On Sunday morning, the big ballyard in the Bronx will play host to a game between the Tigers and Yankees, which can be seen on Peacock at 11:35 am.
Very few franchises can match the Yankees when putting together an All-Time team. The Tigers actually can. How many teams can have an advantage over the Yanks in center field, where New York can boast both Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle? Well, the Detroit Tigers had Ty Cobb.
How many teams can come close to matching the Yankees at first base, with New York having the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig? Well, the Detroit Tigers had the Bronx-born Hank Greenberg. If Hank hadn’t lost four years of his prime, his numbers would look remarkably like Gehrig’s. As it is, Greenberg’s career OPS of 1.017 is higher than all but a small handful of players. When your OPS is higher than Mike Trout’s, Stan Musial’s, Mickey Mantle’s, and Joe DiMaggio’s, you don’t take a backseat to anyone. Including Gehrig (who tragically lost time at the back end of his career, but not his prime).
Please forgive me, Yankee fans, but I’m not so certain your Captain — Derek Jeter — is any/much better than Detroit’s Alan Trammell.
There, I said it. Look, almost everyone that follows baseball for any length of time would choose Jeter over Trammell. But it’s closer than you think.
Jeter played 20 years in the majors, all for the Yankees.
Trammell played 20 years in the majors, all for the Tigers.
Jeter never won an MVP, although he finished second in 2006 to Justin Morneau.
Trammell never won an MVP, although he finished second in 1987 to George Bell.
For proper context, Jeter should have won MVP in 2006. He had a much better year than Morneau (who had 34 HR, 130 RBI). And Trammell should have won the MVP in 1987. He had a much better year than George Bell (who had 47 HR, 134 RBI).
Jeter was the World Series MVP in 2000.
Trammell was the World Series MVP in 1984.
For proper context, Jeter batted .409/.480/.864 (9-22 AB) in the 2000 World Series.
Trammell batted .450/.500/.800 (9-20 AB) in the 1984 World Series.
Jeter’s bWAR was 71.3
Trammell’s bWAR was 70.7
A deeper look into Baseball Reference’s WAR for the two reveals the difference. Jeter was a better offensive player, Trammell a better defensive player.
If you look at their 7-year peak WAR, Trammell’s was 44.8. Jeter’s 7-year peak WAR was 42.4.
In his 1985 Baseball Abstract, Bill James wrote that Trammell had no weaknesses, and he had great range at shortstop. And he added that if Trammell had played his home games on artificial turf (as was predominant in 1985) he would have much, much better offensive numbers.
Over 20 years, Jeter’s OPS+ was 115, and Trammell’s was 110. Jete was a better hitter.
All I’ll say is this: Trammell is very under-appreciated. Jeter is very over-appreciated. Why was Trammell so ignored? He never got more than 41% of the vote in 15 election cycles for the Hall of Fame despite similar numbers to players like Barry Larkin and Jeter (Trammell eventually was enshrined by the Veterans Committee). Trammell wasn’t Cal Ripken, Jr.—a contemporary that used up much of the oxygen spent on American League shortstops in Trammell’s day.
At some positions, the Yankees don’t have anyone to compare with the all-time Tigers great. Detroit has Charlie Gehringer at second base. And they have Lou Whitaker. Case closed. Miguel Cabrera was Detroit’s third baseman in his prime seasons about a decade ago. I don’t recall any Yankee triple-crown winners at third base, do you?
Even if you only wanted to include players from the last half-century, Detroit could roll out Justin Verlander and Jack Morris on the bump; Bill Freehan behind the plate, Miggy Cabrera, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell on the infield. It might not beat a comparable Yankee squad, but they would more than hold their own.
And now, a look at the 2022 Yankees.
Are the Yankees almost a third of the way through a “special” season (like Detroit had in 1984, and the Yankees had in 1998)?
1984 Tigers: 104-58 Started 35- 5.
1998 Yanks: 114-48 Started 46-13
One thing I’ve learned watching baseball for more than a half-century: It’s hard to stop a barreling locomotive train. This 2022 Yankees train picked up speed as soon as soon as they left Detroit on Thursday, April 21.
On Thursday, April 21, the Tigers’ Michael Pineda and four relievers shut out the Yanks 3-0, dropping the Yanks to a record of 7-6.
Since leaving Detroit, the Yankees have a record of 27-9 entering Thursday’s split-doubleheader.
Since leaving Detroit, the Yankees Aaron Judge has turned into Babe Ruth, except maybe better.
First 13 games: .255/.340/.404 with 1 HR, 2 RBI
Last 34 games: .321/.383/.748 with 17 HR, 36 RBI
That’s 17 HR in 131 AB since leaving Detroit, or a HR every 7.7 AB.
