Sunday, February 16, 2014

Some Brief and Obvious Points About Derek Jeter

Trim For The Win
> I'm not a fan of his laundry. But if I were, I'm pretty sure he'd be my favorite player. How could he not be, really? Defensive range isn't exactly something that jumps out on a day to day basis as a problem, he's had a few thousand knocks, hasn't ever embarrassed the franchise with media mishaps, is actually home-grown (that matters), and drives the opponents nuts without being a jerk about it. Oh, and he's the best to ever play the position for a franchise that's had, well, an astounding amount of success and talent all over the place. (Yes, he's better than Phil Rizzuto. It's also clearly the weakest position in Yankee history, since Bucky Freaking Dent is #3.)

> It's kind of nuts that he's never been the MVP. Part of it is that the table-setter isn't usually seen as the MVP; you can only score one run at a time, after all. But the bigger reason is that since he was on the biggest MLB+ market team ever, he never had a year where the vote wasn't being split by members of his own team. But still, it's going to be an odd thing to explain later, when his career is well and truly over.

> If you think he's leaving just to make sure he never has to deal with Alex Rodriguez again, you might not be wrong, Especially if he goes out and does something silly great this year. (Silly great here equals a 300+ batting average, 20 HRs, 100 RBIs, 20 SBs, 150 games played. It's silly to think that a guy who looked so spent in limited time in 2013 could do that at his age, but it's not like he hasn't spent much of his career doing ridiculous things.) Also, I can't blame him at all for wanting no part of more circus.

> To the people who are saying that he's not draftable in shallow leagues in fantasy... um, how freaking shallow is your league? If you are playing in a league where only 12 shortstops get taken, there are guys like Andrelton Simmons, Starlin Castro and Jimmy Rollins going off the board, and all of those guys murdered their owners last year. And that doesn't even take into account leagues that, well, actually mimic real ball by having a backup middle infielder, at which point Omar Infante, Jonathan Villar, Jed Lowrie and Jurickson Profar are in the mix. It's really not impossible to see Jeter, as proud and competitive as any athlete of his generation, outperforming those lesser lights. Remember, he scored 99 runs, hit 15 homers, and stole 9 bases while hitting .316 in 2012, and it's hard to see how the 2014 Yankees aren't better on offense, if only because it's hard to see how they'll be worse than they were in 2013. He's going to be owned by a lot of players this year, and they aren't all going to lose.

> All of this might sound like I'm a fan; I'm not. He's the author of the single play that, in my opinion, doomed my favorite team from never making a playoff run. (And sure, it seems nuts to think that The Flip, which happened in a first-round playoff game, meant that it was impossible for the Moneyball A's to ever win a series. And yet, well, um, that's how it felt at the time, and how it came to pass.)

I think you can make a reasonable argument on how he might be one of the most overrated players of all time, as I can rattle off at least a half-dozen guys that were better, while his fans think he's the best ever to play the position. (My rankings: Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken, Ernie Banks, Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin, Pee Wee Reese, Alan Trammell, Lou Boudreau, and maybe when they are all done, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki in front of Jeet, because his defensive range at short is just so bad, you have to treat his offense as more like a second baseman, and .828 in the Roid / Expansion Era is not that astounding.) But he's no worse than in the top 15 to 20, and as such, a lead pipe cinch for the Hall in Year One.

> There might not be another athlete who ever played the media better. Jeter bedded a stable of women that staggers the imagination, played shortstop every day for the media circus team of the era, and made enough money to create his own super-villain lair, but his ability to bland his way through every quote, and to somehow run the gauntlet of women without any of them turning Alanis on him... it's downright astounding. Joe DiMaggio's got nothing on him.

> Finally, there's one thing that even Jeter's biggest hater can't deny; the man pulled the best trim in this, and potentially any other, era. I'll leave other blogs to delve into the names and faces, but the man took *full* advantage of his role. 

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