Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News writes that the New York Yankees infield may be one of the greatest of all time.
The infield of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira is one of the vital cogs in the Yankees’ great season so far, but their impact may be much deeper, in terms of baseball history. Some believe, with apologies to the immortal Tinker to Evers to Chance, or to Connie Mack and his “$100,000 Infield” of the 1910s, that the Yankees’ “$78 Million Infield” – their combined salaries – could one day be the finest all-around group ever.
Let us call your hyperbole and raise you with actual, you know, facts.
For the 2009 season, one can make a strong case that the Yankees infield is not even the best in their own division.
As you can see, the Rays quartet compares quite nicely to the Yankees. In fact, where the Rays separate themselves is defensively. Evan Longoria, Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena dwarf the Yankees in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). So while the key offense indices (OPS and wOBA*) are very similar, the Rays defense gives them 2 more wins above replacement (WAR) than the Yankees.
For fun, let’s compare the Return on Investment for each infield. We can take the dollar value of the WAR figures (via Fangraphs) and compare those values to each player’s actual salary.
OK. That really isn’t fair, but it sure is funny to see it in print.
The Yankees infield is great. No doubt about it. And we don’t want to downplay the context of having that collection of talent in the same infield from a historical perspective. Two of the four are first-ballot Hall of Famers. The other two have played in three all-star games. But let’s ease up on the gas pedal when comparing them to the greatest infields ever. Especially when the Yankees can’t even get out of their own garage.
*the combined wOBA values for each infield are estimations based on the wOBA of each player. The exact values may be off a point or two, but it does show that each team is still in the same neighborhood.
A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano & Mark Teixeira making strong case as greatest quartet of all time [New York Daily News]