March 27, 2009

HE WASN'T ALWAYS OVER-RATED:

Time for Honesty About the Great Derek Jeter (Allen Barra, March 26, 2009, NY Observer)

Though the New York press and Yankee fandom don’t seem to realize it, Jeter has been on a sharp decline over the last couple of seasons, and 2009 is going to determine a lot about how the next generations of fans remember him. Thirty-four—he’ll be 35 in June—isn’t old for a bottle of wine or even a first baseman, but it’s like dog years for a shortstop, and right now Jeter is acting like an old dog refusing to learn new tricks.

He just finished the World Baseball Classic hitting .276 and without an RBI or stolen base. If the starting assignment has been based on merit, Jeter would have sat out every game and watched Jimmy Rollins play. Jeter’s devotion to the WBC is admirable, but the truth is if he weren’t one of the most popular players in the history of the Yankees—and I don’t take that lightly since he’s been my daughter’s and my favorite player for the last 13 seasons—he wouldn’t be shortstop right now. I don’t know who would be, but Derek Jeter would be playing another position.

Let’s go ahead and say it: No major league team has ever won a pennant with a 35-year-old shortstop.

This will be Jeter’s 14th season (not counting 1995, when he only played 15 games), and judging from the blogs and radio call-in shows, Yankee fans are assuming that he is a walking Hall of Famer, but I don’t necessarily think that’s true.


That he's a player in obvious decline who should have been moved off shortstop when the team acquired Alex Rodriguez doesn't mean he's not a lock for the Hall. Nevermind that he's a shortstop with a career OPS over .800--better than Allan Trammel, not as good as Barry Larkin--consider that he's essentially played another season in the playoffs (495 at bats) and gone: .309 17 49 16 (.377/.469). Just as Curt Schilling's astonishing level of post-season burnishes his other credentials, so too does Jeter's.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 27, 2009 11:43 AM
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