How Paul O’Neill Stacks Up Against the Other Yankees With Retired Numbers

Assuming the 2022 Major League Baseball season takes place, the New York Yankees plan to retire the No. 21 of Paul O’Neill on August 21 ahead of the Yanks’ matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays.

After spending the first eight seasons of his big-league career with the Cincinnati Reds, with whom he was a one-time All-Star and won a World Series, the outfielder affectionately known as “The Warrior” was traded to the Bronx in November 1992. O’Neill played his final nine seasons with the Yankees, for whom he made an additional four appearances in the All-Star Game.

The Ohio native also won an additional four World Series titles in New York and made a sixth overall appearance in the Fall Classic in 2001, the year in which the Yankees lost in seven memorable games to the Arizona Diamondbacks. O’Neill retired after the series. In addition to his five rings and five All-Star appearances, O’Neill also won a batting title in the strike-shortened 1994 season with a .359 average.

He finished his career with 2,105 hits, 281 home runs, 1,269 runs batted in, and a slash line of .288/.363/.470. But it’s only O’Neill’s numbers with the Yankees that we’ll be looking at a bit more closely today as we take a look at how his numbers compare with the other New York legends who’ve had their numbers retired.

How Paul O’Neill’s numbers stack up against the other New York Yankees legends to have their numbers retired

Paul O'Neill bats for the New York Yankees in August 1993
Paul O’Neill bats for the New York Yankees in August 1993 | Diamond Images/Getty Images

When this ceremony takes place, O’Neill will become the 23rd member of the Yankees to have his number retired. Now let’s get real here. Not everybody is on board with this. And I’ll personally admit to being a little shocked when I heard this was happening. It’s not that Paul O’Neill wasn’t a good ballplayer.

Because he certainly was. You don’t play 17 years, win five rings, play in five All-Star Games, and win a batting title if you’re not.

And that Seinfeld episode with the two home runs was absolute gold, am I right? But I digress.

So when O’Neill retired, did I really think I’d ever see his number retired by the Yankees? Absolutely not. But that’s not my call, will never be my call, and I genuinely congratulate Mr. O’Neill on this accomplishment.

But this argument will be a thing, so we thought we’d help out and see how his numbers with the Yankees stack up with the others who’ve received this honor. Naturally, it doesn’t make sense to include pitchers and managers, so they’ve been excluded here. And remember, only stats in a Yankees uniform are in play here. It should be noted that only regular season statistics are listed here.

GamesHitsHRRBISlash Line
2-Derek Jeter2,7473,4652601,311.310/.377/.440
3-Babe Ruth2,0842,5186591,978.349/.484/.711
4-Lou Gehrig2,1642,7214931,995.340/.447/.632
5-Joe DiMaggio1,7362,2143611,537.325/.398/.579
7-Mickey Mantle2,4012,4155361,509.298/.421/.557
8-Yogi Berra2,1162,1483581,430.285/.348/.483
8-Bill Dickey1,7891,9692021,209.313/.382/.486
9-Roger Maris850797203547.265/.356/.515
10-Phil Rizzuto1,6611,58838563.273/.351/.355
15-Thurman Munson1,4231,558113701.292/.346/.410
20-Jorge Posada1,8291,6642751,065.273/.374/.474
21-Paul O’Neill1,2541,426185858.303/.377/.492
23-Don Mattingly1,7852,1532221,099.307/.358/.471
32-Elston Howard1,4921,405161733.279/.324/.436
44-Reggie Jackson653661144461.281/.371/.526
51-Bernie Williams2,0762,3362871,257.297/.381/.477

And there you have it. Okay, so his numbers obviously don’t match up with the old-school legends like Ruth, Gehrig, or Mantle. But those are freakin’ video-game numbers anyway. And he didn’t have two decades in pinstripes like Jeter.

But O’Neill’s numbers are solid.

I mean, they’re better than Reggie Jackson’s. They’re better than those of Roger Maris. But people obviously remember three home runs in a World Series game or 61 home runs in a single season. Perhaps that’s why those names might seem like they belong a bit more.

But whether you agree with this decision by the Yankees or not, it’s happening.

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference