Derek Jeter for MVP


This is a guest post by Rebecca from This Purist Bleeds Pinstripes.

His .322 average leads all Yankees, and small sample size doesn’t apply — only one other player has amassed more plate appearances this season.

His .396 OBP is by far the highest among starters.

Okay, so the .456 slugging is comparatively low, and brings down his OPS, but Derek Jeter isn’t Derek Jeter because he hits for tremendous power.

Jeter’s 132 hits lead the Yankees, and only Robinson Canó, at 126, is anywhere close.

He’s stolen 19 bases and only been caught four times — the 19 are more than he stole in the entire years of 2007 and 2008.

We’ve been saying that 2009 has been a Jeterian Renaissance, but this is not just a Renaissance. This is the type of season that an MVP has, and in a league where no one’s doing anything Pujols-like, Jeter deserves some serious consideration.

It’s not just Jeter’s offensive numbers, either.

Jeter’s .984 fielding percentage is the best he’s had since 1998. 1998. There are three Yankees with a UZR that is positive — both center fielders and Jeter. Say what you want about UZR as a statistic, but the statistics bear it out: 2009 is one of Jeter’s best defensive seasons.

In a Major League career that started fifteen years ago, that says quite a bit.

Of course, there are the intangibles, too.

He’s batting a Cabrera-like (yes, I went there) .375/.435/.518/.953 in situations described as “Close and Late”, and his highest BA comes in games that have a difference of one run or less.

It’s kind of funny, right now, to think that at the beginning of the season we were, largely to a man, arguing that Jeter should bat lead-off to avoid grounding into so many double plays, as he seemed to do all of last year.

Some of us cast a wary eye towards 2010 — including 2009 Baseball Prospectus, which, in its write up argued that by the end of 2010 Jeter’s defense wouldn’t play in the infield and his bat wouldn’t play anywhere else.

I’m not quite sure anyone quite expected this.

By WAR, Jeter is the fifth best position player, and trails only Ben Zobrist (?!) in the American League in 2009.

The best part, of course, is that Jeter is doing all of this not just for a contending team, but for one that has one of the best records in all of baseball. Sure, the Angels have gone crazy again, but as of tonight, only the Dodgers have more wins than the Yankees.

So for all the muck about swinging at the first pitch, now would seem a good time to attempt to start to campaign for Jeter to get that MVP award….

Categories : Players


  1. Marc says:


  2. A.D. says:

    100% works for me

  3. Doug says:

    The biggest problem with Jeter’s candidacy is that the voters of the these awards like shiny numbers: high BAs and especially large HR and RBI totals. And these are the exact things Jeter lacks. Unfortunately, not sure 15 HRs and 65 RBIs is going to cut it.

    Think he needs 4 things to happen to have a shot:
    1. BA: .330+
    2. HR: 20+
    3. RBI: 70+
    4. Yanks finish in 1st

    • A.D. says:

      Basically if he tears it up to end the season, he’ll be in serious contention, if not they’ll probably look to someone else that helped their team squeak out the playoffs late.

    • zs190 says:

      Ichiro won the MVP with 8 HR and 69 RBI, so it’s possible to win without having the counting numbers. I think if Jetes wins the batting title somehow and we end up with best record, Jetes has a shot.

      • Doug says:

        He also batted .350 that year….a pretty impressive counting number

        But I do hear what you’re saying. And yes, winning the batting title would help enormously.

    • I don’t think he has a shot. Because the baseball writers have been writing countless stories about how A-Rod changed the whole team when he came back.

      They say that the Yankees were a .500 team without them and he put them over the top.

      I don’t agree, but that seems to be the storyline of the year.

  4. Ellis says:

    Pedroia’s 2008 MVP season:

    .326, 17 HR

  5. jjyank says:

    Consider me on the bandwagon, but I’m wary of Jete’s chances. Still though, I would love to see him get an MVP, and the clock is ticking.

  6. ledavidisrael says:

    AROD called it last year. I guess we are seeing the results of the jeters new regime now??

  7. monkeypants says:

    The problem is the MVP voting seems to follow popular wisdom, which at worst is simply wrong and at best lags behind more critical analysis. So finally, after years of Bill James and Rob Neyer complaining about Jeter’s defense, etc., the worm turned and voices have been much more critical of him the last couple of years. By the time anyone bothers to notice the season he is having this year it will be three years down the line.

  8. Jon W. says:

    Cap’n Jetes is having a great year, but there’s no way he deserves the MVP over Mauer.

  9. Jake H says:

    I would love to see Jeter win one. I do think he needs more RBI’s thou. I don’t see a really dominate player in the AL right now.

    • whozat says:

      He’s a leadoff hitter. He’s not going to get a lot more RBIs because he doesn’t see nearly as many guys on base as 3/4/5 hitters see.

      And it’s “dominant”

  10. Doug says:

    Agree with those on here saying that Mauer deserves the MVP, but if the Twins don’t make the playoffs, don’t think he’ll win it. Especially if the Yanks finish 1st and Jeter closes strong. The other thing working against Mauer is his own teammate at 1B…..remember those shiny numbers I talked about before.

    • It’s still moot.

      I love Jeter, he’s the MVP of the Yankees, but he’s not even top 5 in the AL.

      1.) Joe Mauer .431 wOBA, .355/.426/.592, great (but unquantified) defense
      2.) Kevin Youkilis .427 wOBA, .315/.425/.577, +4.2 at 1B, -2.5 at 3B
      3.) Ben Zobrist .421 wOBA, .298/.409/.573, +9.6 at 2B, -0.3 at SS, +4.9 in RF
      4.) Miguel Cabrera .404 wOBA, .334/.396/.554, +1.2 at 1B
      5.) Torii Hunter .403 wOBA, .334/.396/.554, -2.9 in CF


      Derek Jeter .380 wOBA, .322/.396/.454, +5.0 at SS

      He’s having a great, All-Star season. But there’s others who are having far better seasons. I haven’t even mentioned Morneau, Tex, or Bartlett. Jeter’s probably 9th.

      • Doug says:

        yeah, but tommie, you and i both know that the voters are idiots and don’t care of even know what the stats you posted even mean. they like BA, HR, and RBI. i actually can see this year’s voting ending up awfully similar to 2006 with morneau winning it and jeter/mauer trailing.

      • Moshe Mandel says:

        I totally disagree. Jeter is second in WAR, so I could make a similar list based on WAR and voila, Jeter is right there.Neither WAR or wOBA is the be all end all, but Jeter has a real shot.

      • Stryker says:

        why are you picking hunter and cabrera over morneau? morneau has a better WAR and wOBA than both of them and the difference between miggy and morneau in defense is very small.

  11. Phil says:

    Very surprised this post wasn’t about Jesus Montero.

  12. YankeeScribe says:

    Jeter’s my boy but there are two guys in Minnesota who are more deserving…

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      Huh? Which two? I think that if the Yanks hold off Tampa and Minny fades, Jeter should have a great shot. Remember, Mauer has been great, but he missed a month.

      • YankeeScribe says:

        Mauer and Morneau are having MVP-like seasons. If they keep it up, I don’t see Jeter winning over either of those two…

        • Moshe Mandel says:

          Mourneau is not having a better season than a number of other first basemen. He is not an MVP candidate in my book.

          • Doug says:

            but in the book of the voters, he will be. he won in 2006 with a very similar season.

          • Moshe. Morneau is leading the AL in homers and RBI with a .308/.391/588 line. Not only is he a candidate, he is probably the favorite at this point.

            As for YankeesScribe, Mauer is tough to vote for because he missed a month and he hasn’t led his team back to first place with his return. Right now, here’s my top 5:

            1. Morneau
            2. Jeter
            3. Mauer
            4. Teixeira
            5. Abreu

      • If the logic is “Guys in Minnesota shouldn’t win the MVP over Jeter because their team didn’t make the playoffs and Jeter’s did”, I have two responses for you.

        1) Boston, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Los Angeles need to also miss the playoffs for that to matter, because the Sox, Tigers, Rays, and Angels all have at least one player having a better season than the Yankees.


        • Moshe Mandel says:

          Tommie, I love you man, but that is just hyperbole. As usual, it depends on which metrics you use. If you go by WAR, Jeter is tied for second with Mauer, behind Zobrist. Jeter has a solid case, and I’m not sure why you are putting him behind 8-10 players.

          In regard to the winning team bit, I’m not saying it is the right way to weigh things, just that there are many voters who account for that.

          • In regard to the winning team bit, I’m not saying it is the right way to weigh things, just that there are many voters who account for that.

            So what you’re saying is not “I think Jeter deserves a shot at the MVP”, you’re saying “Voters are dumb and thus, Jeter will have a shot at the MVP”?

            Is that right?

