In this week’s episode of MSG’s “The Lineup”, we look at a position so rich with history in New York that we had to leave out Earle Combs, a member of Murderer’s Row, and Bobby Murcer, a fan favorite of the Yankees. The position? Center field. Last week, we looked at right field, and the best in the history of New York baseball was (obviously) Babe Ruth. Let’s see who we think makes the top five and see if we can get the #1 player for the eighth consecutive week!

Photo Credit: ESPN

  1. Willie Mays – New York / San Francisco Giants (1951-1952, 1954-1972) New York Mets (1972-1973) Finally, a Met at the top spot! What else can be said about the Say Hey Kid? He was one of the best all-around baseball players of all-time. He was certainly the definition of a “five-tool prospect”, winning multiple Gold Gloves and MVPs. He was a twenty-four-time All-Star, a twelve-time Gold Glover, a two-time National League MVP, and won a World Series in 1954. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1979.
    Career Stats: .302 BA, 660 HRs, 1903 RBIs, 3282 hits, 338 SBs
  2. Mickey Mantle – New York Yankees (1951-1968) A Yankee legend, Mickey Mantle is said to have been the best switch-hitter of all-time. Replacing Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio (See: #3), he was one of the best long-ball hitters to ever play the game. He was a twenty-time All-Star, a seven-time World Series Champion, a three-time American League MVP, and won a Gold Glove in 1962. He was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.
    Career Stats: .298 BA, 536 HRs, 1509 RBIs, .421 OBP
    Why he’s not higher: Although a phenomenal player and athlete, he simply wasn’t Willie Mays. Willie Mays is a top-three all-time player.
  3. Joe DiMaggio – New York Yankees (1936-1942, 1946-1951) “The Yankee Clipper” is a prime example of a “man’s man.” He served his country in World War II. He married Marilyn Monroe. And oh yeah, he recorded a base hit in 56 consecutive games, a record that may never be broken. He was a thirteen-time All-Star, a nine-time World Series Champion, and a three-time American League MVP. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1955.
    Career Stats: .325 BA, 361 HRs, 1537 RBIs
    Why he’s not higher: He lost three years worth of stats due to participating in WWII.
  4. Duke Snider – Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers (1947-1962), New York Mets (1963) Playing in lineups that featured other “The Lineup” candidates, such as Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, and Roy Campanella, Duke Snider certainly did not get lost in the talent pool that was in Brooklyn. He was an eight-time All-Star, a two-time World Series Champion, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1980.
    Career Stats: .295 BA, 407 HRs, 1333 RBIs
    Why he’s not higher: He generally wasn’t known for his defensive play. Also, he did play with many other aforementioned superstars.
  5. Bernie Williams – New York Yankees (1991-2006) A cornerstone for the late 1990’s Yankee dynasty, Bernie Williams was a homegrown talent, which isn’t always the case with the current Yankees. Also a classical guitarist, Williams is a five-time All-Star, a four-time World Series Champion, a four-time Gold Glover, and a Silver Slugger in 2002.
    Career Stats: .297 BA, 287 HRs, 1257 RBIs
    Why he’s not higher: Like Snider, Bernie Williams was one of many great players on the Yankees in the 1990’s. It cannot be said whether or not those championships would have been won without him, but having Bernie on the team certainly made it easier.

Do you like our top five? Does Mickey Mantle or Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio have a chance of taking down Willie Mays at the top spot? “The Lineup” will air on MSG this Tuesday, May 11th at 10:30 PM. Let us know what you think, and also be sure to log in to The Lineup’s Home Page to if you can catch up to New York State of Sports’ editor Matt Vereb, who is in third place!