In the comments of my graphical look at Yankee starters’ ERAs over the last several years, reader Mike Myers asked if I could do a headshot graph for the Yankee relievers or bench players. Well, in the spirit of the holiday, ask and ye shall receive, so today comes a graphical look at the primary players the Yankees have employed as members of their bench since the 2003 season. Why have I been using that as a cutoff? Admittedly it was fairly arbitrary, but pulling these charts and headshots together is a pretty labor-intensive process, so I’m plenty happy to not go any further back. As you’ll see, the graph gets pretty crowded as it is.
In order to define who made the cut, seeing as how the Yankees generally utilize anywhere between five and 15 different part-time players over the course of the season between cuts, trades and September call-ups, I initially used 100 PAs as a benchmark. While I mostly stuck to that parameter, I did end up getting a bit lenient so that I could include some memorable names that perhaps didn’t quite reach the 100 PA threshold, but came close enough. I did not end up using anyone below 50 PAs, so this should at least be a fairly representative sample of the primary players the Yankees looked to to give a boost (or not) off the bench during their respective seasons.
As for how I graded them out, I decided to go with fWAR, to take into account both offensive and defensive contributions. It’s not perfect, but being that it also takes playing time into account I felt it’d help give a reasonably accurate picture of who helped and hurt the most in limited duty.
(click to enlarge)
While not an exact science, here’s how the individual fWARs for the players selected tally in each season:
- I still don’t know how the 2005 team — who gave over 1,000 combined PAs to Tony Womack, Bernie Williams and Ruben Sierra and got -5.6 fWAR — won 95 games.
- Enrique Wilson wins the honors for worst Yankee of the decade, minimum 100 plate appearances. He accrued -2.4 fWAR over the 2003-04 seasons, which means he owes the Yankees $7.1 million for letting him anywhere a professional baseball field. Tony Womack was a close second, at -2.3 fWAR in just one terrible, terrible season. In fact, Womack’s 2005 is the worst season in Yankee history, minimum 100 PAs!
- And if we expand the list of cumulative numbers to go all the way back to 1901, Enrique Wilson remains dead last, which means he’s the worst player in Yankee history!
- The 2010 bench was arguably the best of this lot, with 2003 (paced by Juan Rivera, John Flaherty and Ruben Sierra) and 2011 right behind it. Although 2011 would’ve been tops by a strong margin had I not included Ramiro Pena and his -0.9 fWAR.