Guest Post: Frankie Crosetti: Historically Underperformed and Under-Respected

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The following is a guest post from longtime RAB reader Adam Moss, who you know as Roadgeek Adam from the comments. He’s previously written guest posts about umpire Tim McClelland and uniform No. 26.

Crosetti. (Getty)
Crosetti. (Getty)

For several decades from the 1920s to the 1960s, Frankie Crosetti was a household name for the New York Yankees, serving numerous different roles, including starting shortstop and third base coach. Crosetti historically was not the best batter the Yankees had during the early dynasty years, but the young man from San Francisco fit right in with the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Bill Dickey under manager Joe McCarthy. Offensively, he was in his prime from his debut in 1932 at age 21 to his age 29 season in 1940. In that time period, the Yankee dynasty had racked up 5 World Series rings (1932, 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1939) while Crosetti served as the starting shortstop for the Yankees.

However, in this day and age, Crosetti is almost completely forgotten but in the form of historical records. Crosetti’s teammates from many World Series: Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing are all in Monument Park in one way or another (with their numbers retired or with just a plaque). By the time Crosetti left the Yankee organization in 1969 to join the Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers), he had racked up 17 World Series rings in 23 tries, which is more than even Yogi Berra had ever gotten (13/21). Crosetti is not in Monument Park and no one has seemed to make an argument to why he does not deserve induction. Monument Park isn’t just for retired numbers of Yankee greats but for the greatest of the Yankees and those who serve the franchise in a major fashion. This article is about the argument over the reasons why Crosetti does and does not deserve his induction.

His Tenure

Crosetti first played Minor League Baseball for the Pacific Coast League team in San Francisco until his contract was acquired by the Yankees on August 23, 1930 for a player to be named later and three other players. The player to be named later ended up being Julie Wera, a third baseman and the very first No. 20, which will be inducted in Monument Park later this month for Jorge Posada. Crosetti’s first season for the Yankees was 1932, in which he was paid a grand total of $8,000. Only age 21 at the time, he hit a meager .241/.335/.374/.709.

Twice an All-Star (1936 and 1939), Crosetti’s best year arguably would be 1938. That season, Crosetti played a MLB high 157 games and set a then-record 757 plate appearances with 166 hits, 9 HRs and 55 RBI as well as a .263/.382/.371/.752 slash line. However, the negatives to those numbers, he set a major league high in 97 Ks (he had 106 walks in return) and stole 27 bases, also a season high for the league. Crosetti also has a MLB high 15 HBPs, a thing he learned quite well from Manager Joe McCarthy. That year, he finished a measly 29th in the MVP voting, which went to Jimmie Foxx of the Red Sox.

After that peak in 1938, he was able to set high numbers in HBPs, PA and at-bats for 1939, but his numbers were visibly declining. After hitting .263 the last season, Crosetti’s average dropped to only .233. By 1940, the numbers became even worse, when in 145 games; he hit an absolutely terrible .194/.299/.273/.572. The Yankees finally had enough and had the next best thing coming in 1941 in a young shortstop prospect named Phil Rizzuto. Rizzuto was intended to replace Crosetti in 1940, and some article we would’ve won the 1940 American League Pennant with Rizzuto, who hit .347 in AA.

1941 was the year. Crosetti was relegated to a bench player and only appeared in 50 games as a utility infielder, and while his numbers went up to a respectable .223 (and a 31st place spot in the MVP voting!), it clearly was the end. For 1942, 1943, and 1944, Crosetti was a bench player, but managed to get into 95 games in 1943 (another WS year) and hit only .233. 1945 was a bit unusual because he got into 130 games and only managed a .238 batting average. A lot of the extra playing time from 1943-45 was due to the fact that his replacement, Phil Rizzuto had spent all three years fighting in combat for World War II. Once Rizzuto returned from action, Crosetti went to backup status and after missing most of the 1947 season, he went from 1946 to 1948 participating in a grand total of 48 games, which he had only 1 HBP (his strength) and a .284 average in 86 plate appearances.

After 1948, Crosetti went from a player to a coach (he had been a player/coach in 1947), and became the third base coach for the Yankees. The longest-tenured third base coach in Yankee history (1948-1968), he coached during the Yankees best years with Casey Stengel at the helm and thanks to Joe McCarthy, he took the skills taught by the great manager and brought it to generations of Yankees and the front office absolutely loved it. Crosetti decided to leave the Yankees in 1968 for the new Seattle Pilots that had been established through expansion, but only lasted the year in Seattle because he had many differences in ways of doing things than Jim Bouton, a pitcher for the Pilots.

