Which Yankees Baseball Hall of Fame snub is most egregious?

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 2000: Bernie Williams #51 of the New York Yankees batting against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park in September 2000 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 2000: Bernie Williams #51 of the New York Yankees batting against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park in September 2000 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

In the long, glorious history of the New York Yankees, the most decorated franchise in professional sports, it’s very difficult to argue for unfair treatment — except in areas where the personal biases of writers are allowed to intervene.

The Yankees have been outright dominant over the course of the past century, which means they’ve created countless fans worldwide as their global brand has spread, as well as countless enemies, who are so sick of watching those countless fans sprout up.

This inherent bias often presents itself in the voting for awards and honors, when sportswriters from around the country stop being objective and start getting real.

Aaron Judge dismantled the theory of MVP voting being anti-Yankee pretty solidly in 2022, when he received 28 of 30 first-place votes over a very deserving Shohei Ohtani, but fans will never forget the snub he was dealt in 2017, when his rookie season exceeded Jose Altuve’s campaign in nearly every way imaginable, but he lost the narrative edge to the “scrappy, gritty” kid from a non-Yankee team.

Since 1990, only Judge and Alex Rodriguez (twice) have captured MVP honors. Derek Jeter, despite a 2006 season for the ages, lost to Justin Morneau of the Twins and never took home the hardware. The story of baseball was told through Yankees-colored glasses in the 1990s, but annually, MVP voters decided the game’s best team did not possess its most valuable player.

MVP voting, like the Baseball Hall of Fame’s process, is occasionally an anti-popularity contest. Though a contestant’s fame is specifically supposed to be weighted in the Hall’s vote, the balloting often turns into a battle for who can make the best Sabermetric argument for an undervalued candidate.

That has left many players who’ve dominated for the Yankees under New York’s bright lights out in the cold. With apologies to A-Rod (we know why he’s out), Gary Sheffield (we know why he’s out, and he might be in next year), David Cone (the momentum will probably turn here soon), Kevin Brown (lol) and Bob Meusel from Murderer’s Row, the most egregious ongoing Yankees Hall of Fame snubs are Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada. But whose case for enshrinement stands above the rest?

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Which New York Yankees Baseball Hall of Fame snub deserves enshrinement?

Jorge Posada, 1995-2011: It says a lot about the Yankees’ mystique that, somehow, a Core Four catcher who played behind the plate until the age of 40 is probably the fourth-most-deserving enshrinee, but hey! There are lots of great Yankees who still deserve their flowers.

Plus, any excuse to insert this into an article feels worthwhile. Let’s all watch Posada fist pump from second base, shall we?

There. That was fun, wasn’t it? Shame nobody was able to cash the runner in from second there, or a lot could’ve been avoided from 2018-present.

Per Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, Posada is the 19th-ranked catcher of all time, which puts him in very interesting company. He’s behind Tigers stalwart and non-Hall of Famer Bill Freehan (16th) and A’s World Series hero Gene Tenace (13th), but ranks well ahead of almost-certain future inductee Yadier Molina, whose below-average offensive profile leaves him 22nd all time.

Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame monitor gives Posada, a five-time All-Star, a rating of 98, and deems anyone with 100 points to be a “likely Hall of Famer.” 275 homers and a 121 OPS+ for an offense-first catcher doesn’t seem like quite enough, though, and Posada’s role on a generation’s worth of title teams may never get him over the edge.

Don Mattingly, 1982-1995: On fame alone, Mattingly has clearly earned enshrinement, and every year that goes by, it becomes more difficult to justify that two of the biggest stars and best players of the 1980s (Mattingly and Dale Murphy) aren’t in. Both men had solid shots at enshrinement this offseason on the Veterans’ Committee ballot, but couldn’t edge out Fred McGriff.

Dec. 2022 was easily Mattingly’s closest call yet, though, considering he never passed 28.2% on any of his 15 writers ballots (and that limit has since dropped to a maximum of 10 rounds before expulsion).

Most experts seem to agree that, though you won’t find a higher peak, Mattingly’s health has nixed his case. That doesn’t seem entirely fair, and hopefully someday a committee of his peers helps the baseball world at large see the light. Hang onto the roof. Even Brian Kenny agrees!

Bernie Williams, 1991-2006: Another star who spent his entire career in Yankees pinstripes, a trait all four highlighted players here share in common.

The “Core Four” moniker, while an extremely helpful marketing tool, definitely sold Williams short, considering the seasons he put up helped make four World Series titles in five years happen.

From 1995-2002, Williams never hit below .305 in a single season. He hit above .330 three times, reaching .342 in 1999. During a steroid era filled with offensive explosions, the Yankees’ lithe center fielder put up OPS+ marks of 129, 131, 147, 160, 149, 140, 139, 141 during these eight seasons, at a time when “league-average” offense was being inflated further by the day.

Combine the defense with the power and leadership, and Williams seems like a stronger candidate than Kenny Lofton. If he weren’t so unassuming, he might be in already (137 on the “first to 100” Hall of Fame monitory) instead of falling off the ballot after just two years.

And, if not for a slightly more iconic face, he’d be the Yankees’ biggest snub, but…

Thurman Munson, 1969-1979: Making assumptions isn’t fair, but with a mythic figure like Munson, whose life and career were cut far short, it’s all we really can do.

Odds are low that his career would’ve ended in the realm of when it did when his plane crashed midway through the 1979 season, ending his life at the age of 32. He may have followed through on his favorite threat to George Steinbrenner and bolted for Cleveland, but he certainly would’ve accrued more counting stats, no matter what was nagging him. That’s what The Captain did.

Williams could easily be a Hall of Famer. So could Mattingly. But Munson combined the height of fame with upper-echelon excellence at an impossible-to-play position (especially back then), and finished top-10 in MVP voting three times, nabbed three Gold Gloves and made seven All-Star teams, during the height of the Carlton Fisk era.

A museum of baseball’s history without his plaque feels foolish.