First published on the blog Ronald Phillips New York
In my humble opinion, the 1986 World Series championship team deserves to be recognized as the greatest Yankees team ever assembled. In this year, they won their second of three consecutive World Championships. The pitching staff was very solid throughout the season, with aces Dave Righetti and Ron Guidry both winning 20 games each in back-to-back seasons.
They also had pitchers like Luis Tiant and Steve Trout helping to take some pressure off the aging pitching staff. The 1986 season also marked the first time that Don Mattingly got his opportunity to play every day, as the team dealt away Dave Winfield to make room for their young talented first baseman. Mattingly would go on to have his best season by far, winning the AL batting crown with a .343 average while driving in 145 runs.
However, the real strength of this team was their strong starting lineup, which featured four players who would go on to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, and outfielder Reggie Jackson. In addition, the 2nd half of this team’s lineup was explosive, producing an average of 5.5 runs per game after the All-Star break. These hitters were so good that they could often produce run totals in excess of seven runs when they had all their regular players in the starting lineup together.
The 1986 Yankees finished the season with a 100-63 record and swept the World Series by defeating the cross-town rival New York Mets four games to none.
Other Legendary Team Lineups
The 1978 Yankees were led by MVP catcher Thurman Munson, who hit .302 with 104 RBIs. They also got a big boost from Bucky Dent, who finished the season batting .290 while knocking in 100 runs of his own. This team had many other great players, including Ron Guidry, who won 24 games, and Tommy John, who won 21 games as a relief pitcher. The Yankees pitching staff as a whole had an ERA of 3.21, the fourth-best team ERA in the American League that year.
This 1978 squad was not as fearsome offensively as their previous World Series championship teams; however, they were good enough to win 97 games and finish behind only the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. They were able to beat Baltimore by one game in the final standings, which is notable because they later eliminated that team four games to two in the ALCS.
The 1981 Yankees won 99 games and defeated the Kansas City Royals four games to two in a hard-fought World Series. This year was one of the more difficult seasons of the dynasty years; not only did they play a good Kansas City team in the World Series, but they would have to do it without their captain Thurman Munson.
This team managed to reach the World Series because of an extraordinary performance by MVP Ron Guidry, who went 25-3 that year while finishing with a 1.74 ERA. The Yankees pitching staff also got a lift from Tommy John, who won 16 games after coming over in the infamous Catfish Hunter trade with the Athletics.