, here are the top five all-time Yankee teams.
1. 1927: Arguably the greatest team in baseball history, this version of the Bronx Bombers rolled to a 110-44 record (finishing 19 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia, and setting the AL record for wins), which was good for a .714 winning percentage - the best in Yankee history. They continued the good times in the Fall Classic, by sweeping the Pirates. Babe Ruth, of course, hit 60 homers that season (with 164 RBI, and a .356/.486/.772 line), while Lou Gehrig wasn't too shabby himself (47 home runs, 175 RBI, .373/.474/.765). Tony Lazzeri also drove in over 100 runs, and the original Murderer's Row featured five .300 hitters (and four with above-.400 OBPs). The team belted 158 home runs while their opponents only managed 42. Waite Hoyt led the pitching staff with 22 wins, and he was supported by two 19-game winners and one with 18. Any team with the Babe and the Iron Horse is going to come out as number one (and maybe also two and three, as they won three championships together). Let's face it, Babe Ruth was the Babe Ruth of baseball players.
2. 1939: The last of four consecutive World Series winners, this juggernaut featured Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio (30 home runs, 126 RBI, .381/.448/.671), Bill Dickey and Joe Gordon, along with Charlie Keller and Red Rolfe. It finished with a 106-45 mark (.702), winning the AL by 17 games, and swept Cincinnati in the World Series. This Yankee team was the epitome of the 1930s offensive explosion: It had five .300 hitters, four 100 RBI producers, five players with OBPs over .400 and five with slugging percentages over .500. Red Ruffing led the pitching staff with 21 wins, and completed 22 of his 28 games, and fellow Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez was also in the rotation. Sadly, Gehrig only played in eight games that season before having to retire.
3. 1998: The crown of the late-'90s Yankee jewel, the 1998ers dominated the season, going an amazing 114-48 (.704), won the AL East by 22 games and sported a 11-2 postseason record, with their sweep of the Padres in the World Series being their final touch to a remarkable season. They were similar to the 1950s-era Bombers in that they had great pitching, only a couple of stars, with the rest of the roster filled out by role players. Every starter in their lineup had a .350 OBP or higher and hit double digits in home runs. They featured two 100-plus RBI guys, but nobody on the team reached the 30 homer mark. But it all added up to the most runs scored in the league. David Cone (20-7), David Wells (18-4), Andy Pettitte (16-11) and Orlando Hernandez (12-4) led the best pitching staff in the AL, while the bullpen was also loaded: Mariano Rivera, Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton, Graham Lloyd and Ramiro Mendoza. Fittingly it was non-star Scott Brosius who won World Series MVP honors, when he hit .471, with two homers and six RBI.
4. 1961: It wasn't all about home runs for this power-laden team, though it just may have seemed that way. Sure, MVP Roger Maris (61 homers, 141 RBI) battled teammate Mickey Mantle (54, 128) all summer attempting to top Ruth's record, and the Yanks set a new single-season mark with 240 dingers (with a supporting cast of Elston Howard, Yogi Berra and Moose Skowron pitching in). But the Bombers tied for the league lead in fielding, with a slick-gloved infield featuring Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek and Clete Boyer. And how about that pitching? Whitey Ford won the Cy Young, going 25-4, with a 3.21 ERA, and earned MVP honors in the World Series, with a 2-0 record and 0.00 ERA. And reliever Luis Arroyo (29 saves) was the Sporting News Fireman of the Year. This memorable Yankee squad finished 109-53 (.673), and dispatched the Reds with ease in the Series, four games to one.
5. 1977: Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Reg-gie! It was the year of Reggie, Thurman, Billy and George, but amongst all the turmoil, the Yankees managed to go 100-62 (.617), and won the World Series for the first time in 15 years. Munson, Jackson and Graig Nettles all drove in over 100 runs, with Nettles and Jackson leading the way power-wise, with 37 and 32 homers, respectively. Sparky Lyle was the first reliever in the AL to win the Cy Young, posting a 13-5 record, with 26 saves, a 2.17 ERA, while throwing a whopping 137 innings. He and Dick Tidrow were practically the whole bullpen that year, coming in for starters Ron Guidry, Ed Figueroa, Mike Torrez, Don Gullet and Catfish Hunter. After a thrilling playoff series win against Kansas City, the Yankees, well, Reggie, made history. Even though he was a part of three World Series winners in Oakland and already had an MVP under his belt, Mr. October became Mr. October in 1977, with his five home runs and three colossal clouts in game six.
For in-depth coverage of the Yankees, check out SB Nation's Pinstripe Alley.