Is Derek Jeter the best hitting shortstop ever?

Kennedy to pitch in fall league
Getting more or less what the Yanks paid for

This is a guest post from the always-welcome Moshe Mandel of The Yankee Universe.

Jesse Spector of The Daily News took an interesting look at Derek Jeter‘s place in history, and came to the following conclusion:

At the very least, he’s in the conversation with Cronin and Wagner, a pair of Hall of Famers who were the best of their times. Cronin in the early part of the live ball era and Wagner in the dead ball era, both before Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues at second base and expanded the talent pool to allow Jeter to be a part of it.

The other thing is that the game has changed in ways beyond simply who is playing it. Cronin and Wagner combined to strike out 1,027 times in their careers, while Jeter has gone down on strikes 1,440 times. But in this era, even averaging 100 strikeouts a year, Jeter rarely is criticized for having a high strikeout rate. Jeter also has the advantage of having been seen by millions of people in his career. The only people who ever saw Cronin or Wagner were either there in person or saw them on newsreels. Good luck finding them on YouTube.

In an era where everyone is always quick to describe the last thing to happen as the greatest, Jeter does deserve all the praise for breaking a record and having a place among the greatest of all time. But it’s impossible to peg him as being alone as the best when the hard facts of statistics don’t put him there convincingly, and the rest of the evidence isn’t up for review. So, at least until Jeter gets a clear numerical edge on Cronin and Wagner, he’ll have to settle for just being called one of the best, with nobody standing as the clear-cut No. 1.

This is a very thoughtful, reasonable article, and I encourage you to read it. That being said, Jeter is most definitely not the best hitting SS ever, although he is almost certainly in the top 5. The problem with judging Jeter at this point is that his career is not over, in that he has not gone through a decline phase yet, and other players are being penalized for having moved off SS while Jeter has not reached that point in his career. However, being that Derek is unlikely to play another position for an extended period, let us consider only the players who spent a considerable portion of their career at SS.

For example, players like Ernie Banks, Robin Yount, George Davis, and Alex Rodriguez would all have legitimate arguments to be ahead of Jeter, but none lasted at SS past the age of 30. This is going to be a rudimentary analysis, so correct me if I make any errors. Remember, we are considering offense only. Furthermore, a player like Luke Appling would likely be on this list if not for missing time due to WWII. Because I am not sure how to correct for that, I am just going to use career totals, which sadly leaves Appling off.

Honus Wagner: Career Numbers: .327/.391/.466 OPS+: 150 5 best (full) years by OPS+: 205, 187, 186, 176, 175

Joe Cronin: Career Numbers: .301/.390/.468 OPS+: 119 5 best years by OPS+: 138, 136, 135, 129, 127

Arky Vaughan: Career Numbers: .318/.406/.453 OPS+: 136 5 best years by OPS+: 190, 149, 148, 146, 140

Lou Boudreau: Career Numbers: .295/.380/.415 OPS+: 120 5 best years by OPS+: 164, 145, 133, 131, 128

Cal Ripken: Career Numbers: .276/.340/.447 OPS+: 112 5 best years by OPS+: 162, 145, 144, 143, 128

Derek Jeter: Career Numbers: .317/.387/.459 OPS+: 121 5 best years by OPS+: 153, 132, 128, 127, 126

One note: Looking at 5 best seasons by OPS+ does not exactly do Jeter justice, as much of his value is caught up in his consistency. His 6-10 best years are likely better than those years for most of the players on this list. That being said, I think we can reach a few conclusions.

1) Honus Wagner is the best hitting SS of all time, and Arky Vaughan is second.

2) Cal Ripken stuck around way too long, and his decline was substantial enough to knock him out of the top 5 in terms of offensive value.

3) Jeter is right there in the next group with Boudreau and Cronin, rounding out the top 5, and an argument can be made for Jeter as #3 if you place career value over peak.

Conclusion: Among players who remained at SS for the bulk of their careers, Derek Jeter is no higher than 3rd but is likely no lower than 5th (unless I missed somebody) in terms of hitting. Next time somebody tells you he would be a borderline star if he played in KC, tell him to do some research.

ed note: this was written and sent to me yesterday before either of us saw this.

Kennedy to pitch in fall league
Getting more or less what the Yanks paid for
  • 27 this year

    If he played for the Royals, he would be somewhere completely different because the Royals wouldn’t have the dough to sign him long term plus everything he has done in the post season would be gone as well.

