Sunday, September 28, 2014

Derek Jeter

I know I'm a little behind on my HOF posts, and on my posts in general for this site.  Having said that, a few words about Derek Jeter, after his last game today at Fenway Park:

--Obvious HOF because of his lifetime stats, most obvious his 3,464 hits, 6th most all-time.

--Also top-10 all-time in ABs, PAs, Runs Scored and Singles.  Considering he batted 1st or 2nd the vast majority of the time, these are excellent things for him to be amongst the greatest of all-time.  Probably the greatest second-in-the-order hitter ever.

--Some surprises (all this is courtesy of

-12th all-time in Times-on-Base.  If you consider the all-time greats of Ted Williams (okay, shorter career), Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, etc., all those you'd think of as all-time super-stars, the fact that Jeter got on base via a hit, walk or HBP 12th amongst all these guys is very impressive.

-His Offensive Winning % is 45th-best, ever.  That includes everybody--pitchers and position players.  That's Clemens, Grove, Cy Young, Pete Rose, people better defensively than he was...everyone.  This is very high.

-His 1,909 Runs Created is 27th-best, all-time.  This is runs scored, runs batted in and everything in between.

-13th-most strikeouts ever.  I know he batted a ton of times, but this is still surprising to me.

-21st-most total bases, ever.  Again, considering all the big boys--Williams, Ruth, Gehrig, Aaron, Mays, Mantle, etc.--being 21st is very high.  Especially when you consider that those guys hit homers and Jeter hit singles and doubles.  That's a lot of singles and doubles to party with those guys in TBs.

-Player of the Week just 3 times--and Player of the Month just once!

-Never won MVP, though he did finish 2nd and 3rd a few times.  But, Pedroia excepted, American League MVPs usually go to the home run guys.

-5 Gold Gloves.  Granted, GGs are given just as much for offensive performance as it is for defensive excellence (though of course it shouldn't be that way), but, still, 5 Gold Gloves is a lot for a guy who's often ridiculed for his defense.

-Having said that, baseball-reference says he owes the Yanks 9.7 games over his career for his defense.

-But he's won them 95.3 games over his career due to his offense.  Divided by 17 or 18 full years, that's about 5 1/2 games a year, just him.  That's a lot.

-He's had 650 post-season ABs.  That's another full season.

-He had a .308 batting average and a .374 OBP during that "extra season."  Keep in mind, this is the playoffs, so this would be against the better pitching staffs in all of baseball.  The .374 OBP is more impressive than the .308 BA considering this.

-The same website has compared him to the HOF shortstops already enshrined, and had this to say:

JAWS Shortstop (12th), 71.7 career WAR/42.2 7yr-peak WAR/57.0 JAWS
Average HOF SS (out of 21) = 66.7 career WAR/42.8 7yr-peak WAR/54.7 JAWS

In other words, he's a little to quite-a-bit better than the average HOF shortstop.  In short, he's a HOFer.

The two things I'll remember most about Jeter:

1) The infamous 2004 game, weeks before Nomar got traded, in a game that Nomar refused to play, Jeter jumped into the stands to catch a foul ball--and got a bloody chin and cheek for it.  At Fenway.  Later in the game, Nomar refused to pinch-hit--for Cesar Crespo, if I'm not mistaken.  I know Salad will correct me if I am wrong about this.  :-)

The story goes that this so angered Red Sox brass that it was the last straw, and they were intent on trading Nomar after this.  In other words, if Jeter hadn't played all-out that game (as he admittedly did for all his games), then the Sox front office wouldn't have shopped Nomar--and the Sox don't win the 2004 World Series.

2.  In a 2001 playoff game against the A's, a throw gets away from the cut-off man and Jeremy Giambi (surely one of MLB's all-time bad baserunners) tries to score.  Jeter, who was roaming the infield, runs about 100 feet out of his shortstop position, grabs the ball that's trickling on the 1st-base line about 15 feet from home, and throws a shovel-pass to the catcher, Jorge Posada, who tags Giambi out.  (Giambi looks back in shock, though the real surprise is his refusal to slide, as he's tagged on his foot.)

This is ballgame with-it-ness that can't be taught.  Not too many guys have his head in the game so much to make that play.  (I played awhile, and I can honestly say that I would've watched with my mouth agape as the ball rolled away and the run scored.)  The Yanks win this playoff game 1-0, too.  Neither of these two plays show up in Jeter's defensive stats, and he was not a particularly gifted defensive shortstop like Alex Gonzalez or many others.  But Jeter has to be one of the headiest ballplayers of all-time, a player for whom the stats will not do total justice.  This says a lot, since he has Hall-of-Fame stats.

More than anything else, worthy of the Hall for his Hall-of-Fame consistency.  Offensively and defensively.  And for just the intangibles, which is usually a BS word, but not in his case.

And, finally, it's oversaid, but it's not wrong: Jeter's a guy who respected the game and the people in it.  He wouldn't have slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's hand, for example.  Or put pine tar on his wrist, and then on his neck, as did the pitcher who started and won Jeter's last game.  He played the game right, and he has the $600+ million dollars and--soon--the HOF plaque to prove it.

A great player--even if he never made an appearance in my last Fenway game of this season, this past Friday, the day after his You-can't-make-it-up last game at Yankee Stadium.  Still, a great player.

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