3. Mickey Mantle (1951-1967): The big debate between Yankee centerfielders inevitably comes down to DiMaggio or Mantle. For the third slot I’m going Mantle by a wider margin that many would think. The one black mark on Mickey’s stat line is his .298 batting average (19 points under Derek’s), pulled under .300 by the ridiculous pitching of the pre-mound lowered late '60s and Mantle’s own deteriorating body. His career was cut tragically short by injuries and booze but his peripherals tell the full story of his greatness. His .421/.557/.977 line is stellar for his era, shown by his 172 OPS + (7th all time and 3rd on the Yankees list behind Ruth and Gehrig). Add to that his 18 home runs in 12 World Series appearances (7 wins) and Mantle’s placement at 3rd on this list seems more than justified. DiMaggio may have been a more consistent hitter but when Mantle was healthy his superiority in the Yankee universe is rivaled only by that of Ruth.
Jeter and Mantle had totally different styles at the plate but that doesn't take away from the fact that Jeter has struck out 256 less times than Mantle in 491 more at bats.4. Joe DiMaggio (1936-1951): DiMaggio, like Mantle, saw his career cut short (by service time, not whiskey and misplaced drain caps) but he still managed to put together one of baseball's greatest careers. A legend in the field and at the plate, DiMaggio is fourth on the Yankees all-time list in batting average (one place above Jeter at .325), 7th in OBP (.398), and 4th in total bases (3948, again one spot ahead of Derek). The most comparable player to Jeter stylistically on this list, DiMaggio’s power numbers put him above Jeter for now (361 to 223 HRs).
But by the time Jeter calls it a career he will have, at the very least, surpassed Joltin' Joe in total bases and possibly batting average (he's eight points back at .325 and is hitting .333 after going 2-for-4 in Friday's game). Derek will also be the only Yankee in history with 3,000 hits, possibly moving him ahead of DiMaggio on that statistical merit alone, especially if he maintains his batting average and can even better Joe in that category.