    As always, a well written post Moshe.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      Thanks. Your point is true, but I find that makes his case for greatness even stronger. He likely would still have the numbers to be #3, just none of the hype and playoff stuff that makes the mainstream media droll. It is funny, if he started in KC, Jeter probably would have been a guy that the sabermetric community was touting while scouts were rolling their eyes, instead of vice versa.

      • MattG

        Does that make Michael Young the bizarro-DJ?

        • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

          Eyeballing Young’s numbers, he was helped a lot by Texas, and really only had two great years (one of which is this season at 3B). I cant say if he is bizarro Derek just because I’m not sure if we are talking about NY Derek or hypothetical KC Derek. Now I’m confused.

          • MattG

            No, I was totally wrong. Young is revered by scouts and reviled by Sabermetricians too. He isn’t bizarro, he’s the same. A guy like Mark Ellis, if he were a shortstop (and a lot better), would be the bizarro Derek Jeter.

            • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

              It’s funny about Jeter and sabermetricians. None of them ever questioned his offense. It was the defense, which he has seemingly fixed, and the “intangibles” stuff. Now everybody pretty much thinks the guy is awesome.

            • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

              To be fair, Jeter isn’t totally reviled by sabermetricians, only his defense. I think everyone in baseball can agree that Jeter’s hitting from the SS position has been nothing short of brilliant.

  • Mattingly’s Love Child

    Nice post. I read Neyer’s take on the article, but he missed the boat on Ripken, and rarely gets this nitty gritty.

    I’d definitely argue for Jeter at #3. With baseball being a sport of the marathon, 162 games, I’ll take consistent excellence over short-lived absolute brilliance.

    • Dela G

      same here

      +2

    • Chris

      Except Neyer’s cutoff was an OPS+ greater than 112. Ripken’s OPS+ was 112.

  • Klemy

    I just have this issue with comparing people from different eras, so impossible to do without having seen them play day to day like we can now. I guess since all we have are numbers, 3 is pretty damned fine on his part.

    • crawdaddie

      I agree with you about the different eras especially in regard to players from the segregated era. I’ve been following baseball since the early 1960s and in my opinion, Jeter is the best hitting SS I’ve seen over a 14-15 season career. It will be interesting to see how he closes out his HOF career.

      • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

        Yeah, it seems pretty clear that he is the best hitting SS since WWII, which is a pretty amazing statement.

    • Chris

      so impossible to do without having seen them play day to day like we can now

      Except, even now you can’t see more than 1 (maybe 2) SS play day to day. This is why we have stats.

  • MattG

    In a race for #5 or 6 might be Barry Larkin. I think he should be part of this discussion. To a lesser extent, maybe Miguel Tejada’s name should be here, too.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      Yeah, Larkin probably should have been on there, possibly ahead of Ripken. Ripken does have the longevity thing over him, while I am pretty sure Larkin had trouble staying healthy.

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        Larkin is pretty underrated on the offensive side; people definitely forget about him.

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          Playing in Cincinatti will do that.

          Missing out on parts of prime seasons due to injury have also had an effect.

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

            He should have been a “Nasty Boy”. That would have helped.

            Or maybe wear some ridiculously goofy Rec-Specs like Chris Sabo. Or bash some watercoolers. I’m just saying, if you’re in Cincy, you better have a gimmick if you want to be remembered.

            Sincerely,
            Chad Ochocinco

            • Mattingly’s Love Child

              Them Rec-Specs were really popular with the white kids in the sticks…..

              I didn’t wear ’em, but knew plenty of kids that did!

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

                I didn’t wear ‘em, but knew plenty of kids that did!

                Sure, you didn’t.

                (wink)

                Play it cool, hotshot.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    I love OPS+ and it’s a very nice stat, but even though it adjusts for the league average, it’s still hard comparing someone like Jeter to guys in the pre-integration days. You could easily argue that the pre-WWII guys got a bit of a boost from playing with a diluted field of competition and the 80’s-00’s guy could get hurt by playing an offensively explosive era in which a guy like Jeter may not look as good. Its lack of adjusting for position (like wOBA doesn’t for park/position) is part of what makes it incomplete.

    Either way, good work, Moshe and I agree with your assessment.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      Yeah, as I said in the post, this is really a pretty rudimentary look. You would need to use a lot more than OPS+ to come to a really clear conclusion. That being said, it was heartening to see Neyer come to the same result, and for the guys at BBTF to basically agree with it.

