Alex Rodriguez is the worst player in the history of the New York Yankees. That is, of course, not the case as it pertains just to talent. No professional sports franchise in the United States has come close to matching the successes and reputation had by the Yankees, and part of the team’s legacy has included the club having a certain level of class. Players such as Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and others may not have been perfect men on or off of the baseball diamond, but those individuals also did not bring shame to the Yankees.
That cannot be said about A-Rod. When Rodriguez was not (allegedly) lying during interviews with New York media personalities such as WFAN radio icon Mike Francesa, he was earning a legacy of being an athlete who cared more about himself than about the overall good of the Yankees. Perhaps most damning of all is that Rodriguez was paid literally hundreds of millions of dollars to be part of a dynasty that won multiple world championships. He has, however, only ever won the World Series once during his time with the Yankees. It should also be noted that it is not a stretch to suggest that he will never be inducted into the hall of fame.
The list of the worst New York Yankees of all time is filled with other names that long-time fans of the franchise will recognize. Remember when Carl Pavano made almost $40 million to do next to nothing during the majority of his stint with the Yankees? Then there was Kei Igawa, who very well be the biggest bust in the history of the franchise. Fans likely think fondly of Billy Martin for what he achieved as a manager, but he was first a player for the Yankees who may or may not have been more trouble than he was worth behind the scenes at a time when players were not routinely followed via social media websites.
15. Billy Martin
Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were the best of friends when all three were making their travels around the country as members of the Yankees. One of those players was not like the others, however, and that was Martin. The story goes that Martin, who was known to have issues with alcohol abuse as a player and a manager, was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in the hopes that the transaction would have positive effects on the other two players. Martin’s legacy lives on to this day among fans of the Yankees. That legacy does not include Martin being a great player.
14. Pascual Perez
Pascual Perez was given a contract worth $5.7 million by the Yankees before the 1990 season despite the fact that there were several reasons to believe that the pitcher’s best days were behind him. The move was a disaster for the Yanks. Perez would make just 17 starts for the Yankees in two seasons, as he was sidelined because of multiple shoulder problems during his time with the club. He won only three of those contests. How healthy his arm would or wouldn’t have been in 1992 didn’t matter. Perez was suspended for the season for violating MLB drug policy. That ban would prove to be the end of Perez’s career.
13. Ruben Rivera
There are ways for a player to become a favorite among teammate. He could, for example, pick up the check at a restaurant or a club. What is not recommended, however, is stealing a player’s equipment and then attempting to sell it. That is exactly what Ruben Rivera was accused of in 2002. Rivera, according to the story, sold items that were taken from the locker of Derek Jeter. It was later learned that Rivera reportedly earned a settlement of $200,000 after he was released by the Yankees. That was the second time that the Yankees wisely chose to give up on Rivera.
12. Steve Balboni
There was a time during his pro career when Steve Balboni would become an “all or nothing” hitter who crushed a lot of home runs, but who was an out whenever he would not go yard. Balboni was unable to provide even that to the Yankees in the first three years of his career, during which he hit a total of 7 home runs in 200 at-bats. He returned to the Yankees in 1989 and Balboni hit 17 home runs in back-to-back seasons with the Yankees. That he retired with a total of 181 home runs is what stings for the Yankees, as his most powerful seasons occurred when the Bronx was not his home.
11. Kevin Youkilis
There is something to be said for Kevin Youkilis being a rent-a-player who was low-risk, high-reward. That the Yankees gave him $12 million when it was clear to even casual observers that the former member of the Boston Red Sox was past his prime is why Youkilis makes the list. In his one and only season with the Yankees, Youkilis played in a total of 28 games. He hit two home runs, he batted in eight RBI, his batting average was a career low .219, and his OBP was .305, also a career low. Give credit for Youkilis for securing one last contract and for doing so at the expense of a former rival.
10. Jaret Wright
The Cleveland Indians hoped that they had the next great young ace in Jaret Wright, who was a star in 1997. Wright had already experienced the first flame-out of his MLB career by the time that he had a solid season with the Atlanta Braves in 2004. The Yankees, hoping that Wright had found his form of old, gave Wright $21 million. Whoops. Wright would post a record of 16-12 as a member of the club, and he made 43 appearances with the Yankees in three years. He ended his New York career with an ERA of 4.99 and just 40 starts.
9. A.J. Burnett
There were multiple instances when it appeared as if A.J. Burnett was going to earn the $82.5 million dollar that the Yankees paid him. He did, to his credit, have a nice outing during the 2009 World Series that was won by the Yankees. Burnett also left the club after just three years, during which he posted a record of 34-35. Burnett had only one winning season in New York. His 4.79 ERA while with the Yankees was the worst that he has, to date, ever posted as a member of one club. The Burnett contract now serves as one of many reasons why the Yankees are as fiscally responsible as the club is today.
8. Butch Hobson
Butch Hobson hit 94 home runs in six seasons with the Boston Red Sox and he joined up with the Yankees in 1982 after a season out west with the California Angels. Hobson’s bat and his skills were but a memory by the time he linked up with the Yankees, and he failed to hit a single home run with the Yanks during his one season with the club. He ended that campaign with three RBI and a batting average of .172. Known for committing miscues while in the field, Hobson also notched a couple of errors while playing for the Yankees.
7. Curt Blefary
The career of Curt Blefary started out well enough, as he won Rookie of the Year honors for 1965. Personal demons and alcohol abuse would plague him, however, as would an inability to play the field. Frank Robinson famously nicknamed Blefary “clank” due to the sound that would emerge whenever Blefary made an error with his glove. He was a mess of a player and a shell of his former self by the time he joined up with the Yankees before the ’70 season. Blefary batted .210 during his brief stop with the Yanks, and he could not secure a long-term home in the field because of his defensive woes.
6. Nick Johnson (Second Run With The Yankees)
Nick Johnson: Because when you can pay an often-injured player $5 million to return to where he began his Major League career, you just have to do it. I suppose one could give credit to the Yankees for being charitable by giving Johnson $5.5 million before the 2010 regular season. Johnson’s return to the Bronx would not last long, as a wrist injury ended his one and only year of that comeback after just 24 games. He picked up 12 hits in 72 at-bats, good for a batting average of .167. The pair of home runs that he belted during his final season with the Yankees were worth $2.75 million apiece.
5. Marv Throneberry
Marv Throneberry was a lot of things during his pro baseball career. “Marvelous” was not one of them. Along with being a liability in the field, Throneberry was largely a living and breathing out as a hitter. His batting average during his three years with the Yankees was .238. Perhaps more shocking than that one number is that Throneberry would never post a higher average while with a different American League team. Throneberry became somewhat of a cult hero for fans who cheered on those awful New York Mets teams of the early 1960s. He was a fitting mascot for the club.
4. Carl Pavano
Carl Pavano and the next man in this list could be neck-and-neck in the race for the worst free agency signing in the history of the Yankees. Pavano earned just a shade under $40 million from the Yankees, but he appeared in only 26 games across three seasons and four years. Things started to go bad for the player and the club in his first year, when he was first sidelined because of a shoulder injury. Pavano waited nearly two weeks to inform the Yankees that he had been in a car accident, one that would prevent him from returning to the active roster in August of 2006. Not only did Pavano never come close to earning his money with the Yankees. He was a huge headache for the club.
3. Kei Igawa
All of the New York professional sports franchises have made regrettable free agency moves. It happens. Kei Igawa may be the absolute worst of the bunch. The Yankees had to pay $26 million just to obtain the rights for Igawa and the club ended up spending an additional $20 million on his salary. What did that $46 million get the Yankees, you ask? A 2-4 record across two seasons, an overall ERA of 6.66 (can’t make this up), and 71.2 innings pitched across 16 appearances. In all, the Yankees spent nearly $3 million for each time Igawa took the hill. Ouch.
2. Bob Kammeyer
Pitcher Bob Kammeyer made eight appearances for the Yankees during his Major League Career, but it is his one that occurred in 1979 that gets him so high on the list. Kammeyer allowed eight earned runs without recording a single out, giving him an ERA of literally infinity. The Yankees never gave him another opportunity to pitch in the Big Leagues. Neither did any other MLB club. In total, Kammeyer allowed a registered 22 earned runs across his 21.2 innings pitched. At least Kammeyer recorded 11 career strikeouts. That should count for something positive.
1. Alex Rodriguez
Here is what we know about polarizing slugger Alex Rodriguez: Rodriguez is one of the greatest regular season hitters ever. He also, minus the 2009 postseason, more often than not let the Yankees down in big-game scenarios. The Yankees have, to date, won only a single World Series since giving Rodriguez that historic contract over a decade ago. One cannot discuss the career of Rodriguez without mentioning the numerous accusations linking him with performance enhancing drugs, and the suspensions that stemmed from those allegations. Make no mistake about it: The Yankees could and should have spent the money wiser.
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