|OS Real Time|
|Mark Forums Read|
|Edit Your Details|
Gary Armida's Blog
Is Derek Jeter the Greatest Shortstop of All-Time?Posted on August 23, 2012 at 09:07 AM.
There may be no more polarizing name in Major League Baseball than Derek Jeter. The Yankeesí long-time shortstop been scrutinized over his career for many reasons. The obvious reason is that he plays for the New York Yankees, one of the most beloved and most hated franchises in sports. Anyone or anything having to do with the pinstripers elicits a strong response. Secondly, Jeter has received an inordinate amount of attention for the extra things that he does such as leadership, being a part of multiple championship teams, and his propensity to do well in the big moment.
Additionally, Jeter wasnít the prototypical power hitter during an era when home runs were the norm. His fame, stature, and praise just didnít fit quite the same as it did with the synthetic bashers of his time. As much as we say we disdained the steroids era, we do judge many players by their home run total.
Itís true that Jeter and hyperbole have gone hand in hand over the years. One of his nicknames is Captain Clutch. That drives most detractors mad for a couple of reasons. Heís had many opportunities as he has been fortunate being a member of a Yankees team that has made the playoffs in every Jeter season, except for 2008. Many will point that Jeter is ďmerelyĒ the same in the postseason as he is a career .307.374/.465 postseason hitter. That closely matches his career line of .313/.382/.449. If one defines clutch in terms of being able to perform the same no matter the situation, then Jeter is clutch.
But, Jeter is a victim of his own press. He has been called overrated for many years. Some have even stated that Jeter wouldnít even be known had he been drafted by the Astros or the Royals. Perhaps there wouldnít have been as many covershots, but that belief discredits one very simple thing.
Despite all of the hype and praise for his intangibles, Derek Jeter has put together a Hall of Fame career. And, it may even be the best career by a shortstop in the history of baseball.
Thatís the answer to the question of who is the best shortstop of all-time? Wagner compiled one of the greatest careers in the history of baseball. In 21 seasons, Wagner hit .328/.391/.467 with 643 doubles, 252 triples, 101 home runs, 1,733 RBI, 1,739 runs scored, and 723 stolen bases. Those statistics are staggering and clearly separate the great from everyone else.
After that, however, the debate begins.
Jeter has played 2,502 games as a shortstop. Only three other players have manned the position more than Jeter. Jeter will pass Ozzie Smith this season. He will pass Luis Aparacio early next season. And, if Jeter does play full-time in 2013 and 2014, he will pass Omar Vizquel for the most games as a shortstop. While Jeter shouldnít get bonus points for remaining a shortstop, the fact is that he has played more games at the position than most players associated with being great shortstops.
Cal Ripken played 2,502 games at short. Luke Appling manned the position for 2,218 games, while Rabbit Maranville was out there for 2,153 games. In fact, only 18 players in Major League Baseball history have played over 2,000 games as a shortstop. Most have wound up playing other positions.
The great Honus Wagner played 1,887 games as shortstop. He played the other 900-plus games at either third base, first base, second base, and outfield. Ernie Banks, associated as a great shortstop, played just 1,125 games as a shortstop. He actually played more games as a first baseman during his career. Even Wagnerís longevity at the position is incredible as only 40 players have played over 1,700 games as a shortstop.
Now, Jeterís detractors will point to his defensive metrics as a point of criticism. Itís true, the defensive metrics are not kind to Jeter. UZR isnít kind except for one season--2009. Defensive runs saved also ranked him in the positive in that lone 2009 season. While Jeter doesnít have the range of the great defensive shortstops, he is sure-handed. There is value in that. But, there is no arguing that his range deficiencies are very real.
But, would the Yankees, a team with the most resources in the sport, simply keep Jeter at shortstop if his overall game didnít outweigh his defensive issues?
And, with the exception of Luis Aparacio and Ozzie Smith, most Hall of Famers make the Hall based on offense. As an offensive shortstop, Jeter is virtually peerless.
Jeterís 3,257 hits rank him 12th all-time. He will pass Willie Mays before this season is over. With the exception of Pete Rose, Jeter is the lone non-Hall of Famer who is in the top-20 hit leaders of all-time. His .313 batting average is the fourth highest amongst players who played at least 400 games at shortstop. His .382 on base percentage is 12th best amongst shortstops under that same criteria. His .449 slugging percentage ranks 13th under that criteria. His 519 doubles is fourth most. His 1,847 runs scored is second most. His 77.2 WAR ranks seventh under that criteria.
Now, factor in that his rankings are much higher when weeding out players who played more games at another position and Jeter becomes one of the handful of legitimately great offensive shortstops in the game.
Derek Jeter has received praise because of how he has conducted himself on the field. That praise has often turned into hyperbole. But, that hyperbole has masked the reality of him compiling one of the greatest careers a shortstop has ever compiled. That isnít about rings. That isnít about clutch moments. That isnít about press coverage. It is strictly about his statistics.
Derek Jeter has averaged .314/.382/.449 with 30 doubles, 4 triples, 15 home runs, 108 runs scored, 72 RBI, and 20 stolen bases as a full-time shortstop for over 17 years. No other player shortstop has come close to matching that. Other greats have moved to other positions and compiled statistics. Jeter hasnít moved. The Yankees still donít feel that he is a liability given his offensive skill set.
One can easily rank Honus Wagner over Jeter. Thatís fine. But, after that, Jeter has a stronger case than most of the other Hall of Famers based on consistent excellence demonstrated over 17 seasons while playing the same position.
And, even if some rank other ahead of him, the point is that Derek Jeter is in the conversation as being the greatest shortstop of all-time. Being in the conversation is the sign of greatness. The rest is up for debate. Thatís the beauty of baseball.
The only thing overrated about Derek Jeter is the number of people saying he is overrated. The numbers donít lie. He has compiled one of the all-time great offensive careers as a shortstop. After acknowledging that, then his other great attributes can be discussed.
BORN: April 17, 1975 (38)
JOINED: Oct 26, 2003 (9 years, 209 days ago)
MEMBER # 13,930
JOINED: Oct 26, 2003 (9 years, 209 days ago)
MEMBER # 13,930
2,669 Forum Posts
0.76 Posts Per Day
147 Blog Entries
284 News/Blog Comments
2 Reader Score Votes
0 Chalkboard Messages
233,077 Arena Visits
Gary Armida's Blog Categories
More Gary Armida's Friends