Last Updated on October 24, 2023 at 9:42 am by John Allen
In its 121 years of MLB history, the New York Yankees have won an impressive tally of 27 World Championships. The team has notched an impressive 20 seasons with at least 100 wins, translating their success into postseason triumphs and clinching the coveted championship title nearly three times more often than the second most successful team, the Cardinals, with 10 titles.
With a galaxy of stars leading from the front, the Yankees have left an indelible mark in baseball producing Hall of Fame legends and ascending to one of the most illustrious positions among American sports teams. Here is a compilation of the five most unforgettable Yankees seasons.
#6: The 1977 Yankees
- Regular Season: 100-62
- Post-Season: 7-4
The 1977 Yankees, led by Reggie Jackson‘s remarkable three home runs in Game 6 of the World Series, firmly established themselves as one of the franchise’s all-time great teams. Their victory marked the Yankees’ first championship win in 15 years.
During the regular season, only two of the Yankees’ hitters managed a batting average above .300. Not a single pitcher on the team reached the milestone of 17 or more wins. The Yankees narrowly edged out the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS, scoring three crucial runs in the ninth inning of Game 5.
Considering these challenges, it becomes evident that the obstacles faced by the 1977 Yankees served as a wellspring of motivation on their path to the championship.
#5: The 2009 Yankees
- Regular Season: 103-59
- Post-Season: 11-4
The year 2009 marked the Yankees’ return to the championship pinnacle after nearly a decade-long wait. This duration was deemed far too protracted for the late owner, George Steinbrenner, who was synonymous with the unwavering winning ethos he ingrained in the city of New York.
The 103 regular season victories represented the Yankees’ highest win total since 2002, a season that concluded with an ALDS loss to the Anaheim Angels.
In the pursuit of their championship, the Yankees expertly assembled their roster through free agency, acquiring notable names like Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Nick Swisher, who played integral roles in the success.
Teixeira and Swisher’s combined output amounted to an impressive 78 home runs and 204 RBIs. Meanwhile, the pitching duo of Sabathia and Burnett contributed with a combined record of 32-17 and an impressive 392 strikeouts over 437 innings.
The World Series victory held particular significance as it marked the first championship for both Alex Rodriguez and the newly appointed manager, Joe Girardi.
#4: The 1961 Yankees
- Regular Season: 109-53
- World Series: 4-1
In 1961, when you mention Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and a World Series championship, the baseball world knows the story.
The dynamic duo of Maris and Mantle collectively crushed 115 home runs and drove in 269 runs during their legendary home run race to surpass Babe Ruth. Their incredible season established them as perhaps the most dominant hitting pair in baseball history.
The Yankees’ regular season success, with 109 wins, ranks as the third-highest in the franchise’s storied history. Roger Maris’s second AL MVP award further exemplified his remarkable contributions to the team.
Whitey Ford, who claimed the Cy Young award, displayed masterful pitching in the championship series, amassing a 2-0 record and earning himself the MVP title. Ford’s 1961 season represented a career peak, with impressive statistics such as 25 wins, 283 innings pitched, and 209 strikeouts, establishing him as a true Hall of Fame pitcher.
With the exceptional combination of Whitey Ford’s pitching and the hitting prowess of Mantle and Maris, the 1961 New York Yankees could credibly stake a claim as the finest team in franchise history.
#3. The 1939 Yankees
- Regular Season: 106-45
- World Series: 4-0
This particular team faced one of the most formidable challenges in the history of the Yankees franchise. It was the retirement of the iconic Lou Gehrig, a true Yankee legend, brought about by his battle with ALS, which compelled him to bid farewell to the game of baseball on June 21, 1939.
Gehrig’s poignant farewell speech on July 4th remains one of the most memorable moments in the annals of baseball. During that speech, he uttered the unforgettable words, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Despite the loss of one of the all-time greats in baseball, the 1939 Yankees managed to harness the MVP-caliber performance of Joe DiMaggio, who was in his third year with the team. This exceptional talent propelled them to their fourth consecutive championship and eighth overall franchise title.
DiMaggio’s remarkable .381 batting average, which topped the entire MLB, served as a testament to the Yankees’ ability to secure victories even in the absence of Gehrig’s exceptional contribution.
#2: The 1998 Yankees
- Regular Season: 114-48
- Post-Season: 11-2
The 1998 New York Yankees can proudly stake a claim not only as the best team in the history of the franchise but also as one of the finest in the annals of baseball.
Their remarkable achievement of 114 regular-season victories stands as an unparalleled record in the history of the Yankees, signifying a truly historic accomplishment.
Throughout the post-season, the Yankees continued their winning ways, amassing an impressive 11-2 record and securing a World Series sweep against the Padres. This achievement would serve as the starting point for a remarkable three-peat of titles from 1998 to 2000.
The Yankees’ offense was a force to be reckoned with, leading the league in runs and walks, ranking second in hits and batting average, and fourth in home runs. However, their pitching prowess was equally remarkable.
With the presence of a 20-game winner in David Cone, an 18-game winner in David Wells, and a 16-game winner in Andy Pettitte, the starting rotation combined for an impressive 79-35 record, featuring 21 complete games and seven shutouts.
The World Series victory not only solidified Joe Torre as one of the greatest managers in the history of the New York Yankees but also earned him his second Manager of the Year award during his illustrious career.
The 1998 season remains unparalleled as the most prolific year for a Yankees team in the modern era of baseball.
#1: The 1927 Yankees
- Regular Season: 110-44
- World Series: 4-0
The 1927 Yankees and the 1998 team share many similarities, with one notable exception: Babe Ruth‘s incredible 60 home runs.
When we wisely omit the steroid era and the records set within that period, the only individual to surpass Ruth’s single-season home run record in the 84-year span since he established it is his fellow Yankee, Roger Maris, with 61 home runs in 1961.
Ruth’s home run tally in 1927 was an astounding career-high, further accompanied by 158 runs and 164 RBIs. Gehrig, as he consistently did, provided unwavering support for the “Great Bambino” with 47 home runs and led the league with 175 RBIs, ultimately securing the 1927 MVP award, surpassing even Ruth.
Dubbed “Murder’s Row,” the Yankees’ lineup in 1927 is often regarded as one of the greatest ever assembled.
Ruth and Gehrig arguably performed at the peak of their careers throughout that season, culminating in a World Series sweep over the Pirates. This marked the first instance of an American League team sweeping a National League opponent in the championship series.
While contemporary hitters like Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds command attention, there’s a tendency to overlook baseball’s rich history and the legendary players who starred in those historic seasons. The 1927 New York Yankees boasted two of the most iconic and remarkable players in the annals of baseball, making this assembly of players the best Yankees team in the franchise’s history.
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