5 Jul 1998: Infielder Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees in action during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 1-0. Mandatory Credit: David Seelig /Allsport
Records are meant to be broken. When one views the New York Yankees record books, it’s easier said than done. Most Yankee records are, or once were, Major League Baseball records. Hence, if you’re going to break one, it takes not only consistency and longevity but something of a legend.
Delving into the archives, we take a look at some of the more important Yankee milestones and which player may be in line to reach them.
Across parts of 20 seasons, the “Kalamazoo Kid” appeared in 150-plus games in 13 of them. If Brett Gardner played all 162 in 2017, he’d have 1,229 games under his belt, good enough for 31st in club history. If anyone eclipses this record, odds are he’s not yet on the roster.
At 1,923, Jeter was one season away from owning this record too. The “Great Bambino” averaged 141 runs scored per season and led the league seven times with the Yankees. Gardner at 599 ranks 34th in franchise history.
Hits – Derek Jeter 3,465
Prior to The Captain, no Yankee had reached 3,000 hits in pinstripes. Jeter logged eight seasons of more than 200 hits and averaged 204 per season. Robinson Cano had an outside shot but won’t reach it in Seattle. Gardner has 950 hits and ranks 47th in team history, not that reaching 1,000 this season is anything to sneeze at. If Starlin Castro were a bit younger, maybe. It’s probably going to take a Gleyber Torres-type and he hasn’t even recorded a major-league at-bat.
Doubles – Derek Jeter 544
It’s not unbreakable but no one is close. Jeter averaged 32 doubles per year and most of those were done at the old Yankee Stadium. The new yard plays better for home runs, so this record may have a better chance of holding up.
This may be the safest record of all. The “Iron Horse” played in an era of bigger ballparks, which explains what happens when you’re a first baseman with only 102 career stolen bases but you hit the ball a country mile. The top nine Yankees triple leaders started their careers before World War II. Columbia Lou, your record is safe.
Home runs – Babe Ruth 659
The “Sultan of Swat” earned 10 home run crowns in 15 seasons with the Bronx Bombers. Not even Alex Rodriguez in his prime could run down “The Babe.” I’d mark Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge as your early favorites among the kids but more a more likely challenger would be Manny Machado or Bryce Haper if they eventually join the Yankees.
RBI – Lou Gehrig 1,995
Another iron-clad record for “Laruppin’ Lou.” Gehrig led the league in RBI on five occasions, his career high was 185 and he averaged 149 driven in per season. Those are Nintendo numbers and no one is challenging his record in the near or distant future.
While patience remains an important attribute in baseball, this record appears fairly safe. Ruth averaged 133 walks per season and led the league 11 times. Jeter ranks fourth on the Yankees all-time list and he finished 770 behind. Sanchez appears to have a solid approach with regards to pitch selection but again we’re talking 20 years down the road with this mark.
Stolen Bases – Derek Jeter 358
I place this one in the category of not impossible but improbable. Jeter had longevity on his side. The man whose record he broke, Rickey Henderson, had a dominant five-year stretch where he led the league four times. Gardner is sixth with 218 and he doesn’t steal with regularity anymore. Jacoby Ellsbury, who was supposed to be a burner, ranks 37th with 80 swipes. Even if Ellsbury stayed healthy and averaged 30 steals per season for the duration of his contract, he’d still come up short. Perhaps a Jorge Mateo could mount a challenge if he pans out and sticks with the Yankees.
Batting Average – Babe Ruth .349
This record looks like a lock too. It’s an old stat and teams place more emphasis on on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Even if they did, this record isn’t falling anytime soon.