Now you ask, what happened late in that last game in Detroit that could have had the Baseball Gods turn their attention on fast-tracking the 2022 Yankees into one of the all-time teams?
Oh yeah, with the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera on the verge of 3,000 hits, Aaron Boone had his reliever Lucas Luetge issue Miggy an intentional walk.
Here was the situation: the Tigers were up 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning but had the bases loaded with nobody out. Boone inserted Luetge in the game. Lucas got Jeimer Canelario to ground into a double play.
That sent Cabrera up to the plate with runners at 2nd and 3rd with two out. Boone had Miggy walked. Austin Meadows then doubled in two runs. The Yankees lost that game, but at least Cabrera didn’t get his 3,000th hit against New York.
And good karma has followed Boone and the Yankees ever since.
If you’re wondering how the Yankees are dominating, it is quite simple.
The Yankees have hit 69 home runs, second in MLB to the Brewers (70).
The Yankees have allowed only 38 home runs, fewest in MLB.
There’s a lot going right for the Yankees. We can talk about starting pitcher Nestor Cortest Jr. and his 1.70 ERA. We can talk about reliever Clay Holmes (why does his name bring up images of boxers?). But we have to start with Aaron Judge.
And now, some much needed words on Aaron Judge.
How many times does “99” go into “50”?
Aaron Judge, who wears jersey number 99, hit 52 HR as a 2017 rookie.
Judge, who swatted 18 home runs by the end of May, is almost certain to hit 50 or more this season (he’s on pace for 59). Plus, it’s not so easy anymore for anyone to hit 50. Last year, no one did it. Only Pete Alonso did it in 2019. And no one did it in 2018.
Take a quick guess on this one. How many players have hit 50+ home runs in a season at least twice for the Yankees?
Only two players, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, had multiple 50+ home run seasons for the Yankees.
The only other players to even have one 50-homer season for the Yanks besides Judge, Ruth, and Mantle were Roger Maris and Alex Rodriguez.
Aaron Judge is slugging .657 entering Thursday’s doubleheader with the Angels. If he continues to slug that throughout the season, here are the only Yankee players to have a higher slugging percentage in a single season.
The Yankees have had some pretty great seasons — hey, in particular — from right fielders. Think Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield. Think the non Hall-of-Famers like Roger Maris and Paul O’Neil. None of them come close to what Judge is producing.
And it’s not just this year.
Aaron Judge is averaging a HR every 12.76 AB for his career.
And Aaron Judge has been even better at home in the Bronx, at Yankee Stadium.
RELATED: Roger Angell and Enduring Words
In his career, Aaron Judge has 1,097 AB at Yankee Stadium, and has hit 94 home runs. That is a HR every 11.6 at-bats.
Is that good?
Well, let’s put it like this. Aaron Judge has 2,668 Plate Appearances in his career. He’ll soon be at 3,000.
Career Leaders, At Bats per Home Run (min. 3,000 Plate Appearances)
- Mark McGwire – 10.61
- Babe Ruth – 11.76
- Barry Bonds – 12.92
Right now, if we played with Minimums, and had the leaderboard for the category with a minimum of 2,600 Plate Appearances, we would have Judge nestled between Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds.
Who are we to Judge (judge)?
A long time ago, the Tigers had a great right fielder who played his whole career in Detroit. Al Kaline was known for the rest of his life as “Mr. Tiger.” If Aaron Judge remains in New York his entire career, he could be known as “Mr. Yankee.”
On Sunday morning, we could “All Rise” to see the Judge on Peacock.
Aaron Judge and the first-place New York Yankees host Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers from Yankee Stadium on MLB Sunday Leadoff live this Sunday, June 5 at 11:30 a.m. ET on Peacock. This week’s MLB Sunday Leadoff coverage begins with the pregame show at 11 a.m. ET on Peacock. NBC Sports’
CC Sabathia, the 2007 Cy Young Award-winner and 19-year MLB veteran, including 11 seasons with the Yankees, will join Ahmed Fareed as an analyst on the MLB Sunday Leadoff pre- and postgame shows. Sabathia, who won the 2009 World Series with the Yankees, was a six-time All-Star, earned 251 career wins, and is one of three left-handed pitchers in Major League history with at least 3,000 strikeouts (Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson). Sabathia currently co-hosts the R2C2 podcast.
How to Watch:
|Sun., June 5||MLB Sunday Leadoff Pregame||11 a.m.||Peacock|
|Sun., June 5||Tigers vs. Yankees||11:30 a.m.||Peacock|