This little phrase has been resonating in my head for almost two weeks now.
“Core Four”, “Core Four”, ”Core Four”, ”Core Four”.
I guess that means that I need to do a post about it, huh??
It’s harder to rank players while they’re still active. One phenomenal season by any one of these guys and the rankings could change. Jorge Posada may decide he wants to pitch next year and if he wins 20 games, the rankings would certainly change. Mariano Rivera may decide he wants to play Center field next year and if he steals 100 bases, the rankings would certainly change. Derek Jeter may put on 45 pounds of muscle in the offseason and if he crushes 75 home runs, the rankings would certainly change. And Andy Pettitte may decide he wants to play catcher next year and if he throws out every base runner, the rankings would certainly change.
See what I mean?? Since it is so hard to predict the future of these 4 guys, my rankings will be solely based on what they have done from their debuts in the major leagues through the 2009 post season.
Here we go!!
4. Jorge Posada – My favorite of the bunch, Posada doesn’t get close to the credit he deserves for driving the Yankees ship for close to 15 years now. A 5-time All-star and 5-time Silver Slugger winner, most of what Jorge Posada does on the field goes un-noticed. This guy has been able to adapt and work with new veteran and rookie pitchers almost every season he has been in the league. He has worked with future Hall of Famers like Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson. He has worked perennial Cy Young caliber talent like CC Sabathia, Mike Mussina, and Andy Pettitte as well. Then you add all of the guys that the Yankees have tried to bring in to fill voids, and it is Posada who has taken them in and prepared them for games. Enough cannot be said for his dedication to his pitching staff – it’s just too obad that it doesn’t show up in the stat sheets.
Posada is closing in on 1,500 career hits and has 243 home runs and 964 RBI. In 2010, he should be able to eclipse the 1,500 hits, 250 home runs, and 1,000 RBI plateaus with relative ease. Keeping in mind that he averages 130-140 games a year, and his numbers are pretty solid.
Owner of 4 World Series championships, Jorge Posada has played in 111 post season contests.
3. Andy Pettitte – Pettitte could rank higher on this short list had he not defected to Houston for 3 big league seasons in the mid 2000′s. A picther with unquestionable talent, Pettitte has finished in the Top 6 for the Cy Young award 5 times in his career. While doing so, he appears to be getting better with age as well. In his 15 big league seasons, he has reached double-digit wins 14 times.
With a career win-loss record of 229-135, one has to wonder if 300 wins is in Pettitte’s future. At the age of 37 there is a possibility if he remains healthy and wants to pitch for 5-6 more years, but 250-260 is more realistic. Pettitte will enter the 2010 season with 2,150 career strikeouts on his resume. 2-3 more strong seasons from him and he should have no problem joining the 2,500 K’s Club.
Andy Pettitte owns 5 World Series rings. He has stared 13 games in the Fall Classic and owns a 5-4 record. For his post-season career, Pettitte has a 18-9 record. Just this past season, he took to the mound as the New York Yankees clinched their ALDS, ALCS, and World Series victories!!
2. Derek Jeter – Not enough can be said about the captain of the Yankees. It is very hard to not like Derek Jeter, and it is almost impossible to not respect his dedication to winning and the city of New York. The biggest star on a team full of superstars, the Yankees are Jeter’s team. And it will be this way until he retires from the sport.
The former 1996 Rookie of the Year is the all-time leader for career hits by a Yankee. And when you review their incredible history, that stat says quite a bit. Jeter is a 10-time All-star, 4-time Gold Glove winner, and 3-time winner of the Silver Slugger award. On top of that, he has finished in the Top 10 for the MVP voting 6 times. Derek Jeter has 2,747 career hits. At his current pace, he should gain entry into the 3,000 hits club sometime during the middle of the 2011 season. At the age of just 35 and with 4-5 good years of solid production still left in him, it’s also very possible that Jeter reaches the 300-HR plateau as he currently rests with 224 round trippers.
Derek Jeter owns 5 World Series championship rings. When the spotlight has been on him, he has shined brightly. To date, Jeter has a .321 World Series batting average while amassing 50 hits in 38 games. He has also collected the most hits in post-season history by any player!
1. Mariano Rivera – I don’t value the role of the closer as much as the next fan. But I do marvel at how calm and relaxed Mariano Rivera appears to be each and every time he takes to the field. In a pressure filled spot, we have all seen countless players attempt to close games. Some do well, many fail, and only 1 guy truly dominates – and that is Rivera!
In 15 big league seasons, Rivera has collected 526 saves, good for 2nd place all-time. He also owns a 71-52 record alongside a 2.25 ERA. In 1,090 innings pitched, Rivera has struck out 1,006 batters while walking just 256. His career 8.3 K’s/innings pitched and 3.93 K’s/walks ratios are incredibly impressive when you look at how many pressure filled situations these accomplishments have been obtained in. Rivera is the king of cool – and like his fellow Yankee teammates, he seems to get better with age as well. In 2009, ‘Mo’ collected his 7th 40+ save season. A few more of these and 600 career saves looks like an inevitable accomplishment.
Rivera has won the World Series 5 times. During the Fall Classic, he has recorded 11 saves alongside a 2-1 record. In 14 seasons in which his teams have made the post-season, Mariano Rivera has closed the game a major league record 39 times.
So there you have it. If I had to rank these 4 players on their careers as of today this is where they would place. Now if you ask me the same question 5 years from now, things could possibly change. I think that Rivera and Jeter have the top 2 spots locked down regardless of what they do for the rest of their careers, with Pettitte and Posada in a distant 3rd and 4th place.
What is fun to think about are the possible momentus occasions that may be on the way. Who knows how many more World Series championships these guys will win. And with Rivera, 600 saves sounds pretty cool. But for me, the greatest challenge that lies ahead, can be met by Derek Jeter. If health and time are on his side, I can see Jeter joining the very rare company of the 3,000 hits / 300 home runs / 300 steals club. And if he does that, I think he easily vaults into the top of the ‘Core 4′ group.
Then the question becomes, where does Jeter rank all-time… Oh, boy. Let the debates begin!!!