Being a captain for the New York Yankees means more than just having a C on your jersey, even though Yankee captains don’t really get the C. Being a captain on the Yankees means much more than just having great numbers as well. You have to be a clubhouse leader. A player that sets the example for the rest of the locker room.
You don’t just become captain of the Yankees because of your statistics. Some of the greatest Yankees in history never donned the C. Players such as Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and, in my opinion, the greatest baseball player ever, Joey D, Joe DiMaggio.
You see, after Lou Gehrig had passed away, the Yankees organization vowed to never have another captain. Gehrig’s impact on the franchise and his incredible play made the team feel like nobody could replace him. It took George Steinbrenner coming in and naming Thurmon Munson captain 30 years after Gehrig.
So that got me to thinking. Derek Jeter has been retired for 5 years now, leaving the Yankees without a captain ever since. I don’t think the team is in desperate need for a captain, but I wanted to make the case for the only two players I see possibly becoming the next Yankee captain.
Aaron Judge. The 6’7, 280 pound outfielder is, in my opinion, the top choice for future Yankee captain. The Yankees drafted Judge in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft out of Cal State Fresno.
Judge made his MLB debut in 2016 in a big way. He and his teammate Tyler Austin, who was also making his MLB debut, hit back to back home runs in their first at-bats. The future looked bright for Judge at that moment, however the big man struggled through the rest of the 2016 campaign.
But in 2017? 2017 marked a coming out party for Judge. In his rookie year, he set the MLB record for most home runs in a rookie year with 52. (Salute to Pete Alonso). He holds the record for most walks by a rookie with 127. He was the first rookie in MLB history with 45 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 runs scored.
Judge also holds a franchise record for most home runs hit at home with 33. He was the first right-handed batter with 100 RBIs, 100 home runs, and 100 walks in a season. Judge is also the 5th Yankee to start an All-Star game in his first two seasons.
But as stated earlier, being a captain isn’t just about numbers. It’s about respect and leadership, two things that Judge has more of than any Yankee today. Listen to the way Judge talks to media. The guy always puts the team first and will always try to take blame when he doesn’t perform well.
The way his teammates talk about him is nothing short of incredible. There is no question who the leader of that locker room is. When asked about if Judge should be captain or not, Yankee reliever Zack Britton said, “I don’t even think Judge needs it. He’s already that to the guys in the clubhouse, so I don’t think you need the confirmation.”
Not to even mention those awesome videos you see of Judge playing catch with young fans in between innings. I mean, I know there are a lot of players that do this, but it truly seems like Judge has no problem, and even loves making the fans happy.
It may not happen right away. Judge is going to be 28 years old, and hasn’t even played in a World Series yet. He does have a propensity to strike out….a lot. Health issues also seem to be a concern going forward. But I truly believe when it comes time for the Yankees to pick their next captain, “All Rise” Aaron Judge will be tops on the list.
Alright, so I know I may be getting ready to stick my foot in my mouth, but it’s for good reason. Gleyber Torres may not be one of the people you think of as a team leader in the locker room, but on the field? I think that is a different story.
Gleyber Torres was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the trade that sent All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to the future World Series Champions. Torres made his MLB debut in April of 2018. In a game against the Indians, Torres became the youngest player in Yankees history to hit a home run since John Ellis in 1969.
Then in May, Torres hit home runs in four straight games, becoming the youngest player in American League history to do so. In 2019, Torres became the fourth youngest Yankee player with 4 hits, and 3 extra base hits in a game since Joe DiMaggio.
That’s not the only stat Torres shares with the great Yankee Clipper. Torres is just the second Yankee player to hit for 30 home runs in a single season at the age of 22 or younger since DiMaggio in 1937. Torres’ 39 home runs that year made him the second ever middle infielder since Alex Rodriguez to do so before age-23 season, and only the third Yankee to have 2, 20+ home run seasons before the age of 23. The other two? Micky Mantle…and of course Joe DiMagio.
Oh…did I mention Gleyber Torres is just 22 years old? In my totally unbiased (sarcasm) opinion, I truly believe Gleyber Torres will eventually be regarded as the best player in baseball. You heard that right. Gone will be the days of Mike Trout, and the days of Gleyber will be here. At that point, how could the Yankees not name him captain?
In all accounts, Torres is an extremely private person. In the book Inside the Empire by Bob Klapisch and Paul Solotaroff, Gleyber is described as being a person who “shields his privacy fiercely. He never gossips, especially about himself. His personal bio line in the Yankees’ media guide is eight words long.”
Gleyber, being from Venezuela, wasn’t that great of an English speaker. However according to Klapisch, “When he was DL’ed last year, he worked so diligently on his English that he now declines an interpreter when he speaks. Still, he talks only to a handful of teammates.” That, to me at least, shows the drive that Torres has on and off the field.
So as I said, this may be putting my foot in my mouth, but if Gleyber does in fact start being regarded as on the leagues best players, I believe it would almost force the Yankees to slap the C on his chest. Especially if the kid wins 2 or 3 World Series rings before the age of 25.
Who do you believe should be the next Yankee captain? Is there anybody on the current Yankees team that you believe should be a captain? Be sure to let us know!
Featured photo source: Adam Hunger (SNY)
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