Mar
30

Fielding Bible: Jeter’s defense revisited

By

A few weeks ago the folks at ACTA Sports were kind enough to send along a copy of The Fielding Bible Volume II, John Dewan’s study on defensive metrics. Instead of reviewing the entire 400-page tome in one shot, I thought I’d address a number of issues throughout the week. We’ll start off with a topic which has been beaten into the ground over the past few years: Derek Jeter‘s defense. As it turns out, his Gold Gloves might be justified.

This isn’t to say that Jeter’s range is any better than we’ve come to understand. He still has trouble ranging to his left, and that’s probably not going to improve. Yet he’s not a complete black hole out there. As it turns out, Jeter ranked best in the majors last year in Defensive Misplays, a visual metric developed by Bill James which attempts to succeed where errors fail in determining poor defensive plays. Says James:

A defensive misplay is a very specific observation of a very narrowly defined event, created in such a way as to keep the scorer’s use of judgment to an absolute minimum.

An error is based on what “ought” to happen in the mind of an official scorer. A-Rod should have fielded that cleanly; Robinson Cano should have made a better throw to first. James attempts to strip the subjective observation of the scorer and create a defined set of circumstances which will determine a defensive misplay. There are 54 different types of defensive misplays. Here’s his example:

Failing to anticipate the wall — Outfielder goes to the outfield wall, allowing a ball to bounce over his head back toward the infield, allowing a runner or runners to take bases which they might not have been able to take had the fielder turned and played the ball off the wall.

The scorer has to ask himself only two questions:

1) Did the outfielder go to the wall in an effort to catch the ball, and
2) Did the ball bounce over his head back toward the infield?

The scorer does not ask himself “Did the fielder have a real chance to catch the ball?” or “Should the fielder have chased the ball to the wall in that situation? or “Should an ordinary fielder have known that he could not catch the ball at the wall?” or anything like that. It’s two simple questions: Did he chase the ball to the wall, and did the ball bounce over his head back toward the infield?

While James attempts to separate subjective judgment from objective observation, he’s not always successful in The Fielding Bible. I’ll agree with Mitchel Lichtman’s critique: “However, as you read more about his Defensive Misplays (DM’s), it becomes clear that many of them are very subjective, or at least not as objective as he claims DM’s are in general.” Still, it tries to add more context to the idea of an error, beyond the official scorer determining that a player messed up.

(Oh, and you’ll never guess who led the league in the above-cited defensive misplay. Yes, it was Bobby Abreu, in a tie with — wait for it — Nate McLouth.)

Jeter’s strength, according to James’s system, is his ability to cleanly field balls he reaches. He led all shortstops last year with just 17 defensive misplays in 1,259 innings at short. Even when you count errors — which James claims were not counted in Defensive Misplays, so there’s no doubling up — Jeter comes out as the best shortstop in the majors.

This puts Jeter’s Gold Gloves in a bit better context. After all, it’s easier to see plays that were made than those that weren’t. It might not be easy for an observer to see all the balls Jeter doesn’t get to. Routine grounder through the hole for a single, one might think. That’s an easy observation to make, since it’s difficult to determine whether Jeter should have gotten to the ball or, even more difficultly, if one of Jeter’s peers would have cleanly fielded the grounder. Because he’s so good on the balls he does get to, that’s translated into playing good defense, hence the Gold Gloves.

When it comes to range, we know that Jeter doesn’t get much respect. If you check out his UZR you’ll see that since 2003 he’s ranged from slightly below average to freaking atrocious (namely 2005 and 2007). Last year he was just below average by that metric. Since this is a Fielding Bible review, we’ll also look at Dewan’s plus/minus system. That one’s a bit harsher on Jeter, rating him a -9 (-8 for fielding, -1 for his double play turning). That puts him fourth lowest among qualifying shortstops, besting only Yuniesky Betancourt (another guy who reputedly plays good D), Jeff Keppinger, and David Eckstein. During the three years from 2006 through 2008, Jeter ranks dead last at -50 — and it’s not even close.

The difference between the two systems is something we should certainly explore further. While Dewan had Jeter in the cellar in terms of defensive range, UZR was a bit kinder in 2008, ranking him 11th in the majors, ahead of Jose Reyes. More notably, UZR has Jeter ahead of Christian Guzman, who ranked fifth in Dewan’s plus/minus system. Clearly, there are flaws in defensive metrics. Geoff Baker, beat writer for The Seattle Times, has a comprehensive and intelligent look at defensive metrics. I highly recommend the read.

