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Ranking the Top 10 Yankees Teams of All Time

By Mike Silva ~ December 29th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, NY Baseball Memories, Top 10 Yankees Teams.

Earlier in the week I gave you my Top 10 Mets teams. Today, we move across town to the Yankees as I list what I believe are the best teams in their history. This is just not a statistical list, but one that combines various intangibles I compiled through my research.


1. 1927- Probably the top team on any list, regardless of how you slice it. “Murderers Row” outscored the next highest AL team by 131 runs. Ruth out homered every team in baseball with 60. Gehrig would win the MVP with 47 homers and 175 RBI. How many relievers win 19 games? Wilcey Moore went 19-7, with 13 saves, while Waite Hoyt paced the starting rotation with 22 wins. This team swept Pittsburgh in the World Series, and was heads and shoulders better than its competition. I don’t care what era you compare it to, this is the cream of the crop.

2. 1998- There will be some that will say I am showing my age by picking this edition of the Yankees over some in the thirties, forties, and fifties. Just like their ’27 counterparts, the ’98 Yankees were so far superior to their competition, winning 114 regular season games, and finishing 22 games better than second place Boston. Unlike the ’27 team, they needed to go through two rounds of playoffs before reaching the World Series. They were tested by Cleveland, and needed to win a pivotal Game 4 in the ALCS. Instead of the prototypical power of the decade, the Yankees offense was balanced, with each starter compiling an OBP over .350. The rotation saw each member win double digit games, paced by David Cone‘s 20 wins. Of course, the best closer in baseball history saved 36 ballgames, and was setup by the best middle relievers in the game in Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton. Not a weakness on the team.

3. 1939- This team won a fourth World Series in a row, and might have been the best of the thirties dynasty as they swept Cincinnati in the World Series. Outscored their opponents by 411 runs- more than the ’27 squad- led by Joe DiMaggio and his .381 batting average. Five other players - Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon, Red Rolfe, Charlie Keller, and George Selkirk- had an OPS over .850. This was Gehrig’s final season, and his health limited him to just eight games. Red Ruffing led the way with 20 wins, and the team led the American League in ERA by a wide margin. Repeating is tough, winning four in a row even tougher, and doing this while losing Gehrig, their heart and soul, is nearly impossible.

4. 1961- Obviously this is remembered for the Maris/Mantle homerun chase, but this team had to earn its pennant as Detroit won 101 games that season. Aside from the two big guys (who accounted for 33% of the scoring) it wasn’t the best offensive team of this group. I think the pitching gets overlooked because of the homeruns, as Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, and Bill Stafford were a formidable threesome. Luis Arroyo anchored the bullpen with 29 saves. The most impressive part about this team is they beat Cincinnati in five games to win the World Series without Mantle, who was limited due to an injury.

5. 1932- Scored over 1,000 runs which was still impressive even though it was an offensive year. Ruth and Gehrig weren’t as dominant as 1927, but the complementary players like Bill Dickey, Ben Chapman, and Tony Lazzari were more than solid supporting cast. The fact that the pitchers were a half a run better than everyone else is impressive. They were the only American League team with an ERA under 4.00. Shouldn’t be a surprise as Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, Johnny Allen, and George Pipgras all won over 15 games. The World Series with the Cubs wasn’t very competitive as they swept them in four games. This was the same World Series where many claim Ruth called his home run in Game 3.

6. 1953- This group was the fifth and final title of the late forties/early fifties dynasty and did it with tons of pitching. Team ERA of 3.20. Whitey Ford anchored the rotation, and Johnny Sain/Allie Reynolds played the roles of reliever, closer, and starter. Not an overpowering offense, but very balanced from top to bottom. A 21 year old kid by the name of Mickey Mantle was just coming into his own. Yogi Berra had 27 homers and 108 RBI. Might be the most balanced team of the aforementioned five titles. They beat talented Dodgers in seven games, a theme that will be a big part of the back half of this list.

7. 1956- Arguably Mantle’s best year of his career (52, 130, .353) as he won the Triple Crown. Yogi Berra and Moose Skowron combined for over 50 homers and 200 RBI. Won the American League over Cleveland, who had a “big three” of Herb Score, Early Wynn, and Bob Lemon. Avenged the Dodgers ’55 World Series title by beating them in classic seven game series, highlighted by Don Larsen‘s perfect game.

8. 1978- I believe this team was better than their ’77 counterparts, even though they needed to make a furious comeback, and beat Boston in Game 163 to win the division. Many forget Los Angeles had them in a 2-0 hole in the World Series, only to lose four straight. Guidry went 25-3, Gossage/Lyle gave them two closers to finish out ballgames, and the offense did just enough behind Mr. October. Perhaps the 1977 squad was better statistically, but the ’78 team had more talent, and had to overcome so much more adversity, that I give them the nod.

9. 1949- The first of five straight titles. This team had to beat out the Red Sox by one game during the “summer of 49.” Even more impressive is they did this without the services of DiMaggio, who sat out the first two months with heel problems. Yogi Berra (20, 91, .277) and Tommy Henrich (24, 85, .287) paced the offense. An outstanding rotation that included Vic Raschi, Eddie Lopat, Allie Reynolds, and Tommy Bryne that combined for 68 wins. Joe Page won 13 and save 27 games out of the bullpen.  After leading for much of the year they beat Boston at Yankee Stadium the last two days of the season to win the pennant. The most impressive part is beating a talented Brooklyn Dodgers team in five games during the World Series.

10. 1962- What I like about this team is they were at the end of their run and beat a better San Francisco team in the World Series. This was the classic Game 7 where the Yanks won 1-0 and Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson to end it. Yes, they were lucky in the World Series (rainouts, Mays not scoring from first in Game 7, McCovey at bat), but still won the American League comfortably over Minnesota. A classic example of how winning players with experience are invaluable.

Honorable Mention: 1977, 1923, 1999, 1937

Overrated: 1996 – More luck than talent. Give them credit for winning it all, but every team they played in the playoffs was better on paper. From Jeffrey Maier to Jim Leyritz vs. Mark Wohlers, this group led a charmed existence.

Underrated: 1999- I sometimes this team gets overlooked because they weren’t as charming as ’96, dominant as ’98, or beat the Mets like the 2000 squad. The offense scored 900 runs, and they manhandled pretty good edition of the Red Sox and Braves.


Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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4 Responses to Ranking the Top 10 Yankees Teams of All Time

  1. Benny


    My dad often rates the 61 Yankee Team ahead of anyone else, because he told me that the AL teams played more games (161) than the National League (154 games. I do not understand why and I do not want to use Wikipedia as a source on this). Ford,Terry as Starters and Arroyo out of the Bullpen along with M&M! What a lethal combination. I was not born until 1964

  2. SportsGeek

    Very nice article!! Thank you!

    But, just two clarifications:
    - you have 1999 as “Honorable Mention”, but also as “Underrated”- which is it?

    - In your Underrated paragraph, you say that 1999 is “not as dominant as ’99″. I guess you meant “not as dominant as ’98″. Yes?

  3. Mike Silva

    Good catch Sports Geek - yes I meant to say 1998, it was fixed.

    And I did give them honorable mention, and think they might be underrated

  4. Larry Sher

    How is ’62 the end of the run? They made 2 more WS.

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