    • MattG

      Add to that these facts:

      1. scouting is so much better now, no halfway talented player is missed

      2. international scouting!

      3. expansion has lagged behind the population

      4. No PCL-quality alternative leagues

      There is no question the talent pool in the current game is far superior to Wagner’s game. Still, Wagner was so much better than his contemporaries, in a way Jeter never has been, that I think that these facts are mitigated in some hard-to-quantify ways, making the end result is exactly what the stats would have you believe.

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        Still, Wagner was so much better than his contemporaries, in a way Jeter never has been,

        Agreed.

      • crawdaddie

        The problem with Honus is that the way people play team sports today like baseball is so different that it’s very difficult to say Wagner was so much better than his competitors in comparison to Jeter because Wagner’s field of contemporaries was really limited in so many ways.

        • Esteban

          At the same time, there were fewer teams, and fewer spots on rosters, and the NFL and the NBA didn’t even exist. Therefore, while noting that some of the best players were ridiculously banned from playing, there was more competition for the available spots on rosters.

    • Esteban

      I think that you can only evaluate players accurately by judging them against their contemporaries. Run scoring environments can change so much, expansion has happened, and baseball fields have changed sizes, etc., so it’s not exactly fair to say that ‘normal’ is just post-integration. Wagner also played in the dead ball era. For example, Wagner’s .513 slugging% in 1907 was first by .058! He put up slugging percentages that would be excellent for a SS now, and decent for most positions.

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

    2) Cal Ripken stuck around way too long, and his decline was substantial enough to knock him out of the top 5 in terms of offensive value.

    I’d argue that rather than sticking around way too long, he played way too much (by playing every day), abused his body, and entered his decline phase about 3-4 years earlier than normal.

    Ripken, Age 21-30: 127 OPS+
    year by year: 115, 144, 145, 124, 123, 105, 128, 105, 114, 162 (MVP)

    Ripken, Age 31-40: 96 OPS+
    year by year: 92, 97, 107, 91, 102, 93, 89, 143, 95, 70

    After his MVP season, he wasn’t the same. Most guys have their prime from about 27-32. 27 was probably the beginning of Ripken’s slow decline.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Reminds me of Craig Biggio.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      He had a strange career. As you noted, outside of that MVP year, most of his great seasons came from 22-27. He peaked really early (22-24) and was pretty much done as an above average player at 30. You don’t really see that much anymore, but then again, you dont really see players playing everyday for their entire career either.

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

        Yeah, and the other guy who famously played every day died before he made it to 40.

        My ironclad conclusion based on a non-small sample size: not taking frequent vacations causes you to age rapidly and die young.

        Q.E.D.

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          Could you send that to my boss?

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

            Sure.

            If that’s not convincing enough, the third great “IronMan” of baseball, other than Ripken and Gehrig?

            Albert “Degenerative Arthritic Hip” Belle.

            I’m just saying.

            • Mattingly’s Love Child

              So we should all raise our children to be lazy like Cano and Melky?

            • jsbrendog

              so if i don’t use all of my vacation days then i will:

              a) develop a degenerative bone/joint malady

              b) taper off productionwise at my profession until I am a shell of my former self and living off previous accomplishments/reputation alone

              c) die before I reach 40

              shit man. Trip to Florida FTW!

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

                Exactly.

                The NBA IronMan is A.C. Green, who’s probably the most famous virgin ever.

                Seriously, take a day off every now and then. Bad things happen when you don’t.

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

                  NFL IronMan:
                  Brett “I change my mind more than a woman” Favre

                • Mattingly’s Love Child

                  So being an Ironman=Bad Things(get hurt/become unproductive/no sex/become a total diva)?

                  You offer an awful lot of unscientific proof that I’ll gladly subscribe to.

                • jsbrendog

                  i hate him so much. he has ruined the joy of football season for me. I absolutely hate him. just retire already. It will be awesome when he throws picks in the 4th quarter of at least 2 must win games and they mis the playoffs OR when he is replaced by sage rosenfels after sucking so bad. oh i cant wait

                • Mattingly’s Love Child

                  I’m just waiting till his rotator cuff tears enough that he can’t play anymore this season. That is probably a terrible thing to say, but I am a terrible person.

                  I’m not a huge football fan, but Favre completely ruins it for me.

