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The Value of Derek Jeter

daltexdaltex Posts: 2,506 ✭✭✭✭✭

In another thread, @1951WheatiesPremium said

I love how there are still guys that want to knock the catalyst, captain and HOFer Derek Jeter; there are five players in baseball history with more hits in the regular season and no players with more hits in the post season. But this isn’t a Jeter thread, it’s a 2022 AL MVP thread, so let’s not make it one. 😉

I'm happy to do that.

For those who haven't read the other thread, my contentions are that Jeter's defense cost his team more than any other player in history, which is a far cry from claiming he's the worst defensive player in history, just that the way he was used was an absolute disaster for his team. My second contention is that despite his reputation, he was not a clutch player in the postseason. In fact, in his 33 postseason series he contributed only 1.2% of a world series and, in fact, cost the Yankees .02 wins.

So first, let's stipulate that Jeter was a very good hitter. In fact there were four shortstops who were very good hitters. Wagner and Rodriguez (I count Rodriguez as a shortstop because he played a slight majority of his innings and earned a distinct majority of his value there, and, in fact, it is easy to calculate because he played only eight innings at short after he joined the Yankees) were elite. Jeter and Arky Vaughan. Amusingly, there is very little to choose from between Wagner and Rodriguez a=or Jeter and Vaughan. As a hitter.

I'll go so far as to say that Jeter was a top 100 hitter of all time, about equal to Will Clark or Dwight Evans. No shame there. But it's been a very long time since having a lot of hits was the determination of worth. Among players with 3000 hits, Jeter was only a notably better hitter than Biggio, Beltre, Yount Ripken, Brock and Suzuki. To be fair, I'm not considering what Suzuki did in Japan because I have no idea how to mention that.

We really have no idea what Jeter would have been worth had he been used at a position he could play competently. This is because he was never tried at any other position. We have no idea what the highest value position he could have played was because he never played a single inning anywhere except Short. Could he have stuck at Second or in Center, or would he have had to play First or even DH without hurting the team defensively? It makes a big difference.

So yes, the Yankees should have used Randy Velarde, or just about any AAA shortstop, instead of Jeter and moved to a position he could actually field, or, if none, let him DH. Jeter at DH and a replacement level shortstop would have done far better than Jeter did with the revolving door of DHs the Yankees used in his career, except maybe Giambi in 2005-6. If they could have found a defensive position he could play at a slightly below average level, so much the better.

Jeter was a very good, not great, hitter. He was a great hitter for a shortstop, but he was a terrible shortstop. His terrible defensive play gave back a huge portion of the good that his bat did. He wasn't terribly effective in the postseason, despite his 200 hits. His postseason hits record is much less impressive when you note that he has 32% more postseason outs than second place Bernie Williams.

Comments

  • thisistheshowthisistheshow Posts: 6,934 ✭✭✭✭✭

  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 5,325 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @daltex

    This is a tired argument, one you’ve made enough times already and it is based too much on statistical analysis rather than actual game play. Baseball is played on a grass field and not a computer. Baseball on a computer leads to a number of problems and faulty conclusions.

    Problem 1 - League Average Player

    There is no such thing as a “league average player” - the entirety of the systems that rate offense and defense are (almost all) based on that concept and assumption.

    In the real world, each player has strengths and weaknesses and you have to weigh them, field nine guys and have a balanced roster offensively and defensively to win.
    Statistics are not accrued in a straight line for most players - there are streaks of high productivity and streaks of low productivity. A guy who homers once every 11 at bats doesn’t actually homer once every 11 at bats; he may hit back to back homers and then not homer again for 31 ABs. It’s a game, not a simulation.

    And I happen to think this was one of Jeter’s strengths - his consistency.

    Problem 2 - Defensive Ratings

    They’re the best evaluative tools we have and they’re also, simply put, not very good. Not going to spend much time on this topic as if you follow baseball you know this to be true.

    Problem 3 - Weighting Postseason

    “My second contention is that despite his reputation, he was not a clutch player in the postseason. In fact, in his 33 postseason series he contributed only 1.2% of a world series and, in fact, cost the Yankees .02 wins.”

    That may be what your computer says. However, for people who actually watched the games, here’s what we know :

    In the 2000 World Series, the Yankees held a 2-1 series lead going into game 4, having won the first two at home and then lost game 3 at Shea. In a surprise move, Joe Torre moved Jeter to the lead off spot for the game (and kept him at shortstop), he drove the first pitch of the game from Bobby Jones over the wall and, for all intents and purposes, the World Series was over and the remaining 17 innings were simply a formality.

