Dec
23

By the Decade: After O’Neill

By

For the sixth installment of our look back at the Yankees By the Decade, we hit the outfield and start in right. Paul O’Neill was the player of the decade for the Yanks in right during the 1990s, but as the 2000s dawned, his days were clearly numbered. Following the 2001 World Series, he retired, and the Yanks were left with a gaping hole.

So just how did the team fill the void left by Number 21′s retirement? The chart below shows all of the decade’s right fielders who played 10 or more games in the field. The bottom line represents the overall total line including the 18 players who did not make the cut. Those guys made only a combined 148 ABs among the lot of them anyway.

  AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB HBP K GDP BA OBP SLG
Bobby Abreu 1388 408 91 9 40 236 185 2 5 266 29 .294 .376 .459
Gary Sheffield 1087 312 53 1 61 221 152 15 18 149 28 .287 .380 .506
Paul O'Neill 1046 287 57 1 36 162 92 5 2 146 36 .274 .330 .434
Raul Mondesi 581 146 36 3 25 81 61 8 4 103 9 .251 .325 .453
Nick Swisher 434 107 30 0 24 71 85 2 3 113 12 .247 .369 .482
Shane Spencer 257 68 13 2 6 32 21 1 5 59 3 .265 .329 .401
Bernie Williams 194 55 15 0 8 29 11 0 0 17 8 .284 .317 .485
J. Vander Wal 142 40 12 1 3 13 12 0 0 33 4 .282 .335 .444
Ruben Sierra 128 31 9 0 6 20 13 2 0 20 2 .242 .310 .453
Melky Cabrera 111 34 3 0 2 14 14 2 0 10 5 .306 .384 .387
Karim Garcia 100 26 4 0 3 14 6 1 0 21 2 .260 .299 .39
Juan Rivera 92 28 6 0 6 16 7 0 0 15 2 .304 .354 .565
David Justice 89 21 5 0 3 14 13 1 0 18 3 .236 .33 .393
Bubba Crosby 86 18 1 1 1 6 3 0 1 16 0 .209 .244 .279
Eric Hinske 53 12 1 0 7 10 5 1 2 16 0 .226 .317 .642
Xavier Nady 48 13 5 0 1 6 2 0 0 7 2 .271 .300 .438
David Dellucci 44 8 1 0 1 4 3 0 2 9 2 .182 .265 .273
Aaron Guiel 39 11 1 0 4 7 2 0 1 6 0 .282 .333 .615
Shelley Duncan 34 10 0 0 2 6 1 0 0 8 1 .294 .306 .471
Matt Lawton 32 4 0 0 2 4 4 0 2 6 0 .125 .263 .312
Kevin Thompson 29 6 1 0 1 5 7 0 0 9 0 .207 .361 .345
Kenny Lofton 17 6 0 0 0 2 2 0 1 1 0 .353 .450 .353
Gerald Williams 12 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 0 .000 .077 .000
Totals 6191 1680 347 19 246 989 711 40 46 1079 151 .271 .348 .453

Some of those names bring back some bad memories. Remember when the Yanks tried to plug in a right field hole left wide open by Gary Sheffield’s injury with Aaron Guiel and Kevin Thompson? Remember when Karim Garcia started picking fights with fans in Fenway? Remember when Raul Mondesi was thought to be the next great Yankee warrior who would don the mantle left by Paulie? Those certainly weren’t the days.

After the 2002-2003 dark ages in right field, two players dominated the decade. Gary Sheffield landed in New York in December 2003 as a solution to their right field woes. He carried with him a prickly attitude but seemed ready to make a go of it in the Bronx. For two years and a half years, before an injury cut short his 2006 campaign, he delivered. As the right fielder, he hit .287/.380/.506 with 61 home runs and an overall OPS+ of 135. He came in second in the MVP voting in 2004 and made the All Star team twice.