            As of today, how would your ballot look if you had one?

            • Moshe Mandel says:

              I think Zobrist is due for a correction, but if I had one right now:

              1) Mauer
              2) Zobrist
              3) Jeter
              4) Youkilis
              5) Hunter
              6) Longoria
              7) Cabrera

              And I think it is pretty close, so that a good finish could move any of these guys up the list. However, if the season ended today, I think Jeter would probably finish second.

              • You give a lot of weight to Jeter’s SS play, huh? Because Youkilis is a good defender at 1B as well, you know, and he’s a FAR more productive hitter than Jetes is.

                • the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

                  Damn right his SS play gets value, just like Mauer’s positional scarcity makes him valuable.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  I give a lot of credence to the replacement player idea. The gap between Jeter and a replacement SS is greater than the gap between Youkilis and the replacement 1st baseman, as evidenced by the fact that we could legitimately place 4-5 first basemen in the top 10.

                • I give a lot of credence to the replacement player idea. The gap between Jeter and a replacement SS is greater than the gap between Youkilis and the replacement 1st baseman, as evidenced by the fact that we could legitimately place 4-5 first basemen in the top 10.

                  And this is the difference between the two of us: we value different statistical concepts differently, I suppose.

                • I don’t have a big problem with voters taking position into account. Jeter’s WAR is 4.5, Youk’s is 4.1. Jeter’s defense at SS has been much more valuable than Youk’s defense at 1B has been. Jeter also puts up his offensive numbers at a position at which most of his peers are way below his level, which you can’t say about Youk.

                • the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

                  DISIRREGARDLESS, Mauer >> Jeter.

                  Zobrist is irrelevant.

                • Ok nevermind me, you guys are posting comments fast and furiously.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  How would you define MVP? As I said above, to me, it is about where the team would be without the player. Except for Zobrist and Mauer, no team would lose more due to an injury than the Yankees would lose if Jeter got hurt.

                • How would you define MVP? As I said above, to me, it is about where the team would be without the player. Except for Zobrist and Mauer, no team would lose more due to an injury than the Yankees would lose if Jeter got hurt.

                  I define MVP as a combination of “the player whose presence on/absence from his team means the most to that team” and “the player who had the best season in the league”.

                  I try to weigh all the factors equally. Inferior raw numbers at premium positions get weight. But not ALL the weight. Superior raw numbers carry weight too.

                • Chris says:

                  But he’s still a first baseman (and sometimes 3B).

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  Fair enough. Just out of curiosity, what would your MVP list look like?

                • How did you factor defense/position into the list above (in which you had Jeter “probably 9th”)?

                • Okay, the “probably 9th” was probably incorrect. I wasn’t going into super detail on the list. Here’s more detail.

                  1) Mauer – best hitter in the AL by far, playing plus defense at a premium position. Shoo-in.
                  2) Youkilis – heart of the order hitter, having the second best offensive season in the AL, playing good defense at 1B and able to play decently at 3B as necessary.
                  3) Zobrist – best offensive season by anyone at at defense intensive position in the league. Does nothing but produce, plays 4 positions.
                  4) Cabrera – heart of the order hitter, plays plus defense, one of the 4 most dangerous hitters in the AL.
                  5) Hunter – great offensive numbers, plays a premium position
                  6) Bartlett – great production from SS, a tick better than Jeter across the board
                  7) Jeter – see Bartlett
                  8) Morneau – Great hitter, but as a 1B, not outstanding enough to jump over other positional players
                  9) Tex – I may flip-flop him and Morneau. Tex’s April struggles hold him back.

                  I think the divide between myself is a philosophical one.

                  Using primarily a WAR-centric method of determining the MVP is essentially saying “Who amongst catchers, middle infielders, and centerfielders is having the best season, and then are there any other players and defense-poor positions who warrant leapfrogging them?”

                  Using primarily a wOBA-centric method of determining the MVP is essentially saying “Who amongst heart of the order hitters is having the best season, and then are there any 1-2-5-6 hitters who warrant leapfrogging them?”

                • “I think the divide between myself is a philosophical one.”


                  I hear where you’re coming from… I just asked the question because while you keep saying you take both approaches into account, it really seemed, above, like you mostly, if not totally, disregarded one approach in favor of the other. You still, in the list you just posted, clearly favor one approach over the other (and you explain why), but above you were really completely disregarding position/relative value/defense.