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

                  Don’t worry. The Packers and Vikings will be all over your TV screen this year, and the Bears will still win the NFC North.

                  You heard it here first.

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

                  I don’t get why you guys are so anti-Favre.

                  He’s just a regular guy’s guy. A man’s man. He’s comfortable in Wranglers.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2pIvg-2vEY (safe)

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

                  Seriously, though, watch that commercial. Brett just out in the park, throwing the football around, having fun.

                  And his receiver comes open, and what does Brett do? He leads him so much that the guy has to take a faceplant into the only pool of muddy water in the park.

                  Thanks a lot, asshole.

                • Mattingly’s Love Child

                  By the way, who the f*ck plays football in jeans? If one my friends showed up to play football in jeans we would ridicule them mercilessly until they either cried or went home to change.

                  Further reasons to hate Favre.

                • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

                  Disclaimer: Packers fan.

                  That being said, I’m not sure what the big deal is with Favre. He wrestled with the decision a milion times, and keeps changing his mind. People do that all the time, it isn’t his fault that ESPN is all over every move he makes. I hate him for going to the Vikes, but the whole “will he or wont he” is a product of the ridiculous obsessed media, not Brett.

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

                  Yeah. I goof around with the Favre stuff, but I personally have no ill will toward him.

                • Mattingly’s Love Child

                  I’m just sick of the story with him. The media does have the obsession, I agree with you. If he just hung it up, or at least didn’t let trusted members of the media know what his thought processes are, the story would go away. So I feel that he is partially at fault.

                  But really, ESPN needs to get over him. When I’m running on the treadmill before work, the last thing I want to see for almost half the time I’m running is more talk about Favre.

            • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

              …I’m still trying to explain why Steven A. Smith is such an asshole to my wife, and she’s getting irritated with my perusal of RAB.

              This result of sharing this new tidbit:

              Her: Wait…your stupid baseball site just said, in essence, we should go to my mom’s a couple times a year?

              Me: yes.

              Her: Well…i guess they aren’t all bad…

              • Mattingly’s Love Child

                No. We didn’t say that. Not unless her mom resides in a tropical locale and you find her company tolerable.

                If she lives someone awesome and is fun to be around, then yes, that is what we said.

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

                …I’m still trying to explain why Steven A. Smith is such an asshole to my wife, and she’s getting irritated with my perusal of RAB.

                Steven A. Smith is an asshole to your wife? Huh, that’s funny… how does he know your wife?

                • jsbrendog

                  well played

      • Lance

        Andruw Jones says hello.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    What were the Louisville Colonels thinking when they got rid Honus Wagner?

    Those wacky 1800’s.

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

      I could be wrong, but I believe that the Cleveland Naps traded Shoeless Joe Jackson to the Chicago White Sox for a flipbook animation version of the film “Birth of a Nation”.

    • Rick in Boston

      I believe they folded when the NL contracted.

  • Dela G

    another great article as usual

  • MattG

    Of course, had the poorer shortstop moved off the position in 2004, to make way for the better one, Jeter wouldn’t even be in the discussion. Paving the way for Larkin vs Ripken as your best offensive shortshop since WWII.

    Alex wouldn’t be at shortstop any more either, regardless of the hip thing. He was never going to play SS into his mid-thirties.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Even so, his numbers at SS through whatever year he stopped would probably have been better than Ripken/Larkin.

      • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

        Nah, his 9 seasons would not have been enough (although you might say the same about Boudreau). Anyways, looking at the body types of the two players, it seems evident to me that it was the right move. If they had switched, I bet they would have since switched back.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          What I’m saying is that if he hadn’t moved of SS as soon as he got to the Yankees and played, say, ’04-’07 there, his numbers would be better than Ripken’s and Larkin’s.

          • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

            Oh, I thought you were talking about Jeter. Yeah, had A-Rod stuck at SS for a few more seasons, it would be a battle between him and Wagner.

            • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

              Oh, my bad for being unclear.

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

                Matt, you have shamed us all. Please commit seppuku immediately.

                • Posthumous MattG

                  Sorry, and done.

              • Mattingly’s Love Child

                Way to show off that UConn English degree…..

                I’ll send Hoeffstedder (definitely not spelled right) to take your degree back.

    • CountryClub

      As far as anyone knows, he was never asked to move off of SS. Part of Arod coming to NY was him agreeing to move to 3rd. On top of that, Arod profiled as a better 3rd baseman (because of his power) than Jeter did.