Does Jeter’s ability to avoid misplays compensate for his lack of range? It’s tough to say, especially when we’re working with inherently flawed statistics. I will agree with Steve Lombardi’s conclusion: “In a nutshell, it’s his ability to avoid “Defensive Misplays” that has enabled Derek Jeter to win Gold Glove awards in the past. And, it’s probably the same reason why the Yankees haven’t moved him off shortstop yet.” That and ego, of course.

We’ll close this out with a scouting take on Jeter, also from The Fielding Bible, just to even out all this statistical talk:

Then there is the signature Jeter play, when he fields a backhander in the hole and makes his patented jump-throw. Jeter still excels at this play, but it disguises the fact that he does it because he lacks the arm strength to plant his feet and throw. His arm also causes him to play more shallow than other shortstops, cutting down on his range.

The last comment about playing shallow makes plenty of sense. Certainly, playing shallow would make it tough for Jeter to get to those up the middle balls. Regarding the first observation about the jump-throw, it might sound intuitively incorrect. You can’t make as strong a throw while you’re in the air, right? No, you can’t, but you can also get rid of it quicker. What Dewan means here is that Jeter needs to do the jump-throw, because it would take him additional time to stop, plant, and make a strong throw. Because his arm isn’t as strong, he needs a quick release. It’s along the lines of Johnny Damon‘s arm not costing the Yanks any runs — a topic we’ll visit later in the week.

You can get The Fielding Bible–Volume II from Amazon.com for $16.29. That’s our Amazon Associate code, so if you buy the book from that link you’ll kick us a few pennies.

Categories : Defense
  • A.D.

    So basically Jeter goes under the category of a “sure-handed” SS

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      He wins the “Cal Ripken Jr. Award”

      • http://dylankidd@earthlink.net dkidd

        the “larry bowa award”

    • http://www.bronxbaseballdaily.com Bronx Baseball Daily

      I read this a little while back and thought it made sense why he won the awards. He never looks bad fielding the ball. Sure maybe he doesn’t get to as many as other players, but the ones he gets to he’s better at handling than other players. His fielding looks good. Coaches voted for him. Makes sense.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        “His fielding looks good. Coaches voted for him. Makes sense.”

        You’re right.

        And this is more evidence as to why Gold Gloves (and virtually all MLB awards) are like the Grammys: meaningless.

        • andrew

          I didn’t want to be the one to do it, but what the heck…

          HTML FAIL

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Yeah, I suck.

  • steve (different one)

    isn’t this basically what we already knew? that Jeter usually makes the plays he gets to, but doesn’t get to as many as other SS’s?

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      I guess “seeing with your own eyes” isn’t such a stupid saying after all.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        No, it is.

        • Darth Stein

          Seeing things with your eyes is overrated. Sometimes I see things with my mind, like Jeter making a play to his left. Then my damn eyes kick in and rain on my parade.

          • Drew

            That my friend, is a hallucenation.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    “(Oh, and you’ll never guess who led the league in the above-cited defensive misplay. Yes, it was Bobby Abreu, in a tie with — wait for it — Nate McLouth.)”

    Too late, I had already guessed that the moment you started explaining the “Failing to anticipate the wall” DM.

    • http://dylankidd@earthlink.net dkidd

      remember that awesome fox show “hole in the wall”? abreu and mcclouth should compete

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        remember that awesome fox show “hole in the wall”? abreu and mcclouth should compete.

        Fixed. And yes, they should. I’d watch that.

        • http://dylankidd@earthlink.net dkidd

          a giant wall with shapes cut out of it rushes towards people who need to twist their bodies into those very shapes or get pushed into water. is that not the very definition of “awesome”?

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Sorry, no. I love slapstick humor, but that show bored the pants off of me.

            If you gave me a day off from work to think about it, I could probably list 1,000 things more “awesome” than all the shows on Fox not named “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons”.

            To each his own, I guess.

            • andrew

              I don’t mind 24 either, but it has become increasingly ludicrous (not that it ever wasn’t, but I’m probably just noticing it more now) and has lost some of its luster for me.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                Ugh. I thought it was ludicrous from second #1.

                Watching 24 is like torture. Pun intended.