In 2006, though, Sheffield hurt his wrist and never recovered his stroke. The Yankees made a move to acquire Bobby Abreu in mid-season, and Sheffield found himself a man without a position. He made his displeasure known and was dispatched the Tigers for three promising young arms. In return, the Yankees received Kevin Wheelan, Anthony Claggett and Humerto Sanchez. Sanchez is a Minor League free agent; Claggett was traded to the Pirates; and only Wheelan remains with the Yanks. The returns have not yet amounted to much, the Yanks were rid of Sheffield’s contract and demeanor.

To replace Gary Sheffield, the Yanks acquired Bobby Abreu from the Phillies in a salary dump deal. Philadelphia sent Abreu and Cory Lidle to the Yanks for C.J. Henry, Carlos Monasterios, Jesus Sanchez and Matt Smith. Abreu went on to hit .294/.376/.459 with the Yanks, and no one played more right field this decade that Bobby. Yet, last winter, with the Yanks ready to get younger and more athletic, Brian Cashman was more than willing to let Abreu walk. As Sheffield was dumped on the Tigers rather unceremoniously, the Yanks bid Abreu a quick farewell.

So then, who is the right fielder of the decade? Both Abreu and Sheffield were paid far more than their actual value, and both were atrocious in the field. Sheffield put up a combined WAR of 5.8 while in pinstripes, and Abreu put up a 5.7 mark in the same category. Because of his monster 2004, I have to give the edge to Gary, but he doesn’t have a slum dunk case for it.

As the Yankees look ahead to 2010 and a new decade, the fun-loving Nick Swisher is holding down the right field spot. He won’t put up the offensive numbers of a Sheffield or even Abreu, but he is a worthy successor to the spot. Who will we be toasting in ten years in right though remains a mystery.

Categories : Analysis
  • http://www.richardiurilli.com Richard Iurilli

    I have no memory of Matt Lawton as a Yankee.

    Ditto with Aaron Guiel.

    • A.D.

      heh, definitely forgot about a few of these guys.

    • Zanath

      Now that I think of it, I do. I can’t remember the details. Though I remember it failing.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Lawton’s most notable contributions to the Yanks involved getting suspended for PED use.

  • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

    Who is Karim Garcia? I have no respect for that guy.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      One of the hightlights of last year’s WBC was seeing Karim Garcia play for Mexico. I always liked that guy. What’s not to like about a chubby Mexican?

      • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

        I agree. Seeing good old Karim still plugging away was satisfying.

  • Ansky

    no Curtis Pride on this list?

  • Salty Buggah

    Who will we be toasting in ten years in right though remains a mystery.

    Jason Heyward

  • steve s

    Interesting how close Mondesi and Swisher’s stats are. Shows how much having a positive image goes to color one’s perception of a player. I remember Mondesi as a disappointing stiff who was a problem child to boot as opposed to the beloved and mostly effective Swishalicious!

    • A.D.

      Well the difference is Mondesi made more then, than Swisher does now, and underachieved relative to his numbers in Toronto & career numbers. So expectations & cost much higher for the congressman

    • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “Interesting how close Mondesi and Swisher’s stats are.”

      I feel like we’re through the looking glass here, this is a weird one to address… I’ll just rip the band-aid off…

      Swisher’s numbers are much better than Mondesi’s, they’re not very similar.

      OBP:
      Mondesi: .325
      Swisher: .369
      SLG:
      Mondesi: .453
      Swisher: .482
      OPS:
      Mondesi: .778
      Swisher: .851

      • Steve H

        But other than that……

      • http://www.retire21.org Mike R. – Retire 21

        That’s all fine and good, but Swish is #33 and Mondesi was #43. I believe that those are the numbers he was referring to.

        /JOKE!!!!

      • steve s

        The only stat that Swisher is “much better” is that he walked more times (which impacts OBP and OPS in a similar way so listing them as 2 separate stats is a red herring). The slugging is pretty close and the rest of the individual stats (extra base hits, RBI’s, runs scored (not listed above but 95 for Mondesi and 84 for Swisher in total, not just RF), batting average) are remarkably close. Take a look at Mondesi’s full career stats as a Yank and all of Swisher’s at bats last year (just not RF at bats) and the numbers are even closer. You owe me a new band-aid.