                  I mostly agree with the generalizations in your last two paragraphs. In the end, this is a completely subjective and relatively arbitrary decision, no matter which school of thought you happen to favor (unless you’re talking Barry Bonds in his prime, etc.). I come down more on Moshe’s side of this one, but I’m sure you both at least understand the reasons why you disagree and the see why the other side is reasonable. Whatever, it’s fucking MVP.

                • Whatever, it’s fucking MVP.

                  Exactly. What’s going to end up happening is, the BBWAA will find a solution that all of us hate equally.

                  Like Bobby Abreu.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  Lol. Your last sentence pretty much sums it up.

                • I’ll say this, though: Your points and Moshe’s points, like this above, make me retract my Jermaine Dye love for the 2006 MVP. I had forgotten in retrospect how bad he was defensively; thought he was just “meh” and not “OMG WTF STFU”.

                  So, I concede that point. Dye was a worse MVP candidate than I made him out to be.

                • If Chone Figgins were to win the award the BWAA would have to be dissolved.

                • Meh, the BBWAA should already have been dissolved for hundreds and hundreds of egregious offenses. What’s one more?

      • Rob H. says:

        I don’t see how the month will be a detriment or really matter at all. By the time the end of the season rolls around if Mauer is still hitting like he is, it shouldn’t be looked at as a fluke or anything b/c he missed that month and had less P.A.’s than jeter. Plus he missed the month and still has 18 HR’s and 59 RBI’s which I think speaks to his abilities this year.

  13. anonymous says:

    I was saying Jeter wins the MVP this year. He gets simpathy votes for the many years he should have won if he can put a decent year together. This qualifies. Jeter for MVP.

  14. OmgZombies! says:

    Jeter getting MVP this year over Maur would be payback for 2006

  15. Bo says:

    Theres only one MVP award Jeter wants. WS MVP.

  16. JohnnyC says:

    This resurrects the old debate about there should be 2 awards: MVP and Best Player. The murky definition of what constitutes an MVP candidate (as well as the quirky choices from year to year)makes any rationale for a given player pretty subjective. Classic case in point: Ron Guidry loses MVP to Jim Rice in 1978 because an everyday player trumps a once-in-5-days player, then, in 1986, Don Mattingly, an everyday player, loses out to Roger Clemens, a once-in-5-days player (eerily reversing the 1978 outcome). Go figure.

  17. Jimmy says:

    Can somebody compare JEte’s numbers this year to Pedroia’s from his MVP season last year? I bet JEte is pretty close.

  18. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Jeter leads the team in errors with 6. SIX! That leads the team. SIX!! How much better is this year’s defense than last?

    • whozat says:

      Much, much better.

      He’s getting to soooooooo many more balls, which is WAY more important. So what if 6 outs turned into runners on base? Balls that last year went through for clean singles are getting turned into outs.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

        I was not criticizing at all. I’m amazed that he has only 6 errors from the SS position. Nick Swisher and Arod also have 6 errors, but they have had a lot less balls at them this year.

    • zs190 says:

      Cody Ransom can’t allow this to happen, let’s play him a few more games at 3B.

      • You’ve got it backwards. All six of those Jeter errors came because Cody Ransom ran over from third base and tackled Jeter before he could field the ball cleanly.

        Every single bad thing that has happened to a Yankee individually or the Yankees collectively are all Cody Ransom’s fault. All of them.

    • Chris says:

      Three worst teams in AL defensive efficiency in 2008: Rangers, Mariners, Yankees

      Four best teams in AL defensive efficiency in 2009: Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays, Yankees

      • Rick in Boston says:

        Interesting. Is there a significant amount of luck involved in year-to-year defense? Or is possibly having Wang and his serious GB tendencies out of the rotation helping the team?

        • Chris says:

          I think it was the focus on improving team defense. A number of articles have been written about the Rangers (primarily about Elvis Andrus) and Mariners (their whole outfield) taking steps to improve their defense.

          The Yankees have seen significant defensive improvements at 1B, 2B, SS, and RF from last year. Two are because of new (better) players, but Jeter and Cano have both also improved significantly – as evidenced by both observations and stats.

          When you put it all together, I don’t think this is just a matter of luck.

  19. E-ROC says:

    Wrong year to have a great year for Jeter with Joe Mauer being in a different orbit. I think Jeter would need a tremendous August and September in conjunction with massive Mauer slump for him to win the MVP.

    I’m just glad he has bounced back from a “down” year.

