Monday, July 11, 2011

Derek Jeter's place among Yankee greats

Jeter got his 3000th hit. That's a great accomplishment because you have to be at least a good hitter and you have be durable. Much of durability is luck. But I'll still give a little credit there. And Jeter is a very good hitter.

But I have long felt Jeter is overrated because he plays in NY, plays SS on a consistently good to great team, and is a good looking guy. As I said, he is a very good hitter. But I don't think he is as great a hitter as is advertised because he isn't a complete hitter. He doesn't hit for enough power to be considered an all time great IMO. He is a mediocre fielder. And the aura around him as the captain and a leader who is clutch is mostly overblown hype that masks the fact that he was only one very good player on teams filled with other good to very good players.

I want to compare him to Joe DiMaggio in order to put him in some context. I chose DiMaggio because Skip Bayless put Jeter above him in his all time Yankees list. And without even looking at their stats I thought that was a bit ridiculous. Well, I've looked at their stats and my belief has been confirmed. Here are Jeter's relevant stats:

.313 BA, .383 OBP, .449 SLG, .832 OPS, 719 RAR, 70.5 WAR

His batting average and on base percentage are very good, which is why he hits at the top of the lineup. His slugging percentage is probably about average. And because of his SLG his OPS is good but not great. His offensive WAR is great, 25th all time. But as I mentioned, his defense hurt him and thus his overall wins probability added ranks 83rd. So all in all, a great player, but not quite the legend he is made out to be. Probably helped a lot by playing a position in SS that doesn't have a lot of great hitters. Let's compare this to DiMaggio:

.325 BA, .398 OBP, .579 SLG, .977 OPS, 839 RAR, 83.6 WAR

Batting average and on base percentage are better than Jeter's (DiMaggio walked 421 more times than he struck out, unreal). His SLG is considerably higher than Jeter's, and thus so is his OPS. You could argue that DiMaggio played a less important position than Jeter, which was CF and the outfield in general. But the stats suggest he was a better than average defensive outfielder. So while Jeter is playing the more difficult and more important position, his defense probably wasn't significantly better than the average SS. So I'd argue their defenses are about a wash. And DiMaggio gets on base more than Jeter and hits for more power.

Its not a bad thing to be not as good as Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio is rightfully an all time great. Regardless, Jeter is a very good player who should be in the HOF one day. I just wanted to point out the fact that Jeter is not the player he is made out to be by the media and nearly all of fandom. He hits for a very good average and gets on base at a very good rate. He also fucks a lot of hot chicks and gets to play alongside a bunch of other good players in the biggest market in the country. But he doesn't hit for much power and is not a great defender. And in order to be as high as many people think he should be on the list of the greatest Yankees you need to do all of that.

2 comments:

  1. Another issue that comes up with him is how well he's done in the postseason, which only furthers things. He was never a great fielder though. Part of the offencive argument is that since SS offence is so rare, it boosts him up. He's 7th in WRc+ and 15th in non-park adjusted slugging (min 1000 PA) of all SS. He's 11th in WAR for SS too.

    That said, Jeter is 5th on the Yankees leader board for WAR, so in that regard, he would absolutely deserve to be called an all time Yankee great, and perhaps in general, but to some extent he is a bit overrated as he isn't in the same range as a Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle or even DiMaggio.

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  2. I don't think of the postseason much because there are so many more at bats during the regular season. Being a SS definitely boosts him. There just aren't a lot of great hitting SS. Agreed though, an all time great but not quite as good as those Yankee legends.

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