Should Anyone Sign Derek Jeter?
- Updated: November 30, 2010
Seems like a perfectly asinine question. Of course, most teams should be after Derek Jeter. He has great leadership qualities and is one of the top ten hitting shortstops in the history of the game. The trouble is that there is so much more about the game. Even when you include the hitting, he is due to get worse before he is due to get better. However, to be generous to Jeter, let’s take the last three seasons and compare them with other prominent shortstops. We will look at ten prominent shortstops and their wins above replacement over the last three seasons.
There are two ways to look at these numbers. You could be positive and point out that only three of the ten shortstops have been better over the three year period. You could also be negative and point out that every shortstop on the list had a better 2010 than Jeter. Remember, we just cut it off at ten. The problem is that the Yankees are already offering Jeter more money than any of these players. He wants between 23 and 24 million dollars. That is double the annual rate of any of these players. The problem comes down to defense. Despite all of those Gold Gloves, Jeter is an awful defender according to most metrics. Here are his Dewan ratings as far back as they go.
Remember we are only going back as far as 2005. If we were to go back further we would see even more red ink. If you peruse baseballreference.com you will find that he has only two seasons where he has a positive defensive WAR rating. So, obviously he has never been a good defender and only sporadically has been mediocre. He isn’t likely to get better in his latter thirties.
Here is where the traditionalists come into play. How can we possibly understand the greatness of Derek Jeter with all of these numbers? Fair question. Jeter has the reputation of being a money player. So, if Jeter goes to the Astros, Pirates, or even a team like the Athletics, would he have the opportunity to produce in money situations? Will that famed leadership make a difference on a team destined to win 75 games? Does a Derek Jeter (who has been in the playoffs every year but one) want to go to one of these teams where the playoffs are a remote possibility?
I hate to side with the Yankees on any dispute, but you have to side with them here. Derek Jeter needs the Yankees more than they need him. Sure, having him finish his career there is a feather in their cap, but I doubt it’s a feather that is worth more than fifty million dollars over the life of a contract. As tough a pill as it is to swallow, Jeter needs to realize he isn’t an elite shortstop anymore. When all things were considered he might not have ever been an elite shortstop in terms of the game’s history. Often times, reputation and reality just never meet.