    Despite what the computer readings say, to a man, that hit was worth considerably more than 1.2% of the World Series. One first inning home run was THE biggest hit of the Series.

    Problem 4 - Foolish Premise

    The entirety of the argument, on its face, is an exercise in stupidity. The idea that the Yankees would have been better off with Derek Jeter playing a position other than shortstop when they were basically the best team in baseball for 80% of his career is foolhardy. Should we also lose Posada for his shaky at times defense or dump Andy Pettitte for his weak ERA? Look to upgrade both players there as well? A team is a team, these are not engine components, they are human beings. The mix the Yankees had worked - really well. Historically well.

    Derek Jeter was about as steady and consistent as it comes on both sides of the baseball for the entirety of his career. He played big in big moments. Don’t feel bad, there’s plenty of people out there like you.

    You probably just need a new map…😉

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  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 9,560 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 19, 2022 2:00PM

    Jeter sure killed the Twins when Minnesota had a run of division first place finishes. Saying he was "terrible" defensively seems a bit harsh. Maybe he sucked against everyone else 🤣

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  • lanemyer85lanemyer85 Posts: 1,242 ✭✭✭
    edited September 21, 2022 4:27PM

    well, you also don't even really need to look at advanced metrics (where he was an all-time worst 260 defensive runs below average & worst in zone ratings) to have seen Jeter's defensive flaws. The arm was fine, not great, but good enough to be SS-caliber for the majority of an average SS's career.

    The range was terrible, especially to his left (up the middle). I mean it was borderline if not full out difficult to comprehend that someone could be that inept. He was at least functionally athletic, the footwork shouldn't have been that bad. I would say he was pretty terrible at coming in on balls as well.

    https://archive.org/details/JeterBottom20

    I can remember Bill James doing a study of SS defense of that era and basically what it boiled down to was of every 20 balls hit to a certain range away from a fielder...that range being an area where an official scorer would have to make a judgement call on whether it would be ruled a hit or error, but of those attempts, a SS like Brendan Ryan would 99% of the time make an extra 4 to 5 more outs on those 20 balls than Jeter. Meaning if it was hit right to him, he was fine. If it wasn't, well.... he could at least get to a few of those softer grounders to his right to pull off that flashy jump throw of his, which saved him to the average Yankee fan who apparently has never played infield at even a Little League level, I guess.

    His ego also did him no favors. Had he let A-rod play SS and move to 3B, or I think LF was the rumored position for him, then he doesn't collect the volume stats at SS to surpass Toby Harrah as the worst cumulative defensive SS of all-time. Cumulative being the key phrase there. It's not that Jeter was THE WORST defensive SS ever on a per game basis. Another Yankee (Eduardo Nunez) probably has dibs on that honor, but no one was stupid enough to roll Eduardo Nunez out to SS everyday.

    FWIW: There's also plenty of data that suggests pretty much every SS declines defensively after their age 24 season (see Yount, Robin & Banks, Earnest), so even a GM or field staff leaving an aging, already subpar SS stay at a position for that long is in the vast majority of cases, already detrimental to a club on those grounds alone. I mean Banks & Yount can move off of SS, but The Captain can't? How fragile did Cashman & Torre think this dude's ego was?

    https://tht.fangraphs.com/fielding-aging-curves/

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 9,560 ✭✭✭✭✭

    He definitely sucked. He just killed my Twins, usually with his hitting.

    I don't really remember if he looked good in the field or not. Since I really didn't follow the Yankees, I can't chime in on his day to day defense.

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  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 5,325 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JoeBanzai said:
    He definitely sucked. He just killed my Twins, usually with his hitting.

    I don't really remember if he looked good in the field or not. Since I really didn't follow the Yankees, I can't chime in on his day to day defense.

    I did follow the Yankees, but I can’t chime in on his day to day defense, either, because having actually watched the games has been deemed unimportant at this point in time.

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  • lanemyer85lanemyer85 Posts: 1,242 ✭✭✭
    edited September 21, 2022 10:39PM

    I can have my 4 year old niece watch some games and then ask her for a report, but I'm confident she'll likely have no idea what she's talking about. If a vision of a competent defensive SS isn't already in your mind, it's not that difficult to go find some clips of Jeter playing defense and then watch a few Mets games with Francisco Lindor at short, and it shouldn't be too long until you see that these two things are not alike. It's not hockey or soccer. There aren't layers of defense being thrown at a puck or ball carrier. It's baseball, they're all playing defense in isolation. You shouldn't need any stats in this example to inform one that Jeter had the range of The Discobolus of Myron.

    If you do that and still come back thinking, yeah, Jeter was good defensively, then Trent Alexander-Arnold would like to welcome you to Liverpool's fanbase where he'd encourage you to feel free to spread the good word about his fabulous defensive play. Connor McDavid and Alex Ovechkin also think you have a great eye for defensive talent. Circa 1973 Willie Mays loves the cut of your jib. The Baltimore Ravens pass coverage would like to have you over for dinner, and were hoping you could pick up James Harden on the way over.

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 9,560 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @1951WheatiesPremium said:

    @JoeBanzai said:
    He definitely sucked. He just killed my Twins, usually with his hitting.

    I don't really remember if he looked good in the field or not. Since I really didn't follow the Yankees, I can't chime in on his day to day defense.

    I did follow the Yankees, but I can’t chime in on his day to day defense, either, because having actually watched the games has been deemed unimportant at this point in time.

    True. I thought Omar Vizquel was good with all those gold gloves, but he sucked too, except for a year or two.

    I almost forgot about Kirby Puckett. Watched his entire career and thought he was a superb defender, but it has been claimed he wasn't that good either.

    Maybe we should stick to discussing offense.😁

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  • lanemyer85lanemyer85 Posts: 1,242 ✭✭✭

    Vizquel didn't suck. He just wasn't the all-time-caliber defender the average fan thought he was. That being a guy who was on par or slightly below Ozzie Smith or Mark Belanger. So if he wasn't receiving strong HOF consideration (at least before the domestic violence accusations) you would hear as much about Vizquel as you do about Tony Fernandez today, which is nothing, and I would take Tony Fernandez's 10 year peak over Vizquel's.

    Even with a weaker arm and roughly league average range, Vizquel was still much better than Jeter defensively. Even at the end of his career when he was with the White Sox and the Jays, he was still converting a couple of the "probable hit" chances into outs (because of the great hands and glove to hand transfer/quick release). The range where Jeter would convert zero outs of those attempts and the Adam Everett types would convert roughly 4-5 of 20 chances into outs.

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 9,560 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @lanemyer85 said:
    Vizquel didn't suck. He just wasn't the all-time-caliber defender the average fan thought he was. That being a guy who was on par or slightly below Ozzie Smith or Mark Belanger. So if he wasn't receiving strong HOF consideration (at least before the domestic violence accusations) you would hear as much about Vizquel as you do about Tony Fernandez today, which is nothing, and I would take Tony Fernandez's 10 year peak over Vizquel's.

    Even with a weaker arm and roughly league average range, Vizquel was still much better than Jeter defensively. Even at the end of his career when he was with the White Sox and the Jays, he was still converting a couple of the "probable hit" chances into outs (because of the great hands and glove to hand transfer/quick release). The range where Jeter would convert zero outs of those attempts and the Adam Everett types would convert roughly 4-5 of 20 chances into outs.

    How would you rate Aparicio?

    2013,14 and 15 Certificate Award Winner Harmon Killebrew Master Set and Master Topps Set
  • DarinDarin Posts: 5,075 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Seriously though, no comments on Jeter having the range of the Discobolus of Myron.
    We're all just going to pretend we know what that means and go about our merry way? :*

  • galaxy27galaxy27 Posts: 5,168 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Darin said:

    Seriously though, no comments on Jeter having the range of the Discobolus of Myron.
    We're all just going to pretend we know what that means and go about our merry way? :*

    when i read Discobolus of Myron i got discombobulated and went to another thread

  • lanemyer85lanemyer85 Posts: 1,242 ✭✭✭

    @Darin said:
    Seriously though, no comments on Jeter having the range of the Discobolus of Myron.
    We're all just going to pretend we know what that means and go about our merry way? :*

    in fairness, it was only the 4th funniest line in that reply:). The Ravens pass coverage comp & the James Harden reference should have brought the house down...

    Sorry Joe, Aparicio retired 8 years before I was born. So I'd have to go strictly by the numbers which would obviously not be as useful as they are for today's players. I'm sure my dad has thoughts since he was that weird Chicagoland area guy who watched both the Cubs & Sox.