            • http://dylankidd@earthlink.net dkidd

              i confess i never actually watched it. just enjoyed the ads.

              family guy hasn’t been the same for me since the south park send up

  • steve (different one)

    sorry to digress, but this is too funny…

    for some unknown reason, Hughes isn’t making his scheduled start today.

    from that nugget of information, the comment section of LoHud has determined that he and AJax have been traded for Roy Halladay.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      OMG WTF SHOULDA TRADED HUGHES AND AJAX FOR PEAVEY NOT ROY HOLLIDAY CASHMAN YOU TEH SUXOR!!!!!!

      • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

        IETC.

        • steve (different one)

          seriously, you have to read it.

          • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

            Wait, I didn’t?

            • steve (different one)

              no, i meant you if you enjoyed TSJC’s parody of a comment, you have to read the actual thread at LoHud.

              which wasn’t even remotely clear by my post, sorry.

              • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

                No problem. I pretty much enjoy every comment that contains the words: “CASHMAN YOT THE SUX0R!!!1!11!!!”

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Why don’t you just excerpt some of the choicer nuggets?

            I make it a personal policy point to never read the LoHud comments. I don’t have a machete big enough to cut through that anti-intellectual thicket.

            (And, I’ve got a pretty big machete, if you know what I mean.)

            • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

              That’s a pretty good policy. It would be great if most of the LoHud commenters would have a policy of not posting in the first place.

            • Jack

              Oh, I know exactly what you mean, if you know what I mean.

  • Tony

    Wait… so you mean Jeter WON’T be using a wheelchair at short this year? That’s the impression I’ve gotten from Yankeeland due to two groundballs in the WBC.

    • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

      No, it means that you completely missed the point of the post.

      • Tony

        I’m pretty sure the point is that Jeter isn’t as horrifically bad as some have suddenly imagined him to be over the past 3 weeks. I haven’t seen knees jerk this hard since since we went into Iraq.

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          Most people who post here are Yankees fans. We want what’s best for the team. We’d all LOVE for Jeter to be the best fielding SS in the game. But there are a large majority of realists who visit this site. We have all noticed Jeter’s lack of range. I don’t think this is a 3 week trend for most of us. And though I’m glad Jeter can catch the balls he can get to, I would agree with Tommie that having great range and mediocre handling abilities is superior to bad range and great handling abilites.

  • Rich

    There is another aspect that relates to whether or not Jeter should continue to remain at SS, despite his often suboptimal range up the middle. That is, does diving for balls (albeit often in vain) take a toll on Jeter’s stamina, which in turn negatively impacts his offense?

    Perhaps a move to the OF would not only improve the Yankees’ defense up the middle (assuming a better option at SS can be found), but maybe it would also enhance Jeter’s effectiveness by enabling to remain physically stronger, which could up his SLG.

    • steve (different one)

      wear and tear. it’s a valid point.

    • Darth Stein

      I cannot remember Jeter “diving for balls”. I thought that was part of the complaint against Jeter was that he does not dive.

      But seriously, isn’t it Swisher who reportedly dives for balls?

      • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

        You will hear the words “Groundball up the middle … past the diving Jeter” often enough this season to re-think this comment.

        • Darth Stein

          Ya, I hear that but on TV I mostly see the stumbling Jeter with outstretched glove. To put it another way, on an 0 for 4 night there is no dirt on that uniform.

          • andrew

            The stumbling Jeter with outstretched glove on grounder up the middle is a classic image I have imprinted in my mind, up there with the classic Jeter stick your butt out really far on a called 3rd strike on the inside corner.

            • jsbrendog

              ietc because it is true

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        But seriously, isn’t it Swisher who reportedly dives for balls?

        ICWUDT

  • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt
    • jsbrendog

      well played sir. you win the invisible completely nonexistent internet award.

      but seriously, throw them i told you so’s around

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    While this is an interesting perspective on defense, I’d venture to say that, for both infielders and outfielders, the ability to avoid Defensive Misplays is probably worth about 40% and some sort of range measurement, like UZR, is worth about 60%.

    A guy like Jose Reyes, who may not field every ball as cleanly as Jeter but who can get to far more balls than Jeter gets to is probably better, all things considered. Without doing any analysis, I’d say a player with an elite UZR and a pedestrian DM rate will likely prevent more runs than a player with an elite DM rate and a pedestrian UZR.

    JMHO.

  • Jay

    Like Mark Twain says, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Anybody who says that Jeter plays Gold Glove defense is either legally blind, blinded because of their man love for Jeter, believing Jeter’s ridiculously favorable press coverage, or being a Yankee homer, or they’re someone (like James) who delights in Yankee stupidity and does everything he can to encourage it.

    If Jeter plays Gold Glove defense, I hit a baseball like Albert Pujols and slam dunk a basketball like Lebron James. That’s patently absurd. And the fact that a blogger on this site can suggest it only further detracts from the already tarnished credibility of this website.

    Jeter’s consistently erratic throws to first base ALONE keep him from being considered an AVERAGE shortstop. His pathetic range up the middle turns him into a huge defensive liability. Might I suggest you find bloggers who haven’t completely lost touch with reality or focus on parody or fiction.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Point of this article is, Jeter DOES play “Gold Glove” defense.

      Playing “Gold Glove” defense means you don’t commit errors or Defensive Misplays. Jeter doesn’t do those things. That is “Gold Glove” defense.

      Your point (in a roundabout way) which I agree with is that “Gold Glove” defense does not equal “good” defense. On that topic, you are right.

      But there is merit in pointing out that “good” defense is comprised of two parts: having good range to get to balls to be able to make plays on them AND having the “Gold Glove” ability to make those subsequent plays on those balls cleanly and effectively. While the former is probably more important than the latter, Jeter does at least do one of those two things well, which means that neither extreme of hyperbole (Jeter is horrible defensively or excellent defensively) is accurate.

      He’s probably somewhere right in the middle, slightly below average.

      [/nitpick]

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      How exactly has our credibility been “tarnished”? That’s a fairly absurd statement to make as though everyone has a clue what you’re talking about.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Wait, it was “already tarnished.”

        “And the fact that a blogger on this site can suggest it only further detracts from the already tarnished credibility of this website.”

        Ben, don’t you remember that one time where you said that one thing that that one guy disagreed with, and you were probably wrong for that one reason I can’t remember just now?

        Ever since then, your credibility has been utterly shot and your reputation is immutably tarnished. You’re like a cross between O.J. Simpson, Kim Jong Il, and Jon Lovitz’s “Yeah, that’s the ticket” guy from SNL. Nothing you say has any shred of truth or common human decency in it at all. All you’re doing is digging yourself deeper in the hole. Do us all a favor and shoot yourself in the head before you embarrass all of us any further.

  • http://deleted Jay

    Wait. Is this thread suggesting that Jeter may actually play Gold Glove defense an early April Fool’s Joke?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Reading comprehension will take you places, Jay.

      • http://deleted Jay

        I’m sorry, Joe. I shouldn’t have been so negative in my post.

        It’s just that between his horrendous range to his left and his incredibly inaccurate arm that leads not only to errors and lost outs that aren’t called errors and injuries to first basemen from unnecessary collisions, etc., Jeter gets credit for being a great captain when he can’t even put aside his rivalry/personal animus for A-Rod to make him feel welcome or shelter him somewhat from the press the way he does everyone else, much less offer to change positions for the good of the team while he hypocritically claims to put winning first and gets a free pass from you and most of the press.

        Again, I think the notion that Jeter’s Gold Gloves might be justified is patently absurd to even the most casual observer. But it was inappropriate of me to criticize you personally. And I hereby apologize for it..

        I think I was also aggravated because one of my posts on this website critical of Jeter or Posada’s defense which was not inappropriate in any way magically “disappeared” And between what struck me as the absurdity of you guys thinking they were good defensively and my post “disappearing”, I not only lost a lot of respect for you guys, but I got a little peeved. (And I was doubly surprised and disappointed – because I had been a fan of this website given that I thought you’d had some excellent posts on some Yankee prospects. But those are just reasons for my bad manners, Joe, not excuses. So mea culpa.

    • Jack
  • Lanny

    So the first of 15 posts this week focusing on Jeters defense. Yawn.

  • Januz

    I am tired of the Jeter negativity. Like this quote by Andrew: The stumbling Jeter with outstretched glove on grounder up the middle is a classic image I have imprinted in my mind, up there with the classic Jeter stick your butt out really far on a called 3rd strike on the inside corner. I wonder if he remembers Jeter diving into the stands against Boston, with no thoughts about injury?
    This guy is the best infielder to put on Pinstripes since Gehrig, and everyone looks to take a shot at him (If this blog was around in the late 60s, I could only imagine the shots that would be taken at a one legged Mantle, in his final years on bad Yankee teams?). The probability is that unless Angelini or Lassiter turn out to be Hall Of Fame types, the day he walks out of the clubhouse, everyone will be very sorry.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      I am tired of the Jeter negativity.

      It’s not negativity, it’s called objectivity.

      I wonder if he remembers Jeter diving into the stands against Boston, with no thoughts about injury?

      Literally everyone remembers that. It’s one of the most popular plays of the last ten years. The mainstream media harps on it all the time.

      This guy is the best infielder to put on Pinstripes since Gehrig, and everyone looks to take a shot at him

      This needs a huge qualification. Jeter is probably the best offensive infielder they’ve had since the Iron Horse, but Jeter’s defense has hurt the Yankees–this needs to be taken into consideration.

      If this blog was around in the late 60s, I could only imagine the shots that would be taken at a one legged Mantle, in his final years on bad Yankee teams?)

      Don’t even compare Jeter and Mantle. Even in his two worst seasons–’67 and ’68–Mantle posted OPS+ tallies of 150 and 142.

      The probability is that unless Angelini or Lassiter turn out to be Hall Of Fame types, the day he walks out of the clubhouse, everyone will be very sorry.

      Yes, I’ll be very sad when Derek Jeter retires. He’s been one of my favorite baseball players since I started watching the sport in 1995. That doesn’t mean that I’m unable to separate my love for a player and objective analysis. It will be a very sad day when he retires, but it will also be a very good day for the Yankees when he moves off of shortstop.

      • Tony

        “Objective analysis” would lead you to the conclusion that there’s a 0.00001% chance of his replacement being anywhere near as good as him. I don’t know who Jeter is being compared to by the people that come on here to bash him every day, but this hypothetical replacement isn’t in their system or likely to be on the FA market any time soon.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

          You’re definitely right–it’ll be hard to replace Jeter at the plate because he’s one of the best offensive shortstops to ever play baseball. But you can’t overlook the damage done by keeping him at short. I appreciate Derek Jeter as much as the next guy, but his defense is still lousy. The chances that the next guy to play SS for the Yankees can hit as good as Jeter are pretty slim (unless his name is Hanley Ramirez, which I don’t think is happening) but he’ll also more than likely be a better fielder than Jeter, which I will welcome.

          • Tony

            And the net loss will be huge.

            This is where I remind you all that, objectively, Jeter was still top 5-6 in the league in his OMFGRETIRE season last year. Wouldn’t know it from the commenters on RAB, but it’s true.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      I don’t understand how you can construe this post as negative. It’s a review of defensive stats/abilities using a prominent Yankee as an example. It happened to be the first thing I thought when I read this section of The Fielding Bible.

      It greatly disappoints me that some fans can’t stand an honest look at the players and team. We all love Jeter. He’s been an enormous component of the franchise since 96. That doesn’t mean that he’s infallible.

    • andrew

      I love Jeter just as much as any other Yankee fan, but I’m willing to acknowledge his shortcomings, and able to point fun at some of his “classic” mistakes. Jumping into the stands with no regard for injury does not make him a great ball player, it makes him “gritty” and “gutsy” and all the terms we throw around on here for fun, so I’m not sure if that really helped your analysis at all.

  • Jimmy

    Joe,
    For the sake of comparison, I would like to know how many misplays other SS were credited for. Were Jeter’s 17 misplays significantly better than the average SS (average in this particular analysis)? Who had the most misplays at SS and how many? I think it is important to know these things to get a true sense to how valuable this stat is. While Jeter’s range, or complete lack of, to his left is obvious to everyone, his sure-handedness hasn’t got enough credit in the debate over his overall defensive ability.

    Also, the notion that it is a lack of arm strength that causes Jeter to do the “jump-throw” is utterly ridiculous. If anything, it is his higher center of gravity (being a taller shortstop) and his lack of quick feet that does not allow him to plant and throw. He occasionally battles wildness on his throws, but does anyone really think he doesn’t have a strong arm? I don’t think I have ever see a play not made on his part and thought “oh if only he had a stronger arm” — and the throws that he does make (the jump throw, the twirl and throw up the middle, and the charging scoop and throw) all require a higher degree of arm strength and are all made necessary due to his lack of quickness and range. Anybody that has seen Jeter warm up with long toss before the game knows that he has plenty of strength in his arm.

    For the record, the “jump-throw” annoys me like crazy because other SS would be quick enough to plant and throw.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      I was emailing with another Yanks blogger the other day saying that I wished James supplied full leader boards. It certainly would provide better context.

  • Bonos

    Fact – Jeter plays a shallow SS. Almost all of his throws are flips in motion. If he had a strong arm he could play deeper, have more range, plant and throw. He has adapted to his skill set, more credit to him. He uses what he has.

  • Januz

    I have always considered myself reasonable and objective. One thing I really do not like is the way that people use statistics as the final judge of a player’s worth. Jeter’s worth to the Yankees cannot be defined in fielding range and on base percentage. The greats are the ones who rise to the occasion in the big spot (That is what separated Reggie Jackson from Dave Winfield), that is Derek Jeter. As for his future, if he cannot justify his contract, I honestly do not think that Jeter will be here in 2011, because there are people like Brian Cashman and Randy Levine who will not be swayed by sentiment alone, and to be honest it should not.
    What is important is not the future, but 2009, and this team will win or lose with their starting rotation (Which may be the best in baseball since Maddox, Smoltz, & Glavine), not Jeter’s range or lack of it. I hope people can get excited over Teixeira, CC, AJ & the New Park instead of being so negative towards Derek Jeter.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      I hope people can get excited over Teixeira, CC, AJ & the New Park instead of being so negative towards Derek Jeter.

      I fail to see the connection here. Just because people are able to speak negatively about Derek Jeter’s defense doesn’t mean they’re not excited to see the new stadium or have new players here.

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  • JR

    Given that baseball is a game of producing or preventing runs, isn’t it easy to say Jeter is the best shortstop? There is a cumulative production. You produce. You prevent. Add those two things up and you have an overall impact on runs. Jeter clearly is on base A LOT more than the shortstops that are “better” defensively (and don’t talk about 3 or 4 seasons…he’s been doing this 14 seasons year in year out. Only 4 players in the history of the game have more 200 hit seasons than Jeter. It’s not possible for the defenders better than Jeter to prevent more runs than Jeter produces. It’s clear he is a good defensive shortstop. He’s tall and what is never mentioned is all the high liners he snags that smaller shortstops can never make. Defense is relative given the gap between good and great fielder. Hitting is not relative. This all adds up to having Jeter be the best all around shortstop…ever. A-Rod we now know was jacked on roids for his best seasons as was Tejada and Nomar (remember Nomar’s buffed SI cover shot?). The only people who can’t give Jeter his due are those that have irrational jealously/hatred of him. Take out his one injury season and Jeter has averaged 195 hits a season. Guess how many players have done that their first 13 seasons? One. Pete Rose.

  • mpl

    “Then there is the signature Jeter play, when he fields a backhander in the hole and makes his patented jump-throw. Jeter still excels at this play, but it disguises the fact that he does it because he lacks the arm strength to plant his feet and throw. His arm also causes him to play more shallow than other shortstops, cutting down on his range.”

    In response to this. Utter nonsense. Apparently Dewan should stick to his slide rule. Try running to your right then jumping and throwing an accurate and strong 150+ ft.throw in the opposite direction then come back. Others don’t do this because they can’t. It is both faster and more efficient. His shallow positioning has always bothered me. Although it makes him the best at the slow rollers it takes away from his range. To say it was because of arm strenght is idiotic. This year he has backed up. Along with improving his range I guess his arm strength got stronger at age 35…..

  • dqedi

    If Jeter’s across the body throw is do to lack of arm strength, please explain him planting himself and catching Punto off Third. He has made several great plays in the division series. Also, if A-Rod could learn to move to HIS left, Jeter wouldn’t need to cover to his right as much. Factor in that when Matsui was playing left field and Jeter was covering for him (and Damon now) I think he does a heck of a job at short. A-Rod played for teams that had below average player, so of course he looked good. Play him at SS with the Yankees and you’d see immediately that Jeter is better. (Can A-Rod cover to his right, just once? If DJ didn’t have to cover 3rd,too, he could play more to the left).

  • Buck Cameron

    Like they used to say about Ernie Banks, Jeeter reliably fields anything hit directly at him.