Catcher – Thurman Munson (1975)
The Yankees, in their long history, have had many great catchers play for them. Legends like Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Elston Howard, and more recently Jorge Posada and Gary Sanchez have had fantastic individual seasons. However, the heart and determination of Thurman Munson are unmatched.
Munson was named the Yankees’ captain for a reason. He was a gritty and tough ballplayer and a Gold Glove fielder at the most physically demanding position on the field. Also, he was my father’s favorite baseball player growing up, so I guess I have some bias here.
In my opinion, his best individual season was 1975, which is in opposition to Abate’s 1973 preference for a couple of reasons. Munson was not known for being a power hitter, but instead a consistent and clutch performer who found ways to drive in runs without the long ball.
While 1973 was his best season in regards to power because of his career-high 20 home runs, .487 SLG, and .849 OPS, I still prefer his 1975 performance. At the age of 28, Munson had a three slash of .318/.366/.429, an OPS of .795, 12 home runs and despite the low power numbers he still managed to drive in 102 RBI.
Choosing Munson over the other great performances of Yankees’ catchers, I named before is not meant to discredit them at all. All of them had fantastic seasons that deserved consideration.
However, if Munson’s career was not tragically cut short because of the devastating plane crash, who knows what more he could have done.
C/OF Yogi Berra (1950)
If I didn’t choose Munson to be in my all-season Yankees’ starting lineup, you wouldn’t be surprised if I decided on Yogi Berra. He is one of the best catchers ever to play the game and had many memorable quotes, obviously. While he had many great seasons, I prefer his 1950 performance.
Berra, at the age of 25 in 1950 had a three slash of .322/.383/.533 with a career-high OPS of .915. He also whacked 28 home runs and drove in 124 runs. I believe 1950 was his best season, but he finished third in MVP voting that year while winning the award in 1951, 1954 and 1955.