There may not be any Hall of Famers on this list, but the New York Yankees have had some talented players man left field in their history.
Let’s look at the five greatest left fielders in Yankees history.
5. Brett Gardner (Yankees tenure: 2008-Present)
• 1,499 games, .260/.342/.401, .743 OPS, 101 OPS+, 124 home runs, 524 RBIs, 27.5 oWAR, 12.8 dWAR
For the first time in this series, a player who is still on the Yankees makes the cut. Brett Gardner has been a solid, productive, and consistent player for the organization his entire career.
A homegrown talent, Gardner is currently the longest-tenured Yankee and is the only player left from the 2009 World Series team. He was an All-Star in 2015 and a Gold Glove winner in 2016.
Gardner also led the American League in stolen bases in 2011 and in triples in 2013. He’s always been one of the fastest players in the league but has also become somewhat of a power-hitter in his own right in recent years.
Known for his outstanding defense, Gardner is arguably the greatest defensive left fielder in franchise history. His .992 fielding percentage is good for ninth among all active outfielders.
He’s second among Yankees left fielders in plate appearances (5,995), at-bats (5,220), runs (876), doubles (230), and triples (68). He’s third in hits (1,355) and walks (613) and additionally fourth in home runs and RBIs.
Gardner is third in franchise history in stolen bases (267).
He’s currently signed to a one-year deal, but the hope is that he sticks around longer than that. Gardner is a fan-favorite but also a bonafide leader and workhorse whose veteran presence is much-needed on such a young team.
4. Hideki Matsui (Yankees tenure: 2003-09)
• 916 games, .292/.370/.482, .852 OPS, 123 OPS+, 140 home runs, 597 RBIs, 22.5 oWAR, -5.9 dWAR
Coming in at No. 4 is an ex-teammate of Gardner. Hideki Matsui wasn’t a Yankee for too long but became a fan-favorite during his time in New York. “Godzilla” spent the first 10 years of his career in Japan but made an immediate impact upon joining MLB.
He was the American League Rookie of the Year runner-up, a two-time All-Star, World Series champion, and the 2009 World Series MVP. Matsui is also a member of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
He was obviously impactful both in the regular season and postseason. Matsui ranks third among Yankees left fielders in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. He ranks fourth in doubles (196), home runs, and RBIs.
3. Roy White (Yankees tenure: 1965-79)
• 1,881 games, .271/.360/.404, .764 OPS, 121 OPS+, 160 home runs, 758 RBIs, 44.2 oWAR, -5.8 dWAR
Roy White was a Yankee much longer than anyone on this list and underwent a productive career in left field for the Bronx Bombers. He spent his entire career in New York where he was a two-time All-Star and World Series champion.
He led the American League in walks in 1972 and in runs in 1976. White was known for his remarkable consistency. He led MLB in games played twice and the American League in plate appearances twice.
White also led American League left fielders in putouts eight times, assists twice, and fielding percentage five times. White is first among Yankees left fielders in plate appearances (7,735), at-bats (6,650), runs (964), hits (1,803), and walks (934).
He’s second in doubles (300), home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases (233). White additionally put up respectable postseason numbers. In 25 games, he slashed .278/.387/.430 with an OPS of .817.
2. Bob Meusel (Yankees tenure: 1920-29)
• 1,294 games, .311/.358/.500, .858 OPS, 121 OPS+, 146 home runs, 1,009 RBIs, 26.2 oWAR, -4.2 dWAR
A member of the infamous “Murderer’s Row” lineup, Bob Meusel got the job done for the Yankees in left for almost 10 years.
Nicknamed “Long Bob,” Meusel was a three-time World Series champion and in 1925, he led MLB in games and the American League in home runs and RBIs.
Meusel is first among Yankees left fielders in batting average, doubles (338), triples (87), and RBIs. He’s second in hits (1,565) and slugging and additionally third in home runs and stolen bases (134).
1. Charlie Keller (Yankees tenure: 1939-43, 1945-49, 1952)
• 1,066 games, .286/.410/.518, .928 OPS, 152 OPS+, 184 home runs, 723 RBIs, 38.4 oWAR, -0.9 dWAR
It’s hard to disagree that Charlie Keller is the greatest left fielder in Yankees history. During his time with the ballclub, Keller was a five-time All-Star, four-time World Series champion, finished fifth in MVP voting in 1941, and led the American League in walks in 1940.
In 1943, he led MLB in walks and the American League in both OPS and OPS+. Nicknamed “King Kong,” Keller was a feared slugger in the Yankees lineup. His OPS+ is good for 27th all time.
Defensively, Keller led American League left fielders in putouts four times and in fielding percentage twice. He also succeeded in the postseason. Having boasted a .306 batting average, five home runs, 18 RBIs, and struck out just 11 times in 19 World Series games.
Unfortunately, a herniated disc and his subsequent surgery following his return from military service never allowed him to be the same. Even so, Keller is first among Yankees left fielders in home runs, OBP, SLG, OPS, and fWAR (44.9).
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