We know the success story behind the New York Yankees, and we know they are arguably one of the best organizations in sports. But do you know, who the worst players are at each position that have ever played for the Yankees? The Yankees are talked a lot about their success due to their 27 championships, and the legends that have retired in pinstripes. With all those great memories and high expectations, comes a lot of let downs. Now of course there are many Yankee failures, but there are quite a few players at each position that played for the Yankees for quite some time, and never performed well enough to remain in pinstripes.
The Yankees expect the best of the best to play for their team, but not everyone is the best of the best. In fact, a lot of the players who sign or get traded to the Yankees can’t handle the pressure of playing in New York. The pressure is real, which a lot of times causes the struggles to be real. So, instead of looking at the great accomplishments that the Yankees organization have achieved, let’s look at the players that almost let their team down, and could have possibly changed history. We'll be going through each field position, then go through multiple starting pitchers, as well as relievers and closers.
16 Starting Pitcher: Kei Igawa
Known as the one of the biggest bust in the history of the Yankees organization, Kei Igawa was never able to get it going in the Bronx. Like most Yankees pitchers, the pressure is on when taking the mound. And the Yankees most certainly put the pressure on Igawa. The Yankees have been known for giving big contracts out to players overseas, and this one came from Japan.
Igawa signed a five-year deal with the Yankees, worth $20 million. Igawa was supposed to be the guy to help in the starting rotation, but unfortunately, he never seemed to be what the Yankees thought they got. Igawa didn’t last long, in fact he barely lasted two years. His statistics were absolutely awful, as his career left off with a record of 5-9 and a 6.66 ERA. The Yankees thought they grabbed a gem from Japan, but instead, they grabbed another headache.
15 Catcher: Rick Dempsey
The Yankees have had such great catchers throughout their history, that expectations for the position behind the plate is hard to decide who isn’t good. From Yogi Berra to Jorge Posada, to now even Gary Sanchez. The Yankees have always been taken cared of behind the plate. In the early 70s though, this Yankees team wasn’t anywhere near as lucky as they have been during other years. The catcher position was struggling, when they had Rick Dempsey. Dempsey wasn’t great at all at the plate. In four years, he hit only three home runs and 25 RBIs, with a .231 batting average.
Dempsey was known for his great defense, but the Yankees needed more than that. Like we said, expectations are pretty high for those Bronx Bombers. Unfortunately, Dempsey couldn’t live up to those.
14 First Baseman: Greg Bird
Since Mark Teixeira started to deal with injuries, the Yankees have been looking for a new first baseman. Used to Teixeira’s great glove and bat, this Yankees ball club needs a first baseman that can do it all. And unfortunately, they still continue to struggle finding that guy. Some fans may disagree with this because Greg Bird made some big plays to keep the Yankees in the playoff hunt this season, but we have to be realistic.
Bird seems to be injury prone, which sucks for him because he seems like one of the frontrunners to win the starting position at first base for the future. But then you look at his 2017 statistics, and you realize that maybe the Yankees should look into signing someone else. In 48 games played, Bird has nine home runs, 28 RBIs, and a .190 batting average. The Yankees need someone similar to their old first baseman, not a downgrade.
13 Second Baseman: Billy Martin
Billy Martin was known more so for being the Yankees manager, rather than being their second baseman. His numbers were below average throughout his time in the Bronx. Through seven seasons, he hit 30 home runs, 188 RBIs, and had a .262 batting average. The numbers weren’t awful, but remember those expectations that those Yankees have. Martin was known for his clutch plays on defense, and also coming up clutch in the playoffs. Just compared to other second baseman who have played for this incredible team, he never was able to do anything that shocked the Yankees organization.
As a manager, he did a lot more than he did as a player for this organization. Good thing he decided to begin a managing career after his career on the field was over.
12 Shortstop: Spike Owen
Thanks to Derek Jeter, expectations at shortstop for the Yankees will never be the same. It seems now, that the shortstop position for the Yankees has to become the pride and joy of the organization. Towards the end of Spike Owen’s career is when he made it to New York, and he didn’t do much for the organization. At the time, he actually led the league in salary for middle infielders. His statistics were very low, seeming like he did close to nothing. And the Yankees proved that he wasn’t all that great, when they got rid of him as soon as they could. You know a player isn’t all that great when the team tries to get rid of them as soon as they can after just recently picking that player up.
11 Third Baseman: Kevin Youkilis
The signing to pick up Kevin Youkilis made some sense, as he was great throughout his career in Boston. But by the time he was ready to put differences aside and head to the rivalry team, he didn’t have much in the tank. Youkilis was great for the Red Sox, although he wasn’t the best fielder for them. The Yankees didn’t really get much of anything when they signed Youkilis near the end of his career.
Of course, Youkilis’ worst season of his career came when he decided to play for the New York Yankees. The .219 batting average for Youkilis was enough for the Yankees to give up on the former favorite of Beantown. Some rivalry players work when they switch over, while others are too old to perform at a high level.
10 Right Fielder: Bubba Crosby
Bubba Crosby’s name almost sounds like were about to talk about Forrest Gump, or talk about going to eat at a restaurant. Instead, we’re talking about the former right fielder that failed. Crosby was great at right field when it came to defense, as he never made an error at that position while he was in right field. Throughout Crosby’s career, he had more strikeouts than he did home runs and RBIs combined. The Yankees were not pleased with his production, and didn’t want to keep dealing with failures. He lasted three years, and that was it for him.
The Yankees eventually found some good right fielders including Nick Swisher a few years later, and now Aaron Judge. I guess Crosby was a sign to be patient and that success will come to you in the future.
