Constantino Martinez made his living driving in runs. The first baseman's career batting average going into the 2001 season was a tolerable .273, but that statistic belies Martinez's true value to the team. With bases empty, the Yankee slugger hit only .264. But with runners in scoring position his average jumped to .293, and he hit a third of his 229 career dingers in that situation. With the bases loaded Martinez's average escalated to .304. Martinez's clutch hitting with sure hands and quiet leadership in the locker room made him one of the cornerstones of the Yankee dynasty of the late 90s.
Martinez replaced another Yankee legend, Don Mattingly, who retired after the 1995 season. Arriving from Seattle during the off-season with relievers Jim Mecir and Jeff Nelson, Martinez knew that he had some big shoes to fill. But by batting .292 with 25 homers and 117 RBI and leading the team to its first championship in 18 years, he made plenty of friends in New York.