After coaching for the Minnesota Twins, Crosetti hung up the spikes for good and retired to Stockton, California. He never did appear at an Old Timers’ Day for the Yankees, but did make his fair share of appearances (especially when the Yankees were in Oakland) before passing away in 2002 at the age of 91.

So Why Am I Telling You This?

The reason I wrote this article is I got interested in the fact Crosetti is basically forgotten for someone who has 17 World Series rings and 23 appearances. On paper, that would get you a Hall of Fame nod, but there’s much more than on paper that needs to be examined here. As I mentioned in the intro, Frankie Crosetti’s name is not in Monument Park, the place of the greatest Yankees who ever played, coached or managed the team. If you asked old-time Yankees if Crosetti was a vital part of their success, they’d probably say yes, but statistics can argue away a lot of the personal love.

Let’s start with the blatantly obvious problem. Crosetti spent 16 years as a Yankee player (1932-48), but in 1,683 games, he basically produced a meager 83 OPS+ and only a .245 batting average. Those numbers would never get you in the Hall of Fame and I expect that wouldn’t get you into Monument Park in this day and age short of some abnormalities. SABRmetrics are a little kinder to Crosetti, but even that’s a bit pushing it. He had a 19.9 oWAR (using Baseball-Reference’s WAR) and a 14.2 dWAR. His overall WAR from 1932-48 was only 23.9, which the true stars can manage in one or two seasons at times. Also, while being a figurehead leader, he was not always a big factor in the team’s performance. In games he appeared in, the Yankees only had a .501 winning percentage. That’s not exactly the “I can change the direction of games” player. This is despite the amount of World Series rings won in that time. As a player, if you read the statistics alone, Monument Park has no place for Crosetti, but to base it only on statistics as a player would be poor judgement.

As I’ve mentioned, Crosetti became a third base coach in 1948 for the Yankees. He coached for six managers (McCarthy, Bucky Harris, Stengel, Ralph Houk, Yogi Berra and Johnny Keane). Waving home over 16,000 runners, Crosetti arguably was the cornerstone of the Yankees franchise who wasn’t a player named Mantle or Berra. Crosetti was always a person who was fashioned a leader, he would be awake early in the morning and always the first to the clubhouse and made sure that players weren’t always slouching or doing something wrong. He basically was an honest coach, including a famous issue with infielder Phil Linz, who was playing a harmonica during a losing streak and it caused chaos on the Yankees team bus. When the Yankees brought up a new player, the Yankees turned to Crosetti to make sure they were guided well and would give a pamphlet that discussed what to do as a Yankee and as a ballplayer. This even turned into a youth player book in 1966 published as “Frank Crosetti’s Secrets of Baserunning and Infield Play”.

As a coach, Crosetti was the rock who was always present to work on my generations of Yankees of the past and future. When he headed off to Seattle in 1969, his No. 2, which he wore, was not retired on his choice, but rather given to the next flashy player. At the time that player was Jerry Kenney, an infield prospect who made his MLB debut in 1967. In 1969, Crosetti’s 2 was given to Kenney, but it didn’t really work out for the infielder, who had pretty poor years in New York, hitting only .234 from 1969-1972. By 1973, he was in Cleveland and by 1974, out of the game completely. Obviously, the No. 2 has been given in good hands since then in the form of Bobby Murcer and the Captain, Derek Jeter. As a coach, you can see enough service to the Yankees that he deserved his spot in Monument Park as Mel Stottlemyre Sr. does now. While that’s comparing apples to oranges, the reason I compare it is because they were both career Yankees who always felt like there was something a little missing if you ask me.

Conclusion

One issue that was brought up to me when discussing my idea for this article was why would they bother at this point? Yes, Crosetti’s been dead for 13 years now and not in the organization since 1968. However, the Yankees under the George Steinbrenner administration put Red Ruffing in Monument Park with a plaque of his own, 18 years after his death. With the recent trend of installing historic players on Old Timer’s Day (Rich Gossage, Willie Randolph & Mel Stottlemyre), it seems only fair you could use this as a chance to break the trend and get “The Crow” where he belongs, a plaque in Monument Park emphasizing you don’t have to be a great player to be a Yankee.

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Game 116: Severino's Biggest Test
  • Andrew Jarosh

    Imagine all those world series checks the crow received

  • SweetSpot

    I enjoyed reading this. FYI – I think you meant “induction” not “introduction.”

  • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

    When I think of Yankee 3B coaches, I think of the Crow, Frankie Crosetti.

  • PMian

    When I was growing up, and becoming the life long Yankee fan that I remain til this day, seeing Frank Crosetti in the third base coaching box was as much a part of the Yankee Experience as seeing the Mick in CF or Whitey on the mound. He was the smoothest at giving signs, it was often difficult to tell when he was giving the signs. He also developed a reputation for never shaking the hand of a homerun hitter as he rounded third base, a habit he notably broke when Mickey Mantle hit his 500th HR. When Cro left the Yanks, the visual image of a Yankee game seemed to change. In the intervening 46 years, the Yankees have had some fine 3rd base coaches, and some that were less than fine, but nobody ever truly replaced Frank Crosetti.

  • GregD

    A wonderful memory from my childhood

  • Rob Reddardfsnyder

    I thought it was the best article of the season, Adam. But I disagree with you, Frankie Crosetti does not belong in Monument Park. That place is reserved for all time great Yankee players and managers. To put him in would diminish the significance of the great honor and more importantly, a Frankie Crosetti day would not increase gate revenues.

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      No question on the revenues, but I am only making an argument. However, I disagree with you completely on the players and managers. Ed Barrow (a GM), George Steinbrenner and Jacob Ruppert (an owner) and Bob Sheppard are in Monument Park.

  • Austinmac

    I also remember as the fixture as third base coach. His leaving did represent a feeling of change. Great time to be a Yankee except for his last four years.

  • tomingeorgia

    Nice job, Roadgeek. Number 2 was a fixture, beloved and unrecognized.

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      Thanks.

  • Rob

    Nice job, Adam. But, I would like you to explain this line, “He basically was an honest coach” What does that mean? Sometimes he wasn’t? When was he not?

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      I have a tendency with my autism to make up terms as I go, but I meant he’s a true all-around coach who took no prisoners and focused on the game.

      • Rob

        OK Great job, sir. I tend to question lines like that. I “basically” look forward to your next effort. lol

        • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

          Yeah well, I had a moment of brain freeze in the article and referred to Joe McCarthy as Tom McCarthy (the Phillies PxP man)

          • Rob

            Brain freeze wears off. My brain has freezer burn. That is a permanent condition. Basically.

          • BearNJ

            Noticed it but no biggie. I have written football analysis for Scout.com. Every few articles, with no editor, you can look at the published version and wonder how you missed a name or word on your own proof read. More importantly it was a nice job and a good article.

            • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

              Yeah, but with autism, I tend to make things sound right, like the “introduction” induction thing SweetSpot mentioned easier. It’s not fun when it doesn’t look professional.

              • BearNJ

                E-mail Mike. He can edit it. That’s what I’ve done with Scout.com.

  • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

    I seem to remember The Crow shaking Roger’s hand when he broke the Babe’s record. Being over 50 years ago I could be wrong.

  • 86w183

    Nice article. Remember Frank Crosetti as 3B coach when I began following the Yankees in 1964 at the ripe old age of six. Had no idea he didn’t shake HR hitters’ hands until Mantle’s 500th because that’s the visual that always comes to mind when I think of him.

    As for Monument Park…. I have always been of the mindset that it should only be for the greatest of the greats. If I had the authority announcers would be recognized in the press box, along with front office officials. Coaches/trainers in the clubhouse. Players such as O’Neill, Tino and others should have placques, but their numbers should not be retired.

    I would retire 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 16 and soon 2 and 42. That’s it.

    • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick
      • John in Forest

        Thanks for posting! I was watching on TV when Roger hit it. It’s funny seeing the “61” flashing at the top left of the screen and realizing that was state-of-the-art graphics back then.
        Late in the home run chase WPIX would replay Mantle and Maris’s home runs later in the same game. I guess it began when they got into the 50s. Maris, say, would hit a home run in the third inning, and they’d announce that a replay would be shown after the top of the 7th — I guess that gave someone time to develop the film, dry it, and then feed it into a projector.
        Red Barber, always the southern gentleman, was the only one who referred to “Robert Richardson”. He was Bobby to everyone else.

        • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

          Here’s a good one. The 20 year old Mick hits a big one at the ~ 1:32 mark and Mel Allen shows you how to really call a HR. Billy Martin makes a game saving catch at the 2:24 mark with the bases loaded.

          • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

            I feel bad asking, but where’s the video?

            • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

              sorry i’ll get it, lol.

              check this out for now:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIt7xvBY358

            • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick
              • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

                You absolutely see why Vin Scully comes from the same brand as Mel & Red, because they are calling a game like it should be called. I love the Gillette promos as well.

    • BearNJ

      I agree. I’m not a big fan of retiring numbers of non Hall of fame players. Sorry Scooter. Reggie as well and I was a big Reggie fan. I’m all for giving plaques in Monument park but retiring numbers should be for the best. Its gotten silly and watered down. The only number I disagree with you is Thurman’s number 15 because he was a Captain and we lost him so tragically.

      • John in Forest

        I’d try a different approach — retire numbers like 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 permanently, but set a time limit for some of the others. No one wears 51 for 25 years, or something like that.

        • BearNJ

          I would be fine with that and a plaque. If they somehow get into the HF then you can reconsider. We are retiring the numbers of some very good but not great players.

          • 86w183

            Any Hall of Famer who spent the majority of his career with the Yankees should have his number retired. That would be the standard for me. Reggie Jackson, for example isn’t in the Yankees top 30 for HR. No way his should be retired. Graig Nettles (#9) his 47 more HR and drove in 287 more runs as a Yankee than Roger Maris.

            • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

              But see, to set standards like that leads to problems like the Red Sox and Mariners are in with number retirement. In this day and age, who remembers Jackson was an Oakland A or a California Angel?

              • 86w183

                I’d say every baseball fan over 30 does. and what difference does that make? I’m talking about the standard for a TEAM retiring players’ numbers.

                Reggie is a legit Hall of Famer, but he only a Yankee for five of his 21 seasons.

                Roger Maris had three great seasons, two pretty good ones and two lousy ones in his seven Yankees seasons.

            • BearNJ

              I always believed that Nettles did more wearing #9 than Maris.

              • John in Forest

                As much as Hank Bauer, who wore it during the 1950s?

      • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

        Not sure what you’re saying here. Rizzuto and Reggie are in the HOF. So what’s your reason for not retiring their numbers?

        • BearNJ

          The Scooter was a good player and won an MVP but his number was retired thirty plus years after he was voted in by the Veterans Committee. He was borderline but you can make the case with his long association with the club.

          Reggie, who I loved, only played 5 years with the Yanks. Won 2 world series but again was he wasn’t a Yankee that long. These two numbers were George’s personal choices to honor those he liked or wanted to make amends with. Add Billy#1 here, and those he felt sorry for like Roger Maris #9 and Ellie Howard’s #32. The fans never forgave George for pushing Reggie out. It seemed like he was making peace with them. The 1982 game at the Stadium when Reggie hit a moonshot of Guidry and the crowd chanted Steinbrenner sucks was the only time I cheered for an opposing player to beat us.

          • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

            I do agree with you that Reggie’s number shouldn’t have been retired. There were obvious overriding sentimental reasons for them retiring the numbers of Martin, Maris and Howard.

            But you’re totally wrong about Rizzuto. His number was retired in 1985. The Vets Committee didn’t elect him until 1994.

            • BearNJ

              You are right. I forgot the time line. I remember the Holy Cow knocking him down when they retired his number. Only would happen the Scooter. Its borderline but considering his long association with the club a case could be made.

    • Vern Sneaker

      Agree. They’ve cheapened the Monument Park thing for commerce. Too many plaques also. And at their lower standard they’re neglecting some plaque-worthy players, tho I hope they stop.

    • Basil

      Agree entirely. As for plaque candidates, how about Tommy Henrich?

      • John in Forest

        And if Henrich gets one, you need to honor Charlie Keller as well.

  • nsalem

    Great article. Rizzuto in his telecasts during his years as a coach.used to refer to him as “The Old Crow” emphasis on old.

  • LAZERTWON

    He has a lower career wRC+ than Drew.
    Really something though how long he managed to hang on for. Usually those types of players have pretty short careers.

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      At least to me, comparing Drew to Crosetti is comparing apples to oranges, we’re talking two different eras of baseball here. You can see though that RIzzuto was basically his replacement, except that Rizzuto had to go to war.

    • Time for 28

      When Drew earns as many world series rings and his career last as long as the Crow, maybe your opinion maybe right. So let’s hope Drew doesn’t have a lot more years in pinstripes.

