Juan Soto Brings Back Murderers’ Row to the New York Yankees

With the addition of Juan Soto to a team that already featured Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees have the chance to create a historic lineup.

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 04: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees smiles as he rounds the bases after hitting his 62nd home run of the season against the Texas Rangers during the first inning in game two of a double header at Globe Life Field on October 4, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Bailey Orr/Texas Rangers/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees are back to being the Evil Empire.

When the San Diego Padres put Juan Soto back on the trade market ahead of his free agency, the Yankees saw the opportunity to land a generational talent and they did not miss it.

Longtime GM Brian Cashman made sure the Yankees added Juan Soto, trading a large package of pitchers to acquire the four-time Silver Slugger.

Now looking ahead to the 2024 season, the Yankees are faced with incredible expectations, which they are used to carrying as the most storied franchise in professional sports. Just like it always was under the late great George Steinbrenner, it is World Series or bust for the Yankees.

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While we could talk about the risk that the Yankees just took on what is essentially a rental for now, what they really did was give themselves a chance at greatness. Pairing Aaron Judge with Juan Soto is an offensive duo that will have Yankees fans salivating.

Featuring the greatest power bat and on-base threat of this generation, the Yankees have a chance to recreate a lineup that has stood the test of time for over a century. The hope here for the Yankees is that they have just recreated the Murderers’ Row from all the way back in 1927.

Who Made Up the Original Murderers’ Row?

The New York Yankees are a franchise that has a rich winning tradition, which goes all the back to the 1920s and 1930s. Back when they were winning their first four World Series titles with Babe Ruth.

Ruth was and still is considered one of, if not the greatest player in the history of the sport.

While his talent was unmatched, Ruth won World Series titles with a lot of other great players. None better than fellow inner-circle Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig.

Dating back to 1927, the year in which the Yankees won their second World Series title, a nickname was formed for their lineup that is still used as commonly in the game to this day.

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They had a, “Murderers’ Row”. A group of hitters so talented, pitchers had no way to pitch around them. But while the name suggests a long list of excellent bats, looking back at the original Murderers’ Row, what you will find is that there were two names levitating far above everyone else.

The original Murderers’ Row of the 1927 Yankees consisted of six batters: Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri.

Combs was a Hall of Famer in his own right and set the table, leading the league with 231 hits and 23 triples. He hit .356 and scored 137 runs. Tony Lazzeri is a Hall of Famer as well and he hit over .300 with over 100 runs driven in batting sixth.

In between shortstop Mark Koenig batted second and hit .285 with 62 runs batted in and Bob Meusel hit .337 with over 100 runs driven in batting behind Gehrig in the five-hole.

Really though, looking at the stats of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1927, it is pretty clear what really made that Yankees lineup so “murderous”.

Babe Ruth151540192.356.486.772601641.258225
Lou Gehrig155584218.373.474.765471731.240220
1927 Stats for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig

Ruth and Gehrig combined to hit 107 home runs and drive in 337 runs in 1927. With both sporting an on-base percentage over .470. The No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in the that lineup were basically doing damage in some capacity half of the time.

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The 1927 Yankees won 110 games, and would sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.

Ruth and Gehrig went on to win the World Series together again in 1928, and one last time in 1932. Then after Ruth retired, he was replaced in the middle of the lineup by Joe DiMaggio and the pairing of Gehrig and DiMaggio won three-straight in 1936-1938.

There will never be another duo as dominant as Ruth and Gehrig because the game has evolved in some many ways over the years. The talent gap between Ruth and Gehrig and the rest of the league at the time was stark. Pitching was also nowhere near as tough to face as in today’s game.

Now as we flash-forward nearly a century, the New York Yankees feature the chance to have a lineup that can actually rival the Murderers’ Row of the past. Because they finally have two hitters who have the chance to be inner-circle Hall of Famers like Ruth and Gehrig.

While Juan Soto and Aaron Judge could never dream to replicate the production of those two Yankees greats, they do have the chance to create a similar impact and trickle-down effect for the rest of the lineup.

Creating the New Murderers’ Row

There have been three Yankees in franchise history that have eclipsed 60 home runs in a given season. First it was Babe Ruth back in 1927. Next it was Roger Maris, who broke Ruth’s record with 61 home runs hit in 1961. Finally, we saw Aaron Judge set the franchise record with 62 back in 2022.

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When Judge signed his nine-year, $360 million contract with the New York Yankees last offseason, he put himself in line to become one of the greatest players to ever wear pinstripes. He was already there with the peaks we have seen in his young career, but now with the chance to add to his legacy he can finish his career in the rarified air of the Ruth’s and the Gehrig’s.

The one thing he is missing on his resume more than anything else right now though is the World Series championship. Something that has eluded this iconic franchise coming up on 15 years now.

They need to win and trading for Juan Soto should go a long way to help them do that.

If we compare the stats of Ruth and Gehrig from 1927, to the numbers that Aaron Judge posted during his MVP run in 2022, and Juan Soto posted in his MVP runner-up season of 2021, it is pretty clear that the Yankees new lineup has a ton of potential.

Babe Ruth151540192.356.486.772601641.258225
Lou Gehrig155584218.373.474.765471731.240220
1927 Yankees
Aaron Judge157570177.311.425.686621311.258210
Juan Soto155584218.313.465.5342995.999175
2022 MVP season for Judge and 2021 MVP runner-up for Juan Soto

Soto is an on-base machine, carrying a career 19% walk rate that is greater than his career 17.1% strikeout rate. With a lifetime .421 on-base percentage, Soto is the active career leader among all qualified major leaguers.

Meanwhile, you have Judge who has a career .586 slugging percentage, which is the active leader on that front as well.

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Whether the Yankees chose to put Soto in front of Judge, where he can get on-base in front of as many Judge homers as possible. Or if they want to provide their best player with more protection than he has ever had by batting Soto behind him, the Yankees new one-two punch will be lethal.

Beyond them though, the question is if they have enough other hitters to fill out the lineup and really make the most out of the one-year window where they for sure have Judge and Soto together.

Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton all figure to play prominent roles, coming off years where age and injury really started to show for the former All-Stars.

Gleyber Torres on the other hand is in his prime, coming off his best season in years. Set to play out a contract year at 27 years old, the Yankees should get the best out of Torres. Paired with him up the middle is Anthony Volpe, who brings a Gold Glove and 20-HR power to the lineup.

In the outfield, Soto and Judge will be paired with more new additions in Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham. Verdugo is another guy in a contract year, while Grisham goes from being a glove-first stating center fielder to a high-end fourth outfielder.

With Oswald Pereza, Oswaldo Cabrera and Everson Pereira, the Yankees have some extra youth they can lean on to fill all the gaps, giving Aaron Boone a versatile and deep roster. The expected return of Jasson Dominguez midseason could only take this team to the next level.

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Still, looking at the other teams in the American League, there is so much competition right now that nothing is assured when it comes to the Yankees, no matter how high-end their top talent is.

The Yankees still have to add pitching and will be active doing so throughout the rest of the offseason. They just dealt a lot of their depth to acquire Soto, Grisham and Verdugo, so making the right moves within the margins will be imperative for the Yankees.

Thinking big picture though, the trade for Juan Soto is one they had to make.

They now have a year to put things together to try to win a World Series, or get as close as they possibly can. Having a great season in 2024 is going to be crucial to being able to re-sign Soto next offseason, when he becomes the best free agent in the sport at just 26 years old.

Gehrig and Ruth spent 11 seasons together in the Yankees lineup, as they dominated the sport together for a decade. For Soto and Judge to create a similar legacy for themselves, it all starts with having a great season in 2024.