Thursday, August 7, 2008

Jeter's down year, not down career

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News has a blog in addition to his daily byline. He used his space to chronicle Jeter's career. It seems that he was getting some heat that Jeter was over-rated and never really did much in his career. I know many of you (including buddy Joe's co-worker, Chris) believe all of that to be true. You like to diminish the things he does well and harp on the things he doesn't do well. To that, I laugh.

I also know that Jeter's having a down year. He's never been a HR hitter and I'm OK with that. He's a #2 hitter and he does what a #2 hitter is supposed to do: move runners, get on base, let the big guys drive in runs. And do things the right way. I know he's an easy target because of the team, position, dating history, good looks, etc.

I also know Jeter's range is bad. This isn't new and I've commented on it many, many times, even wondering how soon Jeter will be forced from SS. I just wonder how that transition will go, but we can table that for another day. Even Gammons noted Jeter's poor defensive ratings yesterday (emphasis mine).

One NL team's defensive statistics, scouting and ratings have John McDonald of the Blue Jays as the best defensive shortstop in the majors. No surprise. They have Boston's Jed Lowrie at No. 5 among the 62 ranked shortstops, even if his sample is small. Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes, who is still working out mechanical start issues, are in the 40s, among the 62 shortstops. Edgar Renteria and Jeff Keppinger are among the bottom 5.
Feinsand (and I) understand the criticisms lobbed at Jeter this year. I understand the criticisms lobbed on him every year (no real power, bad D, over-rated overall game). But Feinsand adds this:

The fact that fans have started to turn on Jeter makes me question if they are actually Yankees fans. I have no problem with people criticizing his performance this season, but to use that to question how good or valuable he’s been over the years is ridiculous. You don’t hit .315 over 12+ years and score more than 1400 runs by accident. Jeter will become the first Yankee ever to reach 3,000 hits, and he could very well get to 3,500 before it’s all said and done.

The bottom line is that Jeter is one of the greatest players of our generation, he’s one of the greatest Yankees of all-time and he’s going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’s also the face of the franchise, and seeing him finish his career anyplace else will be a disgrace.
Feinsand goes on to list many of Jeter's awards and details his hitting/run scoring prowess. I know nothing's going to make the Jeter bashers change their mind. But the "overrated" stuff is and always will be silly to me.

Since 1996, only one player – Alex Rodriguez – has scored more runs than Jeter. A-Rod has 1,552 runs scored to Jeter’s 1,437, and when you consider that Rodriguez has hit 336 more homers than Jeter in that time – scoring a run on each of those homers, obviously – it makes Jeter’s run total even more impressive.

Jeter’s 2,463 hits since 1996 are the most of any player in the majors, 150 more than A-Rod, who is second. And while Jeter doesn’t hit a ton of home runs (201), his 405 doubles are 13th, making him much more than a singles hitter.

He has won Rookie of the Year, All-Star MVP, World Series MVP, the Hank Aaron Award (for being the league’s best overall hitter), three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. You could also make a case that he should have won the AL MVP award in 2006, which he narrowly lost to Justin Morneau.

10 comments:

tadthebad said...

You know, Jason, I have to laugh at this. Jeter is great, no question. But to consider his runs totals "all the more impressive" because he doesn't hit many homeruns? I'm not sure I agree. Couldn't one interpret that as luck due to the batters hitting behind Jeter? I suppose I'd have to acknowledge he gets on base a lot if I'm going to raise that argument.

However, what I really laugh at is the thought that if Jeter doesn't finish his career with the Yanks it will be a disgrace. Ha! That's EXACTLY what I hope the Yanks front office thinks. Hear me, Brian? Sign Jeter to HA-YUGE dollars for 8 more years at least! Silly, sentimental Yankees.

Jason said...

Tad,

I can't disagree with the last point. The Yanks ARE overly sentimental. They overpaid Mo, Posada, etc. Maybe they give Giambi another year. Moose, too. They will surely overpay Jeter during his last few years.

It's not at all dissimilar to this Favre debacle.

At some point, Jeter will need to move from SS (I know you and others might say that day has already passed, but hear me out...). What if he doesn't want to move, performance be damned? Will some GM, if not Cashman, have the fortitude to trade The Face?

I'd be bummed to see Jeter go somewhere, but it won't tarnish my memories of his heyday.

As far as the runs scored thing, well, you gotta get on and get into position to score. True, if he were on the Dodgers he might not have as many good hitters hitting behind him to drive him in, but you first have to get on and get into scoring position. He has done that pretty well over his career. Hard to argue that, no?

Jason said...

***trade or not re-sign***

tadthebad said...

Of course it's hard to argue, I brought that point up myself! And yours is the proper perspective I think...it certainly has been my perspective with regard to Pedro, Damon and now Manny: "Thanks for the great play and the Championship(s). Good luck at your next stop (except for Damon)." And I have to say, it's hard to envision Jeter being so stubborn as to not relinquish SS. Just doesn't seem to fit him.

In Joba, are we seeing the same pre-surgery "rotator cuff tendonitis" that Posada had?

Jason said...

Tad,

Regarding Joba, we can only hope not. Posada was suffering for a while and it seems Joba's injury was a heckuvalot more sudden.

But I don't know. Rotator cuff injuries scare me. Tommy John Surgery seems a lot more "attractive", if that's a possible adjective, assuming there is a serious injury there.

It might be nothing.

I could Jeter being magnanamous with a position change IF there's a suitable replacement. There are one or two kids on the farm that are supposedly pretty good. Good enough to displace Jeter? Ya got me.

Aren't I all full of answers today?

Osmodious said...

Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows...in games, seasons and careers. Jeter happens to be having an 'ebb' year this year, so far. However, to say that he hasn't been an outstanding player over his whole career is beyond absurd.

Let me start off by saying that when I got back into baseball in the mid-90's, I *hated* Jeter. Didn't know much about him, but I was just starting to pay attention to the game and I was already sick of hearing about him. What can I say, I don't like things that are hyped. After a season or so of watching him every day, I started to think that this kid could be one of the best to ever play. Why? Because he is very, very smart, and he KNOWS THIS GAME. Watch his eyes when he's on base, he's constantly measuring. He knows where everyone is, what they are doing, what is coming next and how to prepare for it. He is an analyst. It's how he can make plays like 'The Flip' (watching the hit, knowing how Spencer overthrows the cut-off guy, seeing that no one will be in the area, guaging how fast Giambi was running, etc.).

Yes, that goes into the whole 'intangibles' column, along with his work ethic and playing ethic (the guy is a winner, period...why? because he plays 100% on every single play...'fortune favors the prepared'). But there are a lot of things that can probably be measured or explained in stats, if not common ones. I know from watching every game that he is always thinking 'big picture', and that he will sacrifice stats to advance the teams chances to win. I bet he is one of the best in productive outs...moving runners over or scoring them. Why? Because he'll hit behind the runners and sacrifice his hit to advance them.

Eh, I could go on...but it's not going to convince the naysayers anyway. The bottom line is this: the guy is a winner, even when he is 'underperforming', he does things to help the team win, if only by playing his heart out. His stats are very good, but his play is even better (as with many of the greats). I know that when I'm old and grey that I'll be proudly telling my grandkids that I got to watch him play the game...

tadthebad said...

Osmod, that's why I don't see him making a big stink when the time comes (came?) for him to move from SS...he wants to win, period. It's not original to say this, but he and Tom Brady are very alike in how they approach their games.

"Fortune favors the prepared?" I prefer, "Luck is the residue of design."

Anonymous said...

Wait a sec, Jeter playing for a team other than the yankees would be a disgrace? How many players/teams have the yankees disgraced by stealing other teams home grown players in free agency by offering contracts that mid/small market teams have no ability to match?

Jeter scores more runs because he gets on base for a team with a frigging 200 million dollar payroll filled with big money free agent hitters. Anyone could score a lot of runs in front of those kind of hitters.

If it was up to me the other 29 teams would just forfeit the season and let the yankees have the title for 200 million dollars. The only thing that gives the other 29 teams any chance at all is that the yankees are incompetent with their money.

Dont you feel the least bit ashamed that your team has a payroll like 20 times larger than the Rays who are beating the snot out of you?

It really is funny to watch yankee fans get excited when they win, its like watching Jordan celebrate cause he dunked on a 5 year old with down syndrome. When your playing with that much of an advantage how can it even be fun anymore?

Jason said...

Anon:

I'm happy all sides get to comment, which is why I don't "moderate" the comments here.

But it was the author, Feinsand, who claims it would be a disgrace, not me.

The financial inequities in baseball have been around as long as the teams have been paying for players to play. It's no different now. Is it right? Wrong?

As for the financial advantage, the Rays and whatnot, baseball's a funny game. Things get evened out. The Rays finish last for a decade and finally all the years of drafting first pays off as their #1 draft picks develop. Great for them. It's good to see that other teams can now afford to resign their stud pitching, mostly on the Yanks dime due to revenue sharing and luxe tax payments.

Hate the Yanks all you wish, but they are the financial engine that still moves the game forward.

Lastly, as for rooting, should I give up on the team that I grew up watching (before I knew anything about salaries) just because they overpay? I'm not a bandwagon fan. I've been here forever, will be until they throw the dirt on top of me. Just the way it is.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge Jeter fan but his defense has looked particularly slow this season. I can't think that it will improve, will only get worse. I think we should move Jeter to 3B and ARod to 1B. Then can look for a younger SS in the Hanley Ramirez mold.