9 Center Fielder: Jacoby Ellsbury
Another signing that went completely wrong, from the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees have scored big, and maybe they expected this transaction to be the new Johnny Damon transaction. Well, if that is what they were expecting, they were wrong. This isn’t the same Ellsbury that is young and fast. Instead, this Ellsbury has actually been in the league since 2007. It seems like once he came to New York, his numbers started to plummet. What makes this whole situation worse, is the fact that the Yankees signed him with a seven-year deal worth $153 million.
Ellsbury has been a complete failure, and that is why a lot of times Yankees fans don’t see him play as much, due to his struggles. Of course he’s been dealing with some injuries that are also outside of his control, but he needs to continue to try and stay healthy and producing.
8 Left Fielder: Vernon Wells
If we were over here talking about the Vernon Wells who played for the Blue Jays or the Angels, this would be a completely different story. But like many other times, the Yankees felt that they could get a nice senior citizen discount on a player who is heading towards the back end of his career. Granted, some times that does work out in their favor, but for the most part, it does not.
The ball was no longer making it over the fence, and his batting average began to drop. It was clear that his time in the MLB was no longer. And unfortunately, at his age he wasn't playing the field like he once used to when he was younger and more athletic. Also, Wells managed to strike out 73 times in a matter of 130 games. Next time, the Yankees should grab a guy like Vernon Wells while he is in his prime.
6 Starting Pitcher: A.J. Burnett
It seems like the Yankees never had much luck with starting pitchers. A.J. Burnett was another headache of theirs. Burnett wasn’t awful, in fact there were times that he played really well. But it was the fact of his expectations and the money that he was getting, that shows him as one of the worst Yankees starting pitchers.
Burnett was looked at as one of the better pitchers in the league before the Yankees signed him. Because of his talent, he was signed to a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. The contract was part of a season that the Yankees loaded up to try and win a World Series. They succeeded their plan, but Burnett definitely wasn’t a huge part of it. Burnett’s worst team he played for throughout his career was the Yankees, based on his own performance, not the team’s. He had a losing record, and a 4.79 ERA. The Yankees would sure love to get that money back that they spent on him.
5 Starting Pitcher: Carl Pavano
At this point, it’s probably hard to think about how the Yankees have even had success with the failures of their signings with starting pitchers. Carl Pavano is next on the list, and Pavano probably had the highest expectations out of any Yankees pitcher. The Yankees thought signing Pavano would bring their new ace to the Bronx. Well, the Yankees thought wrong.
Pavano ended up taking a pay cut to play in the Bronx, but it may have been worth it to have the chance to win a World Series ring. Pavano turned into what we may now look at as the “Tony Romo of the Yankees.” Pavano went through his whole contract time, suffering injury after injury. Looking back at his career with the Bronx Bombers, he finished his Yankee career off at a record of 14-12 and a 5.10 ERA.
4 Relief Pitcher: Rawly Eastwick
It definitely wasn’t easy deciding which relief pitchers for the Yankees were some of the worst, especially when a relief pitcher had a few bad outings, they were done. Now, Rawly Eastwick’s numbers aren’t awful, but they weren’t as great as fans thought it would be. Eastwick’s stint with the Yankees was over and done with so quick, it’s almost like it never happened. Maybe though, it was because Eastwick was nowhere near as good as the Yankees expected him to be.
In his eight games with the Yankees, he had a 3.28 ERA and gave up nine runs in eight appearances. Eastwick failed to be what the Yankees ever expected, so his career in the Bronx completed a lot quicker than they would have expected.
3 Relief Pitcher: Kyle Farnsworth
Looking back at it, it seemed like Kyle Farnsworth played for the Yankees longer than it actually was. Farnsworth was the set-up man to Mariano Rivera for three years, and he just never was the guy that Rivera deserved. The Yankees tried hard to find a man to come in the 8th to help set up Rivera, but it never seemed to happen. There was never that guy that was trustworthy enough, to hand the ball over to Rivera to finish off the ball game.
In his time, he had a 6-9 record and a 4.33 ERA. The only time he really helped the Yankees, was during his three appearances in the ALDS, where he didn’t give up any runs. Besides that, Farnsworth was just a failure to what the Yankees hoped would be that set-up guy.
2 Relief Pitcher: Joba Chamberlain
To see Joba on this list is a complete disappointment, but, we have to face the truth. Joba was on top of the world at one point, and he quickly fell off. Chamberlain was known as a beast when he started, but then couldn’t control his accuracy, which led to more issues. Chamberlain had some good seasons, and some bad. He wasn’t awful, he was just very inconsistent and unreliable.
Part of his struggles also has to be blamed on the Yankees. The Yankees took a guy who clearly would have been the set-up man for Mariano Rivera, and tried making him a starter. It’s almost as if the Yankees tried making him into someone he wasn’t. Who knows how Joba’s career would have ended off if they never switched him at some points, but from what we know, he wasn’t consistent enough to remain on the team throughout the rest of his career.
1 Closer: Dellin Betances
The key word here, is closer. Dellin Betances has done a nice job as a relief pitcher for the Yankees, but he wasn’t all that great as the closer for them. In fact, he struggled so much, that even after trading Aroldis Chapman, they went back and signed him to a big contract. It seems that Betances wasn’t able to deal with the pressure of being the closer in pinstripes.
What makes it worse, is that Chapman isn’t even really the greatest closer. He throws hard, but also can be wild and throw a lot of walks and let up some hits, which can put the Yankees in a sticky situation. In September 2016, Betances blew a few saves, and Yankees fans may not ever want to have to deal with Betances as possibly being the closer of this team. Good thing that they decided to keep Betances in the bullpen as a set-up man to Chapman.
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