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September 28, 2006

Greatest Lineup Ever?
by SG

After last night's 16-5 offensive explosion, it seems like a good time to tackle a question that Chofo posed in the comments section a few days ago. Where does the lineup the Yankees sent out yesterday rank among the best single game lineups of all time.

Tom Verducci did a lot the leg work on this in this article, although his method of picking the teams based on their seasonal output doesn't really answer the question correctly in my mind. I took his list of teams (1932 Yankees, 1936 Yankees,1953 Dodgers,1976 Reds, and 2006 Yankees), added the 1995 Cleveland Indians to the mix, and then compared their starting eight (or nine) by OPS+. OPS+ is a way to adjust a player's OPS for their league and park factors, and express it in terms of a number where 100 is exactly average, less than 100 is worse than average, greater than 100 is better. The formula is:

(OBP/lgOBP + SLG/lgSLG - 1)* 100

It's not a complete picture of offensive ability by any means, but for a quick and dirty comparision between eras like this it works well enough I think.

Anyway, here are the lineups for each of the teams listed above for the season in question with their OPS+, followed by the team average.

Update: Fixed chart to show 1953 Dodgers, not Yankees. (Thanks to Nicholas K.)

By OPS+, the 2006 Yankees are fifth. You could probably argue that Sheffield and maybe Rodriguez's season OPS+ depresses their ability, but I'd say Jeter and Abreu (I'm only using his Yankee OPS+) offset that.

It'll be fun to watch them hit, but if they don't play passable defense and pitch decently, it won't matter that much.

As far as last night's game, it was nice to see Giambi back and hitting. I thought Gary Sheffield had his best game since he's been back, finally hitting a foul homer and pulling the ball better. Robinson Cano is just awesome. He's so awesome that words cannot do him justice. Bobby Abreu too. Jorge Posada has a career September line of .261/.348/.430, but this September he's hitting .320/.386/.613. Jorge tends to disappear in the postseason as the wear and tear of playing in all those games seems to catch up to him, so hopefully this bodes well for October.

Mariano Rivera pitched the seventh, which I thought was actually pretty smart, as he had to face better hitters in Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons and Ramon Hernandez. Mo was working from 94-96 and looked pretty nasty.