    • jsbrendog

      yeah seriously, usually the power/good hitting ss bulk up and have to move off.

      i think jeter weighs less now than when he did when he came up. dude hasn’t packed on a pound

      • JMK

        But he has packed in the pounds. Hello supermodels!

        /pat’d

    • kunaldo

      it’s a damn shame alex didnt stay at SS…he really would have been the best player ever…one of the best 5 hitters in the game at a premium position…sometimes i feel bad for the guy…then i remember he’s alex rodriguez

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

        True.

        In the long run, it’s probably better for both of their legacies.

        Jeter gets to be the best SS ever, Alex gets to be the best player ever. I don’t think remaining at SS (or conversely, moving to 3B) really changes the long-term legacy of Alex all that much.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Nope. No matter what position he’s played, A-Rod has murdered baseball history.

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

            Jayson, is that you?

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          The only thing changing the legacy of Alex is the utter domination of Pujols…..

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

            Ah, yes, Albert Pujols, the clean champion we’ve all been waiting for!

            Sincerely,
            Fans who want to pull the wool back over their eyes and plug back into the Matrix

            • Mattingly’s Love Child

              I’d really love for him to be clean. It just seems too good to be true, and all of my baseball experiences in the last 15 years that were too good to be true, were.

              Except for when the Yanks won the series in 96. I had come of age with the god-awful early 90s teams. That seemed like a miracle to me.

    • YankeeScribe

      Jeter was the 2nd best short-stop in baseball until 2004. A-Rod dominated the position for 9 years…

  • Mike HC

    I enjoyed the article. I agree that Jeter has been one of the best, and when it comes to those top couple of guys, it is just a matter of preference.

    I do think that post season stats should at least play a role. I’m not about to start checking all of their post season stats, but it should at least come into play considering the playoffs count even more than the regular season.

    • jsbrendog

      but again therein lies the problem.

      jeter had 3 rounds of postseason while a guy like wagner had one, the series, etc.

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

        And Wagner played on a crappy Pirates team, to boot.

        They only made the Series twice. The Dutchman had 62 postseason plate appearances in his career. Derek Jeter passed that in the 1996 WS.

      • Mike HC

        I agree that it is not perfect, but Jeter has put up very good numbers in the post season. Maybe Jeter’s post season’s numbers wouldn’t swing anything in his favor anyway, but they should at least be part of the equation. His OPS in the postseason is identical to his OPS in the regular season. As Moshe stated in the article, it just goes to show how consistent Jeter has been. I’m not trying to take away from Honus Wagner, those numbers are tough to argue against, but I’m just furthering Jeter’s case.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Jeter’s post season OPS is exactly the same as his regular season OPS.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        I heart that fact.

  • CountryClub

    Jeter is a popular guy this week. Features about him all over the place. The Daily News, Rob Neyer, and now SI.com has one up on him:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/joe_posnanski/08/19/jeter/index.html?eref=sihpT1

  • http://www.twitter.com/MatthewHarris84 Matt H. :: Sec105

    Hitting, yes, Jete is #3, but overall he’s gotta be behind wagner.

  • YankeeScribe

    I love Jeter but if A-Rod ended his career at 30, or didn’t switch to 3rd in order to protect Jeter’s ego he would be remembered as the greatest shortstop ever. Jeter is definately in the top 4 all-time.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      That’s not really true. Longevity, especially while playing at a high level like Jeter has, is incredibly valuable. If A-Rod had retired at 30, I’m not so sure he makes this list so easily.

      • YankeeScribe

        A-Rod played over 1000 games at SS. I think that’s a large enough sample size to make him eligible for consideration. Plus, he switched postions at the peak of his career. He didn’t switch positions because he was declining. When he switched to 3rd base he already had HoF numbers for a shortstop…

        • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

          That requires us to give him credit for things that did not happen, something I hate to do. Just because he would have retired in his peak does not mean the peak would have continued.

          • YankeeScribe

            We can only assume that A-Rod would’ve continued to provide gold glove defense if he had stayed at SS. And there’s no reason that his offesnive production would have been any different had he remained a shortstop.

            If A-Rod had retired after his final season with Texas he would have the best career stats of any SS through 1200 games…

            • jsbrendog

              We can only assume

              no we cannot because there is no way to know that. he stays at short and anything could happen. everything we know and see is different and there’s no way to know what it owuld be instead

              • YankeeScribe

                I only mentioned what he would have done for the sake of argument but it’s really unnecessary.

                Longevity is the ONLY argument for those who’d liek to put Jeter ahead of A-Rod as far as best hitting shortstops. For 9 seasons, Jeter was great but only a runner up to A-Rod at short-stop…

            • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

              He would not have continued anything had he retired, which was your hypo. As it is, 1200 games is plenty, but he will finish his career with more games at 3rd, and less games at short than Jeter, Wagner, or Vaughan.

              • YankeeScribe

                My point was basically, had A-Rod retired a short-stop, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. He was already the best hitting short-stop ever when he decided to switch positions in 04′

                • Moshe Mandel

                  And my point is that 9 seasons would mean that Jeter’s longevity would beat A-rod’s brilliance.

                • YankeeScribe

                  If you feel that way, it’s a personal preference. But longevity aside, A-Rod was the better hitting short-stop.

                • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

                  Yes, Jeter’s greatest strength aside, the other guy’s career is better.

    • CountryClub

      It made more sense for Arod to go to 3rd. Jeter at 3rd didnt make any sense. I guess he could have gone to 2nd…but then they never would have brought up Cano. I think at the end of the day the Yanks are very happy with how their infield turned out.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        Definitely hard to complain, unless you’re name is Bo/Grant!

        • jsbrendog

          or sal.

          and in other news, Lanny

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

            Hey, that’s not fair, Bo’s a nice guy who is always cordial and you pick on him too much, you brute!

            /TankFoster’d

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        Or they could’ve converted Cano to a third baseman. His bat could play there and he’s got the arm strength for it.

      • YankeeScribe

        A-Rod was superior to Jeter defensively so it made more sense for Jeter to switch positions. But the Yankees were not going to move their team captain/franchise player, a decision I respect…

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          My heart agrees with you, but the rational part of my brain disagrees. You move you have to to improve the team.

          But maybe the Yankees looked ahead and didn’t see ARod aging as well at SS as Jeter would. Knowing they’d have to two on the team basically forever, they decided to go the path of least resistance, knowing it would be harder to move Jeter back to short once ARod was too old/slow for the position.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

            …Mo pointed out Arod’s bad hip during his physical, and told Ca$hman to move him to third.

            Next question.

      • The Fallen Phoenix

        No, he probably should have gone to CF.

        I mean, it doesn’t really matter now, but that’s what a lot of people in the sabermetric community preferred after A-Rod was shipped to New York, if I recall correctly.

  • http://twitter.com/Hopjake Jake H

    I think right now it’s hard to say where Jeter will end up. If he gets 3200 hits and 1800+ runs I could see him being close to the top. He probably is one of the greatest SS ever and I think that will be good enough for Jeter.

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

      He probably is one of the greatest SS ever and I think that will be good enough for Jeter.

      Wrong. He wants to be THE best ever, and if you get in his way, he’ll rip your f$%&#ng heart out and eat it for dinner.

      Derek Jeter stabbed a guy.

      (I may have made that last part up.)

  • dkidd

    jeter’s career ops:

    846

    jeter’s post-season ops:

    846

    clutch hitting isn’t the (mythical) ability to raise your game under pressure. clutch hitting is the ability to MAINTAIN your game under pressure

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

      clutch hitting isn’t the (mythical) ability to raise your game under pressure. clutch hitting is the ability to MAINTAIN your game under pressure.

      Agreed. There’s no such thing as clutch players, just non-clutch players.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        ie Alex Rodriguez.

        perfect example: look how hot he is this year! do we need it? no. we’re nearly double-digits up over the crashing Sawx.

        Where was he last year?

        • jsbrendog

          please be sarcasm…

          • Mattingly’s Love Child

            I think you gotta crank up your sarcasm detection meter dude.

            • jsbrendog

              that’s why i said please and didnt MOCK OUTRAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              but yeah, ive been at work for 9 hrs…it’s that time of the day

              • Mattingly’s Love Child

                Time to go home yet?

                • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

                  NO SIR it was not sarcasm at all!!1!

    • Mike HC

      It is not only pressure, but better pitching. In the regular season, Jeter sees teams 4/5th starters, crappy middle relievers, and just bad teams with crappy pitching. In the playoffs, usually the teams with the best pitching make it there anyway, they shorten their rotation to a 3/4 man rotation, and they rarely give their crappy middle relievers innings at all. So, by Jeter maintaining his regular season stats into the postseason, he is actually stepping his game up because it is against better competition

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        I agree with you partly. But a perfect example is the Rangers’ teams of the late 90s. They didn’t have much pitching and made the playoffs on the strength of their bats. And Jeter got plenty of at-bats against them. But in general, he has succeeded against better pitching.

        • Mike HC

          Yes, sometimes teams with mediocre pitching can make the postseason, but even then, Jeter will only see the front end of the rotation, and their very best relievers.

  • Steve

    Jeter is awesome, but he is so boring, and I was reminded of this last night when whoever from YES said “Melky was having fun did that sense of fun help charge the team up?” and he said “we hit some balls good last night.”

    WTF? That’s not even the question. I get why he does it, and he is smart to be bland, but damn it entertain me, that’s your job.

    • Zack

      Jeter’s sense of humor >>>>>>>> you

      • Steve

        no, not really. like I said, I get it. but i don’t like it. say something interesting. or if you’re gonna go the play dumb route at least do it with a wink the way shaq used to.

        • Mike HC

          Maybe that is just him. Maybe he has no secret personality. He may just be a bland guy.

          • Mattingly’s Love Child

            Unlikely that a bland guy bangs so many models/starlets/hotties. But maybe them ladies are bland too.

            • Mike HC

              Captain of the Yankees, good lucking guy, and his contract. He doesn’t have to have a personality of any kind to get models/starlets/hotties. And as you said, many of those girls never need to develop a personality of any sort, so they are also pretty bland.

              Usually, when people are bland in front the media, but really have big personalities in their private lives, you hear about it. Guys write books, reporters investigate … I truly think Jeter is just a bland guy. I don’t think you can hide a personality for 15 years.

              • Mike HC

                I meant good “looking” guy, but come to think of it, he is a good “lucking” guy too

                • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

                  …I’m telling you, he’s gay, and that is going to cause some outrage. some mock, some ignorant…and lots and lots of surprise…

          • Steve

            i don’t buy that at all. they show countless shots of him yukking it up on the field, in the dugout…i actually suspect he’s a really really funny dude.

            • Mattingly’s Love Child

              Or everyone just laughs cus he’s Derek freaking Jeter.

              Seriously, I agree. Dude looks like he’s real funny.

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

                Yeah, I bet Jeter is cool and natural with his teammates and doesn’t give a crap about the press, so they don’t get normal Jeter, they get boring, corporate Jeter.

                Because the press is beneath him, he doesn’t care about them enough to be engaging and genuine.

              • Mike HC

                Tim Duncan is always very bland with the media, but you would always here how funny he was behind closed doors from other guys. Nobody is saying that with Jeter. I have never heard a single person say how funny, or full of personality Jeter really is.

                • jsbrendog

                  he makes them sign nondisclosure agreements. and by them i mean everyone. ever.

        • Zack

          why? hes been doing it for 13 years and now he should be shaq?

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

      He went to the Al Gore school of public speaking.

      Be bland and monotonous, so that they don’t remember what the hell you said 5 minutes later.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      No, I’m pretty sure his job is to bag more celebrity ladies than he does infield groundballs.

      • jsbrendog

        so thn the reason he is so good defensively this year is because he is quite possibly settling down with minka? and therefore he is bagging more infield groundballs than celebrity ladies??

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

      Here’s how that exchange happened:

      YES Talking Head: “Melky was having fun; did that sense of fun help charge the team up?”
      Derek Jeter’s Internal Monologue: “Did this idiot really ask me that? That’s a dumb ass question. Seriously, you went to college for probably 5 years studying journalism and that’s the best question you can ask? Putz.

      …Well, Jetes, let’s wrap this up and go bag some Bay-Area poontang. Let’s give Stock Answer Number, oh, 17. Switch it up.”

      Derek Jeter: “We hit some balls good last night.”

      … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        On the Yankees’ team plane, sometime in 2010

        Derek Jeter: It’s time to work on your interviews.
        Austin Jackson: My interviews? What do I gotta do?
        Derek Jeter: You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: “We gotta play it one day at a time.”
        Austin Jackson: Got to play… it’s pretty boring.
        Derek Jeter: ‘Course it’s boring, that’s the point. Write it down.

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

          Jackson: When are you going to teach me how to bag mad shorties?
          Jeter: Patience, young padawan.

          • http://www.facebook.com/dougchu Doug

            Jackson: But Uncle Derek… I want to party like you do! I want to get my Bone on!
            Jeter: I guess you are becoming a man now, Austin. My, where do the years go.
            Now, you have to understand, getting one’s Bone on is a big responsibility!
            Are you sure you’re ready?
            Jackson: I… I think so. I even have some cologne.
            Jeter: Never mind cologne! Have you got a jimmy hat?
            Jackson: Y-yes.
            Jeter: Good! Now… you know how to put the jimmy onto your wee-wee, right?

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

          well played matt the actuary who likes big black…i need to work on my internet acronyms. pay no attention…

  • Joba or Hughes-To-the-pen

    WAgner is rolling around in he’s grave of the idea Jeter is as good as him.

    Jeter is not even the best hitter(Texiera) on this team.And not the best player in the 90’s dynasty(Mariano).

    Every week Yankees fans need to hero worship Jeter.We get it he’s great.He’s not the best shortstop of all time.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      And not the best player in the 90’s dynasty(Mariano).

      No. You are so wrong on this it’s not even funny. The more you say, the less credibility you have. This is just a dumb, dumb statement.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        +1

    • Accent Shallow

      He’s not the best shortstop of all time, but he’s top 5 (or top 3, if you believe Moshe). He’s not exactly chopped liver.

  • Lanny

    I’d love for his career to be over before we start these retrospectives. Considering he has at least 5 yrs left.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      for once i hope this dude’s right…

    • Tony

      We want him to be called the best shortstop ever by the time he retires. That kind of campaign needs to begin well in advance. In fact, we should have started a few years ago.

  • Kyle

    A-Rod and Wagner are the two best hitting SS of all-time. It’s too bad the team player A-Rod was nice enough to change positions even though he was the superior offensive and defensive player at the time.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      Looking at their body types, it seems evident at this point that it was the right choice. If Jeter had moved, he probably would be moving back right about now.

      • Kyle

        Who’s to say that A-Rod doesn’t stay the same skinny guy he was at SS? It was only after his move to 3B that he put on the muscle to keep his power well into his 30’s.

        • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

          Because he had already bulked up in Texas. And if he does not bulk up, ho is to say he produces at the same level? Or that he doesn’t break down?

          • Kyle

            No he didn’t. He bulked up for the 2006 season, and it was noticeable. He was consistently beaten by fastballs up and in, before he lost some of the bulk for 2007 and had a noticeably quicker bat. A-Rod was and always will be better with a quicker bat, so I don’t think you would have seen a decent drop in production until his mid to late 30’s.

  • Thank You Michael Lewis

    I want to say first that I love Jeter as a player and am so happy to have watched him over the years.

    That said, articles like this one in the Daily News are absurd. How can the author just discount Alex Rodriguez because he switched positions? The author takes the approach that SS is a defensive-oriented position (true) and so history shouldn’t reward the mashers that were hitting well to keep them at short until they were too poor defensively.

    Had Arod’s defense fallen off a cliff and he was forced out of shortstop, then I could understand the consideration. But, not only is the assertion patently false, but it’s ironic in that Jeter was the poorer fielder.

    ARod moved to 3B not because of eroded skills, but because he wanted to play on the Yankees and it would be a PR nightmare to replace Jeter at short (though it would have been optimal).

    UZR only goes back to 2002, but in those final two years of Arod at short, here is how the two players measured.

    2002
    ARod: 12.6, Jeter: -0.2. In fact, the second highest UZR was Edgar Renteria with a 7.3. Arod’s UZR was 73% more productive than the second best!

    2003:
    Arod: 10.9, Jeter -2.2. Arod had the second highest UZR behind Adam Everett, who is regarded by many as today’s version of Ozzie Smith.

    Jeter has never approached those fielding numbers and 2009 is the only season in which he rated well. At best, Jeter was about an average shortstop. At worst, he was considered by many as the worst defensive shortstop in the game.

    UZR is not the only metric to consider, but it’s clear to anyone that tracked defense that Arod blew away Jeter.

    Arod was not only one of the best hitters in the game, but he was consistently one of the best fielding shortstops in the game. Plus, he played several years at short, enough to qualify his hitting as all-time elite.

    To exclude him from contention because he sacrificed his position for the Yankees is a dubious way to write headlines that Yankees fans will want to read.