The 1992 Yankees finished 76-86, fourth in a seven-team division. They had one regular hitter (Danny Tartabull) with an OPS above .800 and one regular starting pitcher (Melido Perez) with an ERA under 4.
That team was the last Yankee team to end a season under .500 and also the last to not have a future Hall of Famer.
A quick history: The Yankees (then the Highlanders) launched in 1903 with two future Hall of Fame players: Willie Keeler and Jack Chesbro. That duo departed following the 1909 season, leaving the Yankees without a future Hall of Famer from 1910-12. Frank Chance passed through in 1913 and 1914, followed by Dazzy Vance in 1915, then Frank Baker from 1916-19, bridging the gap to Babe Ruth and the rest of Murderer’s Row.
The Yankees then had at least one Hall of Famer appear in a game in every season through 1968, when Mickey Mantle retired.
After a brief Hall-of-Famer drought, Catfish Hunter arrived in the Bronx in 1975 to start a new streak, which lasted until 1989, when Dave Winfield missed the entire season with a back injury. After Winfield left a year later, the Yankees played 1991 and 1992 without a future Hall of Famer (if Don Mattingly or Bernie Williams makes it via the Veteran’s Committee one day, never mind). Then Wade Boggs arrived to hold us over to Jeter and Rivera, who are not yet official Hall of Famers but might as well be.
Entering this year, the Yankees’ franchise has been in existence for 112 seasons and had a future Hall of Famer on its roster in 100 of them (1910-12, 1969-75, 1989, 1991-92 being the exceptions).
But what about this year?
The Yankees have been so stacked with stars over the last decade that it seems inconceivable they could have no future Hall of Famers on the current roster, but when you look at the names and the BBWAA’s recent history you realize that, fair or not, there are no locks.
Let’s go through the Yankees’ potential Hall of Famers one by one, from least to most likely to be enshrined, and assess the chances the 2015 squad joins the list of Hall-of-Famer-free Yankees teams.
Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann
These guys are good players who have had nice careers, but all are on the wrong side of 30 and not even halfway to Hall of Fame milestones and value-stat cutoffs. It would take a highly unusual late-career surge for any of these three to have a shot at the Hall.
Hall of Fame likelihood: Highly unlikely
Before this season, Tex looked like a long-shot, most likely destined for the proverbial Hall of Very Good. But after a huge bounce-back 2015 campaign, the 35-year-old should reach 400 home runs by the end of the season (he’s at 394 now) and set his sights on 500 with a few more good years.
Teixeira’s numbers already compare favorably to Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda, and with a few more strong seasons and that 500 home run milestone, the first baseman might have a shot.
Then again, as a relatively one-dimensional first-baseman who played his prime in a high-offense era, even 500 home runs might not be enough. And the odds of Teixeira replicating 2015 too far into the future? Not so good.
Hall of Fame likelihood: Unlikely
In a just world, Sabathia would be a borderline Hall of Famer, thanks to four top-five Cy Young finishes, a 117 ERA+ over nearly 3,000 innings, a 55 WAR (per Baseball-Reference) that puts him right on the edge of Hall standards.
But instead of a just world, we live in one where should-be shoo-ins Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina receive less than 40 percent of the BBWAA vote and should-be-borderline-candidate Kevin Brown is bounced on his first ballot with less than five percent of the vote.
According to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, which weighs peak and career value, Sabathia is clustered with Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, Johan Santana, and Tim Hudson in Hall worthiness.
Sabathia has as good a Hall argument as any of those candidates, but given the coming influx of borderline starting pitchers and the BBWAA’s hard-lining on Schilling and Mussina, Sabathia won’t make it without reversing his career’s downward spiral and adding to his resume.
Hall of Fame likelihood: Unlikely
Beltran will likely become a cause celebre for the sabermetric community. His career WAR is almost 70, per Baseball-Reference, territory that typically earns you automatic induction. Per JAWS, Beltran is the eighth best center fielder of all-time, without even taking into account his exceptional postseason performance.
That said, Beltran could suffer from having been good at many things and historically great at none. He’s 17 home runs away from 400 for his career, he’s hit only .280 lifetime, he’s finished top-five in MVP voting only once.
With a .280/.355/.491 slash line, 121 OPS+, 383 homers, 311 stolen bases and a good defensive record at a premium position, Beltran should be shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Instead it seems more likely he’ll hang around the ballot and need a groundswell to gain induction.
Hall of Fame likelihood: Somewhat likely
Call me crazy, but I’m fairly confident A-Rod gets into Cooperstown one day, along with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and all the rest of the alleged steroid cheats.
The BBWAA won’t do it, clearly, but one day when memories of the early-2000s PED outrage have faded, someone will look back on the gaudy numbers sitting outside of the Hall and decide to do something.
It may take 30 years for this prediction to bear out, but A-Rod will eventually have a plaque, and the 2015 Yankees will, retrospectively, have had a Hall of Famer.
Hall of Fame likelihood: Likely
Lead photo courtesy of Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports