Yankees All-Time Greatest Rookie Seasons

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Inspired by Gary Sanchez‘s torrid start, Yanks Go Yard ranks the top five greatest seasons by New York Yankees rookies in franchise history.

New York Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez has made some serious noise in the big leagues since his debut August 3rd. The 23-year old set the record for being the fastest major leaguer to reach 11 home runs, was named both American League Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month for August, and should receive strong AL Rookie of the Year support despite missing the first four months of the season.

It’s been 20 years since a Yankees player last took home Rookie of the Year honors, the Captain was the last player to receive the award in 1996 at the start of the dynasty years. This recent drought is an anomaly in the team’s history, however, as the Bombers have had eight Rookie of the Year winners since the inception of the award in 1947.

The following is a highly subjective list of what one writer considers the best debut seasons in New York Yankees history.  But first, here are the honorable mentions of the guys who couldn’t quite crack the list:

Willie Randolph: According to Baseball-Reference’s wins above replacement metric, Willie netted five WAR in 1976, the second most among any Yankees rookie position player in history. The problem in my eyes is that almost all of that value came on defense. He only hit .267/.356/.328 that year, and I’m not sure I trust our evaluations of defense in 1971 to put Willie on this list.

Russ Ford: The 27-year-old pitcher actually has the highest WAR of any Yankees rookie ever with 11. He managed the feat by throwing 299.2 innings in 1910 however. Was he a great pitcher? Probably. But the game was so different back then that I just can’t consider him a serious candidate.

Stan Bahnsen: The 1968 American League Rookie of the Year has undeniably impressive numbers– 2.05 ERA and 2.64 FIP in 267.1 IP– but they need to be taken with a grain of salt because they came in the infamous “Year of the Pitcher.” In my view that’s just enough to keep him off the list.

Gil McDougald: This often-overlooked Yankee Great comes just shy of reaching the pantheon once again. He took home ROY honors in 1951 by hitting .306/.396/.488 with 14 homers while playing splitting his time between second and third base. It was an excellent year, but just didn’t have the resonating impact of some of the players on this list.

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