The Yankees announced on Monday that they will be retiring three players' numbers including Bernie Williams (51), Jorge Posada (20) and Andy Pettitte (46), in pregame ceremonies at Yankee Stadium this season. Recently, there has been media controversy on whether or not those three players are good enough to be in Monument Park, an open-air museum that honors members of the New York Yankees.
I wish I could rewind back to the days that Williams, Posada, Pettitte wore the Yankee pinstripes, and yes, the players should be recognized for being fan-favorites, but they are far from all-time greats and do not deserve to have their numbers retired.
If Andy Pettitte is getting his number retired, where is Red Ruffing’s number out in center field?
Ruffing's number is not getting retired because he would not draw crowds like Pettitte, Williams and Posada will, and this is just a publicity stunt. The Yankees need fans to come to the ballpark this year, as the team has not dramatically improved its roster since last season, a season in which they did not make the playoffs.
Nevertheless, Pettitte is one of the greatest postseason pitchers ever, and who can forget Jorge Posada’s face after his clutch double in Game 7 in the 2003 ALCS? Even Ichiro Suzuki refused to wear the number 51 when he joined the Yankees in 2012 out of respect for Bernie Williams.
The Yankees are celebrating fan favorites and loyalty rather than greatness, which is not very Yankee-like.
Let us compare Williams with future Monument Park neighbor and center fielder, Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio takes the cake over Williams in batting average, home runs and RBIs. He was an All-Star in every season he played and was also a first ballot Hall of Famer. Williams was taken off the ballot after his first year, earning just 3.3 percent of the vote. Players need at least five percent to stay on the ballot.
DiMaggio also missed three years in the middle of his prime because he served in World War II.
Yogi Berra, catcher, can be comfortably ranked as one of the greatest players to ever don Yankee pinstripes. Posada, also a catcher, has numbers that are significantly worse than Berra’s. In a 162-game average, Jorge averaged three less home runs, 15 less RBIs, and 97 more strikeouts. Berra also posted a career .285 batting average while Posada’s was just .273.
Pettitte has practically never even been the best pitcher on his own team; how can he possibly be one of the all-time Yankee greats? Sure, he played a huge role in each of the five World Series championships from 1996 to 2009, but a career 3.85 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and a per 162-game average of 158 strikeouts a year are just not Monument Park worthy. He never even won a Cy Young Award. He finished second once, in 1996.