The Yankees are a great team. They currently posses the best record in baseball, but every team could use improvements. If you could add one Yankee player from their prime for the playoff run, who would it be?
There is no perfect answer. In their storied history, the Yankees have more Hall of Famers than any other team, so the options are endless. However, it’s not just about adding the best player, it’s also about fit. Babe Ruth would be a heck of an addition, however the Yankees already have an All-Star in right field. Yogi Berra was awesome, but the Yankees already have the best offensive catcher in the game (by far.)
This is a challenging exercise, so I narrowed it down to two candidates.
The case for Mickey Mantle
I think the fit here is obvious. Mickey was the original five tool player. A switch hitting center fielder with tremendous power and speed, Mantle would easily slot into the three hole. Forget about Aaron Hicks coming back, Mantle is like Hicks except he’s 100 times better. Mantle won seven World Series championships and hit a record 18 World Series homers, so the moment won’t get to him. His powerful bat would stretch the Yankee lineup even further. He would instantly be the most feared hitter in the lineup, offering elite protection for Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and the rest of the savages.
He would also fit right into the locker room. Mantle was a savage before it was cool. Staying out late partying, playing hurt, and not caring what people thought. He would fit right into the rock star culture that the Yankees have built. His defense in center field would be elite, and his switch-hitting prowess would make him a match-up nightmare against any pitcher.
The case for Roger Clemens
Another slam dunk. Clemens would immediately take his place as the Yankees game one starter. We know who Roger Clemens is: seven Cy Youngs, two World Series rings, 354 career wins and 4,672 career strikeouts. Clemens would be the most dangerous starter in the 2019 MLB playoffs, capable of starting two games in a five game series or three games in a seven game series.
Roger would bring a ferocity and competitive edge to the mound unmatched by any current starter. A strikeout machine, Clemens would be fine pitching in this version of Yankee Stadium, as he rarely allows anything hard hit in the air. Clemens was 12-8 with a 3.75 ERA in his playoff career. He’s started multiple game sevens and won’t be intimidated by the bright lights in the slightest. He would also fit the Yankees biggest area of need: front-line starting pitching. A notorious workhorse, Clemens could easily go eight innings and give the Yankees vaunted bullpen some rest. Justin Verlander doesn’t seem so scary when you have the Rocket going toe to toe with him.
I’m going with the Rocket. Mantle is my favorite Yankee that I never saw play, but I think Clemens would help this team more. The Yankees have multiple stud outfielders and a suspect starting pitching staff, so Clemens seems like a better fit. Furthermore, seeing Clemens on the mound snarling during the first inning in game one would certainly give the Yankees an enormous psychological edge.
Who would you go with?
Honorable mentions: Babe Ruth, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson.