Some people have said, "Anybody can play first base." But that's not really true, there's more to the position than some fans think. A first baseman needs good hands, quick feet, agility, and the ability to make split second decisions on plays such as bunts and cutoffs. Let's not forget the skill of scooping infielders' bad throws out of the dirt. All of these can save a team runs, and sometimes can mean the difference between a win and a loss. The Yankees have had some great hitters at the position, and several have also been outstanding defensive players. Here are the top five in franchise history.
5) Chris Chambliss: A Gold Glove winner in 1978 when he led all first basemen in the American League with a .997 fielding percentage, Chambliss compiled a .282 batting average during his seven years and 885 games with the team. He had 90 or more RBI's for three consecutive seasons and hit perhaps the most legendary home run in Yankee history, a blast that came in the bottom of the ninth inning in the seventh game of the 1976 American League Championship Series, giving New York its first pennant in 12 years.
4) Bill Skowron: A five time All Star, Skowron appeared in 1,087 games during nine years with the Yankees, contributing to championship titles in 1956, 1958, 1961, and 1962. In 35 World Series games he hit .283 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI's.
3) Tino Martinez: Playing in 1,054 games in seven years, Martinez drove in over 100 runs in five of those seasons. A key member of four World Championship teams, he averaged .276, hit 192 home runs, and drove in 739 runs in his Yankee career.
2) Don Mattingly: A six time All Star, awarded nine Gold Gloves for defensive excellence, and winner of the 1985 American League MVP award, Mattingly played in 1,785 games in his 14 year career, all with the Yankees. His .307 batting average ranks ninth on the Yankees all time list. He holds the team record for sacrifice flies with 96, is fourth in doubles with 442, seventh in hits with 2,153, eighth in total bases with 3,301, tenth in runs scored with 1,007, and tenth in RBI's with 1,099.
1) Lou Gehrig: Named the American League MVP in 1927 and 1936, and winner of the Triple Crown in 1934, Gehrig played in 2,164 games during 17 years with the Yankees, leading the team to six World Series titles in the 1920's and 1930's. In 34 World Series games he hit .361 with 10 homers and 35 RBI's. He is first in Yankee history with 534 doubles, first in triples with 163, first in RBI's with 1,995, and second in hits with 2,721. His .340 batting average, .447 on-base percentage, .632 slugging percentage, and 1,888 runs scored are second in team history, behind only Babe Ruth. Gehrig's astounding numbers also place him among major league baseball's all time leaders in many hitting categories. He is easily the best first baseman in Yankee history, and perhaps the best to ever play the game.