  • John in Forest

    I remember Crosetti as the third-base coach when I was young. Later I found that he had been the Yankees’ SS until Rizzuto arrived (and evidently very graciously told the veterans who had been riding Phil to cut it out, even though the Scooter had pushed him to the bench). But if you’re going to install a plaque in his honor, you’d better cast some for Earle Combs, Hank Bauer, Gil McDougald, Bobby Murcer, Roy White, Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, and any number of others who had half a dozen good years for the team. The problem is that once you start searching for guys to enshrine, you lower the standard and it ceases to be a great honor.
    The HOF has run into the same issue. Now when a true great is enshrined it’s not enough to merely be voted in, or even to be voted in in the first year of eligibility (which used to be the gold standard). Now there has to be speculation on whether the vote will be unanimous. When an honor becomes obligatory, it’s no longer an honor. The problem with Monument Cave (aside from not being visible to non-groundhogs) is not that there are too few plaques, but that there are too many.

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      I’m not treating them only as a player though for Crosetti, more for being a player and coach, not just a player.

      • John in Forest

        I’ve read tons of stuff about the Yankees in the 50s and 60s, and Crosetti’s name is rarely mentioned. As a result, I don’t know how great a coach he was. He may have been there simply because Stengel and Houk felt comfortable having him around. From what I remember, his job consisted primarily of clapping his hands as a home run hitter rounded third base.

        • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

          As I mentioned, the Yankees front office had high respect for him as well to train the rookies on “being a Yankee and baseball player”. Regardless, this article was just one opinion, there are many here.

          • John in Forest

            I understand. And regardless of batting average, Crosetti was the starting shortstop for a lot of years for one of the best teams in baseball history. That counts for something. In the 1930s SS was a defense-only position — look up Leo Durocher’s stats and you won’t be impressed. C was the same way — Bill Dickey wasn’t thought of as a great catcher until late in his career, and then primarily based on his hitting. I just think there’s lot of guys I’d honor before Crosetti.

            • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

              Considering I have a lot of respect for the work of Durocher, it’s amazing it took till 1994 for the Vets Comm to induct him.

              • John in Forest

                Posthumous honor. He’d been suspended for a couple of years for consorting with gamblers.
                That’s how Rose gets in, IMO. When he’s unable to personally deliver an induction speech.

      • Austinmac

        Very nice. Thanks.

  • Basil

    Great article. It would be nice to have more such acknowledgements of Yankees from older eras. The present NYY administration suffers a bit too much from “recentism.” Probably commercially driven.

  • Time for 28

    I have one old time baseball card, it the Crow, the original number 2. I also have a great photo of Derek Jeter and Frank. He was a great player and deserves to be in monument park because he earned the most world series rings and his long tenure starts with Ruth and ends with Mantle.

  • JLC 776

    Great article, Roadgeek. I enjoyed that as much as replays of yesterday’s game!

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      Thanks. I’m glad to see people reading it.

  • Max

    As he would say, “Go fry your ass.” Just wanted to throw in a Frank Crosetti quote, great article though.

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      Rizzuto’s book “The October Twelve: Five Years of Yankee Glory 1949-1953” has a good piece on Crosetti on page 40:

      http://tinyurl.com/dascrow

      • Max

        Lol wow. Mind blown. Yes, that’s where I read that quote (don’t remember when), and not only did you know that, but spotted it almost instantly. Either you have an insane memory or you’re a robot.

  • BillyBall

    Mike,
    Pretty neat, nice job bringing Frank Crosetti back to life for many Yankee fans who didn’t know much about him.
    Ive read paper clippings where Crosetti kept players in line and Rizutto and Dimaggio looked up to him being the obvious Italian descent.

  • ROB #exiledintampa

    At the rate they’re going, they need a monument park for each decade. Yankee HOF is getting a little crowded.

  • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

    Today’s lineup: Ellsbury 8 Gardner 7 Rodriguez dh Teixeira 3 McCann 2 Beltran 9 Headley 5 Gregorius 6 Drew 4 Severino rhp

    • Lazer

      No Bird :(

  • Lazer

    So Hutchison has a higher ERA than CC, yet is 11-2…

    • 86w183

      He’s been their Nathan Eovaldi who is 12-2, 4.26. Like Nate, he also benefits from tons of run support, thus he’s 11-2, 5.26.

  • Evan3457

    For contributions to the Yankees as a whole? Maybe. As a player, I don’t think so. He was probably the weakest regular on what was probably the most dominant team of all time, the 1936–1939 Yankees. That’s harsh, but he’s competing against Dickey, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Rolfe, Henrich, Selkirk and DiMaggio.