  • A.D.

    Ohhhh John Vander Wal. Looking forward to Glenallen Hill and the LF edition

  • Zanath

    There really are some depressing names on that list.

  • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

    I had no idea Hungry Hungry Humberto was a minor league FA. This must have happened fairly recently.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Last month, when 40 man rosters were set for the Rule V draft.

      • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

        TSJC must have been crushed, absolutely crushed.

  • Salty Buggah

    Eric Hinske is clearly the RF of the decade with his .959 OPS

    • A.D.

      Not Gerald “ice” Williams???

    • vin

      Aaron Guiel isn’t far behind… 948 ops.

  • Cam

    Wow, I had no idea Bernie got so many ABs in right. I can barely even picture him playing there.

    • vin

      Just picture a ball bouncing many times towards an infield.

    • http://thebronxbloggers.wordpress.com Bronx Blogger

      Same here.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I give the “RF of the Naughts” Award to………Gary Sheffield.

    • vin

      That’s reasonable. He was the best performer, but Abreu gets some consideration for getting more ABs.

      My picks among the regulars:

      Sheffield > Abreu >> Nick Swisher > O’Neil = Mondesi

  • http://thebronxbloggers.wordpress.com Bronx Blogger

    I love listening to Paul ONeil make fun of Michael Kay. It’s a shame he doesn’t do more games on YES.

  • Steve H

    Does Mondesi get any bonus points for his political career?

    From the LA Times:

    “His intellectual shortcomings are obvious,” one political observer notes. “We don’t know of one project that Raul Mondesi has submitted.”

    • A.D.

      Uh oh don’t get Mondesi mad

      • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        You won’t like me when I’m angry.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      I like the fact he switched political parties when he got a better offer.

      • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I’m not as dumb as I look.

        • Steve H

          Who wrote this sentence for you?

          • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Your mother.

            • Steve H

              Wrong. She’s illiterate too.

      • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

        As someone who once Wikipedia’d “Domincan Republic,” I am uniquely qualified to report that this is absolutely shocking.

        Thank goodness that kind of stuff doesn’t go on here in ‘Murica.

        Damn Tainos.

    • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Objection! Out of order! Loud noises!

      • Steve H

        Do you love lamp Mondesi?

        • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          I love lamp. I love lamp.

  • sabes

    Swisher isn’t going to put up Abreu’s numbers? He’s already surpassed them. Of course, he needs to keep it up, but I don’t see why he can’t surpass Abreu’s numbers over the next couple of years.

    • http://dinosaursneverexisted.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/melky.jpg Drew

      He’s got a long way to go before he produces runs like Sheff and Bobby did. By then, he may be too expensive.

  • http://dinosaursneverexisted.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/melky.jpg Drew

    Who did Sheff run into down the baseline? Was it Overbay? That was a bad day, I loved Sheff.. It did open the door for the Melkman though.

  • Steve H

    I still can’t get over Swish’s H/R splits this year. He actually got on base more at home, but if he had duplicated his road stats at home you’re looking at an MVP caliber season. Hopefully he’ll adjust this year and be more consistent at home. His career H/R splits are almost identical, so I’m sure he’ll normalize both on the road and at home.

    • http://dinosaursneverexisted.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/melky.jpg Drew

      Yeah it’s crazy. Even with his 226/382/394(!) at home he managed to have a career year. If he is anywhere near 2009 Road-Swish both at home and on the road in 2010, he’s in for a really good year.

      • Steve H

        He’s the anti-Matt Holliday.

  • Greg C

    If anyone thinks some of these names are bad, this is nothing compared to the early 90s, when the teams were actually bad. I don’t even want to remember who some of the “best” at each position were back then. Some of the worst players on these lists would have been the 2nd best player on a lot of those teams.

    FWIW, Sheffield was probably my 2nd favorite Yankee during his time on the team.

  • Whizzo the Wize

    Swisher: .249
    Sheffield: .244, .221, .152

    Those are their respective Iso% during their Yankee years.