Toronto Baseball Guys
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
  Always Time For Jeter Mail
More than two years after it was originally posted, 100 Reasons to Hate Derek Jeter continues to inspire more reader mail than anything else on the site. These generally fall into three categories:

1) Non-Yankee fans, who love it.
2) The rare Literate Yankee fans, who get the joke and appreciate the list.
3) All other Yankee fans, who send grammatically challenged insults, threats and arguments against the list.

Here's the latest:

Derek Jeter overrated????????????!!!!!!!
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAaAAAAA
Do overrated players have the most hits in the major leagues since 1996? And have four World Series rings? And carry a .315 career batting average? And play gold-glove defense? And get their 2,000th career hit before they turn 33? And win the World Series MVP award? I could go on and on. NO HE IS NOT OVERRATED

Joseph Senecal

Thanks for writing Joseph. At least you've tried to raise some counterpoints, instead of simply assembling all of the curse words in your vocabulary and sending that, like so many of your Yankee-worshipping brethren.

Let's tackle your points one at a time:
Do overrated players have the most hits in the major leagues since 1996?

Most hits since 1996 doesn't really tell us much. We can infer from it that he's consistent and durable - both valuable traits, but it tells us nothing about what kind of hits he's getting or how often he's getting them. Those numbers would be much more useful in determining a player's value.

Jeter's also had nearly 200 more plate appearances than anyone else since 1996, and thus more opportunities than any other player to collect those hits.

Johnny Damon and Garrett Anderson are also in the top 5 in hits since '96. Gary Sheffield and Vladimir Guerrero aren't. Who would you rather have on your team?

Mark Grace had more hits than any other player during the 1990s, a fact that won't be appearing on a Hall of Fame plaque any time soon. Pete Rose is baseball's all time hit leader, and you'd have a hard time arguing that he belongs among the top 100 hitters in the game's history.

Simply put, most hits doesn't equate with best player.


And have four World Series rings?
True, Jeter does have four World Series rings, making him the equal of Jeff Nelson, Mike Timlin, Gene Tenace and Amos Strunk. Gene Woodling has 5. Joe Collins, who batted 400 times in season twice in his career, played in 7 World Series, winning 5. Johnny Murphy won 6.

Not that any of these guys were bad players, but multiple rings has a lot more to do with being on the right dynasty at the right time than it does with individual greatness.


And carry a .315 career batting average?

Well, now you're just making it easy. There's no baseball statistic more overrated than batting average, a tradition that dates back to the sport's beginning, to the point that the "batting champion" is the player with the highest average. Never mind that he's seldom the league's best hitter. Batting average is far from meaningless, but all it tells you is how often a player hits singles.

Forget .315, George Sisler hit .341 over his career, but that only translated to a .379 OBP and .468 slugging percentage, unremarkable totals, particularly in Sisler's era.

But you asked if a .315 hitter can be overrated, so how about Lloyd Waner? He hit .316 lifetime, but didn't walk or hit for power, and was actually a below average hitter.

At 34, it appears as though Jeter is entering his decline phase. Look for his average to drop at least 10 more points before he's finished.

And play gold-glove defense?
In Jeter's 13 full seasons, his Range Factor (Assists plus put outs) per 9 Innings has been better than the League Average once. That means he consistently makes fewer plays than the league average shortstop.

Yes, he won 3 gold gloves, because of his bat, his notoriety and because he's made some famous plays. Mostly he won because the 2003 winner, Alex Rodriguez, was no longer playing short, and because the Gold Glove voters are generally clueless. These are the same people who once voted Rafael Palmeiro a Gold Glove on the strength of a whopping 29 games at first base.

And get their 2,000th career hit before they turn 33?
Joining such immortals as Del Ennis, Harvey Kuenn, Buddy Bell, Stuffy McInnis, Willie Davis and Jimmy Sheckard, along with 78 others - none of them bad players, of course, because who in their right mind allows a bad player to stick around long enough to amass 2,000 hits?

It's a nice little accomplishment, but all it means is that a player came up and held down a regular job at a young age.

And win the World Series MVP award?

David Eckstein, Pat Borders, Ray Knight, Bucky Dent, Rick Dempsey, Darrell Porter... Nice week to get hot though.

All of these accomplishments make nice bullet points on a resume, but they don't tell us anything that we don't already know - that Derek Jeter is a very good player.

The biggest flaw in your argument, Joseph, is that you've confused the word overrated with bad (ironically, #13 on the list). Jeter will one day have a plaque in Cooperstown, one that he'll deserve - but he's the definition of overrated. His mystique far exceeds his reality.

Jeter's the only league average hitter hawking razors and sports drinks on national TV, and - like most players to reach free agency - he's grossly overpaid for his level of production. As a hitter, he's basically Roberto Alomar, with nowhere near the defensive value. He's not among the top 20 players of his generation.

I could go on and on.
Oh, please don't. At least not until you've installed something like this:


 
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