    The thing about 17 rings…eh, 10 as a coach? Yogi’s 10 rings are more impressive, with 3 MVPs.

    Does Lazzeri have a plaque? He should probably get one first, I’d think. A key of two different great Yankee teams that won multiple titles.

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      Lazzeri does not have one. All of his numbers have been retired for others (Torre, Joe D, Mattingly and Mantle)

    • Evan3457

      Oh, and his best season was probably 1936.

    • Madrugador

      Rizutto was a better shortstop than Crosetti but the difference at least by the offensive numbers is not as large as you might think. Rizutto made it to the HOF and he is not the worst player in the Hall.
      I don’t think Crosetti belongs in the HOF nor should his number be retired for him but he sounds plaque worthy to me.
      The question that nags me is how should players be evaluated? Clearly, metrics are not the only way to do this.

      • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

        See, it’s hard to absolutely find an evaluation technique for players, because contributions and impact on a franchise are not numerical, and it’s really up to the players, coaches, etc a lot more to what kind of impact player X had a franchise.

        • Madrugador

          Clearly there are intangibles although the present culture is to discount these and try to find hard data to support an evaluation.
          I think most would say Tulowitski is a “better” defensive SS than Didi in 2015. I don’t know if that is true or not and my grasp on defensive statistics is tenuous but:
          Tulo .981 Fielding Percentage and -2.3 UZR
          Did .977 Fielding Percentage and 2.3 UZR

          By the numbers, Didi looks better?

          • Bellomy

            Clearly there are intangibles although the present culture is to
            discount these and try to find hard data to support an evaluation.

            This isn’t quite true. Statistics are a recording of what has happened on a baseball field. No more, no less.

            Let’s look at “Jeter is clutch” as an example. This is an “intangible”. Fair enough. But if he really is clutch we should be able to see it in high leverage situations.

            Now let’s say Jeter has great “leadership abilities”. If they’re really important we should be able to physically account for other players playing worse because Jeter is not there. You can check on that using…statistics.

            Statistics are much less technical than people seem to think. Think of them as shorthand in place of a long description of what players are doing in an MLB season. At their core, that’s what they are.

            As for Did and Tulo…well, the problem is that statistic is recording a very specific component of defense, arguably the least important. Until we come up with a really good way to measure the other aspects of defense, we’re kind of stuck with the old eye test and some really general, large-margin-of-error numbers. In that respect, yeah, it’s generally agreed that Didi is better. Although to be fair grasp of fundamentals is important and perhaps underrated.

            • Madrugador

              Re Jeter’s leadership abilities: if it were the only change in the system, we could measure its effect statistically but the system is complex. I understand what you are saying but respectfully will disagree. At my own peril, I will fight to survive in the digital world.

      • Evan3457

        Rizzuto was a significantly better player than Crosetti. His career WAR was much higher, but if you don’t believe in WAR at all, the contemporaneous observers not only voted him the MVP in 1950, when, in truth he had a brilliant season, but in 1949, he was 2nd in the MVP voting. He was also 6th three years later and received some MVP votes in eight different seasons, including 6 in a row from 1948-1953.

        Now, you can make a good argument that Rizzuto’s MVP votes were part of a larger movement to look for “the real deal’ as opposed to being swayed by gaudy offensive performance, and that this search for “deeper meaning” went way too far, but for two consecutive seasons, 16 national baseball writers said Rizzuto was one of the two best players in the AL MVP.

        Crossetti has nothing like that in his record.

    • 86w183

      Larsen won 45 games in five years as a Yankee….. the same win total as Ivan Nova.

      If he wants a plaque he should go to his neighborhood trophy shop. Nice man, just turned 86.

  • pat

    Good shit, Adam.

    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam

      Thanks.

      • tomingeorgia

        You up for the race this afternoon? No Yankees broadcast for me today, so I’ll watch the game on MLTB and the race on TV.

  • trr

    I say “yes” to a plaque in full knowledge that it will never happen owing to the corporate mentality of current team ownership. Put plainly, ownership will never commit time/effort to anything they can’t wring a buck out of.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2015 New York Yankees!

  • Preston

    Great Sunday morning read, thanks Adam.

  • Steve D

    nice read, thank you. love reading about the old timers.

  • arjun

    Interesting article, but please take 2 minutes to edit next time you publish something that hundreds of people will read.

  • Tar

    Thanks Adam! I love reading about Yankee history.