When you look at the New York Yankees, you see one of two things. You either see the greatest baseball franchise of all time, or you see the most hated franchise of all time. This largely depends on whether or not you are a Yankee fan. Few can argue with their success, regardless of the fact that they have very deep pockets to spend with. In spite of those deep pockets there are other reasons that the Yankees are perrenially one of the better teams in baseball. One of the biggest reasons is the fact that they have a core group of players that have stayed with the team for their entire careers. When you consider the fact that three of the few active players that are “lifers” are Yankees, you start to understand how they might be important to their teams.
A lifer is a player that has spent at least 10 years with only one major league team. The Yankees have three of those lifers, and they are clearly extremely valuable members of the Yankees year in and year out. Ironically, they all three have spent 14 seasons with the Yankees. Here is a look at the three, and why they have been so important:
Derek Jeter – It can be argued that Jeter is the most valuable Yankee of the last decade and beyond. From the first day he put on the pinstripes, this Yankee has produced. His bat is not as mighty as some Yankee legends, but his contributions are on a par with anybody. His primary contributions is clutch hitting, slick fielding, and leadership in the Clubhouse. Perhaps no Yankee since Mickey Mantle has been more important to the Yankees over all.
Jorge Posada –To those that are not heavy duty baseball fans, Posada might be passed off as a decent catcher that hits a little now and then. To those that know the importance of the position of hind catcher, Posada has been irreplaceable. Posada calls one of the best games in baseball and his value can not be measured in hits and RBIs. He is one of the better hitting catchers in the game, but his real value comes on defense, and experience. The Yankees are always better with Jorge behind the plate.
Mariano Rivera –Everybody knows that in New York, if you get to the ninth with the lead it is lights out time. Mariano Rivera has been the dominant closer for a decade, and he continues to do so today. That steady, guaranteed save out of the bullpen is absolutely the most valuable thing a team could ask for from a pitcher. Rivera is a certain Hall of Famer and is assured of his place among Yankee Legends. His contributions are invaluable.
These three Yankee players have been a steady, calming influence for the New York Yankees for fourteen seasons in a row. That is a sure way to generate wins in a league where players change teams like they change underwear. Love them or hate them, the Yankees are a success. These three players are a large reason why.