  20. Manimal says:

    Over/Under on August 9th(last game of Sox/yanks series at home)is when the MVP chants start

  21. Chip says:

    Right now Mauer is my choice for MVP but I don’t think he keeps his commanding lead and Minnesota won’t make the playoffs.

    Mauer month-by-month

    May – .414/.500/.838
    June – .353/.407/.490
    July – .309/.377/.468

    I just think he’s gonna fade in with the rest of the guys if he keeps it up. That insane streak where he hit 11 homers in May is inflating his numbers at the moment.

  22. terri girl says:

    MVP…how did this award become Best Player Award…..Jeter is am amazing player….you could do worse

  23. Mike HC says:

    I for one expected this. So you can’t say “nobody” expected this. Jeter had one “down” year last year (which would be almost any other SS’s best year). You had to expect a bounce back year.

    Two, I can see the writing on the wall already. Morneau will once again edge out Jeter as the Yankee hatred continues, or even increases with the “Coor’s field east” bullshit myth. Maybe Mauer will be this years golden boy, but Morneau has killer stats and the voters obviously seem to like him better than Jeter as evidenced by the voting a couple of years ago.

    • dkidd says:

      not to overstate the importance of coaches (cano needs larry bowa!!! etc) but i think mick kelleher has positively impacted jeter’s defense

  24. Jim Lane says:

    Bobby Abreu gets my vote for MVP right now. With Vlad and Torri Hunter out he is hitting consistently, driving in a ton of runs and the Angels have the best record in baseball.

  25. YankeeScribe says:

    I don’t think that being on a losing team should disqualify player from winning MVP anymore than being on the team that wins the most games makes a player more eligible.

    One great player is usually not enough to turn a bad team into a contender and good teams usually have several good to great players.

    The MVP award should be based solely on individual stats and answer the question; “which player gives his team the best chance to win whenever he steps on the field or up to the plate?”

  26. [...] on August 04, 2009 by Lenny Neslin Rebecca from This Purist Bleeds Pinstripes guest posted Derek Jeter for MVP on River Avenue Blues this morning, and it got me thinking. It’s a little early to be starting [...]

  27. Tank the Frank says:

    I’ve always been incensed at the fact that Dustin Pedroia won the MVP last year with more or less the same – and in some cases – inferior numbers to Jeter’s 2006 year. The difference this year, as it has been the last three years, will be Mauer and Morneau. Compare Morneau’s numbers in 2006 when he won the MVP to his 2008 numbers when he came in second to Pedroia. The reason why Pedroia won the MVP and Jeter didn’t, is Justin Morneau, on both occasions.

    It will be much the same this year, as both Mauer and Morneau are having terrific seasons, as is Kevin Youkilis. Jeter’s had a great year and still could go on a tear and make a run for it. But once again it’s just not his year.

  28. Tony says:

    Jeter should have two MVPs already. I don’t even care about that bullshit award anymore.

  29. The Artist says:

    Good piece Rebecca, really enjoyed reading it!

  30. John says:

    Jeter should have already won MVP twice. He got robbed in 1999 when a juiced Ivan Rodriguez won. Then he lost to 2006 to Justin Morneau who had no business winning either.

  31. Ari says:

    As long as we’re talking about end of the year awards, it seems like in terms of the AL Cy Young the conversation is all about Halladay, or maybe Felix. But shouldn’t Greinke be in the conversations? He’s 1st in the league in ERA, 2nd in Ks, 5th in IP, has just as many complete games as Halladay (5), and has ten wins despite pitching for the worst team (dead last offensively) in the league. It’s pretty clear that if he played for a team with a semblance of offense and a real bullpen, or even one of those, he would be set up for a 20 win season. In fact looking at those numbers shouldn’t Greinke be considered the run-away favorite for the AL Cy-Young?

  32. [...] Over the last few weeks, we’ve toasted Derek Jeter. I hosted an appreciation thread before going on vacation while Joe praised his defense and examined whether or not the Captain has been the team’s MVP. [...]

  33. Anthony in Pa. says:

    Derek Jeter deserves the MVP Award simply because he is the most valuable player any team could have because of the way he unselfishly produces positive results for his team and the way he effects his team mates attitudes in a positive way. His stats are better than decent but not the main reason why he should have been voted as the MVP. Anyone who disagrees with this probaly thinks that stats alone should be the determining factor on how good a player is which in my opinion is wrong. Anthony in Pennsylvania

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