  • DarinDarin Posts: 5,075 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @lanemyer85 said:

    @Darin said:
    Seriously though, no comments on Jeter having the range of the Discobolus of Myron.
    We're all just going to pretend we know what that means and go about our merry way? :*

    in fairness, it was only the 4th funniest line in that reply:). The Ravens pass coverage comp & the James Harden reference should have brought the house down...

    Sorry Joe, Aparicio retired 8 years before I was born. So I'd have to go strictly by the numbers which would obviously not be as useful as they are for today's players. I'm sure my dad has thoughts since he was that weird Chicagoland area guy who watched both the Cubs & Sox.

    I don't know about 4th funniest but in uniqueness its unrivaled.
    It should be an automatic argument winner for that aspect alone.
    Now to yahoo to find out what it is.

  • Daltex,

    Are you saying Derek Jeter cost his team more defensive runs than Edgar Martinez cost his team?

  • Fielding measurements have a fatal flaw that has never been rectified, especially for older players before the year 2000 or so. The easiest way to have a high fielding rating is to simply have more balls hit your way. Since you are already proven you can handle the routine play in MLB, then you will handle those balls at a rate high enough to make you look better than a league mate who simply may not have had the same amount of chances.

    Take Jeter and compare Jeter to himself:

    1996 he had 444 assists in 1,370 innings.
    1997 he had 457 assists in 1,417 innings.
    2001 he had 343 assists in 1,278 innings.
    2002 he had 367 assists in 1,383 innings.
    2005 he had 455 assists in 1352 innings.

    Did he somehow lose his range in 2001 and 2002 and only to somehow regain it a few years later at an older age in 2005?

    2001 he lost 112 assists compared to 2005. Yes, 74 less innings, so if we equalized the innings it would still be around a 100 assist difference.

    1996 to 2002 he lost 77 assists and played 13 more innings.

    So what is the driving force in that swing of 77 to 100 assists by the same player on the same team? Imagine a hitter losing 100 singles from one year to the next. One does not simply walk into Mordor. That simply does not happen to all-star caliber hitters in the middle of their prime.

    The driving force is sheer luck of a ball being hit your way or not. In baseball, 90% of the defensive opportunities are of the routine variety. Of those 90%, if one player is simply getting more chances his way, then he will have a better defensive rating in any defensive metric.

    This is a guy on the same team with sometimes the same pitchers and look at those wild jumps. Now imagine comparing Jeter to a league mate who has a completely different set of pitchers...it only compounds it more.

    Whatever fielding metrics Jeter has, you can apply an 80% discount to them. There is no way on earth that the validity of his hitting ability should be cancelled out by invalid or faulty fielding measurements.

    So take Jeter's hitting ability at 100% face value. Take his current defensive metrics and give them a 20% value....and then combine them. Then you will get a more realistic valuation of him.

    I agree with 1951 Wheatiespremium. When you see Jeter make ridiculous acrobatic plays and heads up plays, there is no way he becomes that much of a stiff on balls hit seven steps to his left or right.

    As for Jeter and his 12 thousand plus career plate appearances, with playing in a more competitive era than Vaughn while facing tougher pitchers than Vaughn, then I put him ahead of Arky Vaughn as a hitter too with Vaughn's short career and Vaughn also playing in an era catered to his strength where it was super easy to accumulate high batting averages.

    Add Jeter's excellent baserunning skills in both stolen bases and standard baserunning. Jeter is better than what is being espoused here.

  • MaywoodMaywood Posts: 409 ✭✭✭

    I did follow the Yankees, but I can’t chime in on his day to day defense, either, because having actually watched the games has been deemed unimportant at this point in time.

    Likewise, I actually watched a good portion of Omar Vizquel's playing time and don't really understand the severe criticism he gets here. He always seems to get compared to Ozzie Smith's highlight reel.

  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 5,325 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @lanemyer85

    Two questions:

    1). Did you ever see Derek Jeter play?

    2). Are you a Red Sox or Mets fan, by any chance?

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  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 5,325 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Also, on Alex Rodriguez?

    His hips were already starting to give out as he was coming to the Yankees. I believe it is correct to say that, medically speaking, the most local joint to the injection site is often adversely affected by regular PED use. So to think, especially with hindsight, that A-Rod would have been better at short?

    That seems pretty unlikely. Maybe in year one there but that seems like a silly move to me - to displace your captain for one-two seasons in favor of a steroid using piece of…baseball history. 😉

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