After another fine season and trip to the postseason in 2010, Derek Jeter got a little more good news on Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that he'd received his fifth American League Gold Glove award in honor of his tremendous defensive play at shortstop.
This award could not have come at a better time for the shortstop, as Jeter is a free agent and will soon be negotiating his latest, and potentially last, contract with the New York Yankees.
And while there will be those who say that Jeter had a down year in 2010, and that he may be at the beginning of the downside of his career, to this we say "hogwash."
Derek Jeter proved once again in 2010 with not only his play but with his leadership and gamesmanship that he remains one of the elite players in Major League Baseball on both sides of the ball, and deserves to be paid like it.
With this in mind, we present: Eight Reasons Why Derek Jeter Deserves To Be Amongst the Highest-Paid Players in Baseball.
As Jeter's agent begins the negotiations for his new contract, he can add to his already substantial bargaining chips another terrific season in 2010.
Jeter led the American League in plate appearances in 2010 with 739, which is tied for the 69th highest total of all time and made all the more amazing by the fact that Derek actually missed five games this year.
Add to that his 111 runs and 30 doubles, and we see that Jeter, once again, was the model of the offensively oriented shortstop.
There are those who argued that Jeter actually had a down year in 2010, relying upon his declines in batting average and on-base percentage. And slugging percentage. And OPS and total bases. And hits and home runs and stolen bases and bases on balls. And his increase in strikeouts and double plays.
But look at it like this: in 2009, Jeter scored 107 runs and drove in 66 RBI. In 2010, despite those decreases, he actually scored more runs (111), doubles (30 vs. 27) and had more RBI (67).
If anything, Jeter's 2010 season more impressive than his 2009 season, since he was able to improve in those categories despite declining in those others.
Jeter won his fifth Gold Glove on Tuesday afternoon, an award he both earned and deserved. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, which exists in the form of his defense statistics, video of his play, and audio of players, coaches and writers talking about his defense, Jeter is clearly one of the elite defensive players in all of baseball.
So forget all those articles by guys like Bill James and Rob Neyer. Forget all that defensive data compiled by the guys over at Baseball Info Solutions. Forget all those different defensive statistics contained in the enormous databases at baseball-reference.com. Derek Jeter is one of the greatest defense shortstops of all time, and he deserves to be paid like it.
Derek Jeter ended the 2010 season with 2,926 hits, which puts him within one season's range of 3,000. Jeter would be the first shortstop ever to reach 3,000 hits, other than Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Youn, and Honus Wagner, and he will eventually pass those three guys on his way to breaking Pete Rose's all-time hits record, so it is safe to say that he is probably better than all three of those guys even now.
Hell, Jeter already has twice as many home runs as Honus Wagner (234 vs. 101); can there be any doubt that Jeter is already twice the player Wagner was?
Being a great shortstop means so much more than simply having good offensive and defensive numbers.
Being a great shortstop requires more.
It requires you to get into position when your outfielder overthrows two cut-off men so that you can field the errant throw and flip it to the catcher just in time to nab Jeremy Giambi at the plate.
It means throwing caution to the wind and putting your body on the line by throwing yourself into the stands to catch a potentially game-tying foul ball against the Red Sox in a crucial July game.
It means having the courage to welcome the second-best shortstop in the league onto your team, and giving him the support he needs as he learns to play third base.
Only one player has done these things: Derek Jeter, the Greatest Shortstop of All Time.
Anyone can get 200 hits per year in Seattle, Washington. Anyone can break the home run record in San Francisco, California. Anyone can win numerous batting titles in San Diego, California; Boston, Massachusetts; or Minneapolis, Minnesota.
But not anyone can do what Derek Jeter has done in the City That Never Sleeps, the Big Apple, New York New York. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, and Jeter has proven that and so much more.
This city chews up lesser players and spits them out. Roger Maris couldn't handle it. Neither could Gary Sheffield. Nor Randy Johnson.
But Jeter has withstood the fans' boos, the hostile media and the 24-hour party to emerge as one of the greatest players of all time.
And frankly, the numbers he has put up on this most hostile of stages are more impressive than anything any other similar players have done in more tame settings.
I hope you are sitting down, because this number is going to knock your socks off:
In 15 major league seasons, Derek Jeter has been to the postseason 14 times!
How many active major leaguers can say that? Not many.
In fact, how many players all time can say that? Same answer.
And once the Yankees get to the postseason, Derek Jeter never fails to come through for his team. The Yankees have won five World Series titles on his watch, hitting an incredible .309 in 147 postseason games.
And, Jeter's aforementioned 147 games is the most postseason games of all time, more than Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig or any other Yankees postseason hero of yore.
In fact, his 147 postseason games is more than Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio combined!
Jeter's success in the postseason has truly been unrivaled.
We all have opinions on who the greatest Yankee of all time was, but there is only one clear answer: Derek Jeter.
Ask yourself this: Could Babe Ruth play defense? Yeah, sure, we all know about his bat, but Ruth was incredibly out of shape, and was stashed in the outfield. Jeter, on the other hand, is a Gold Glove shortstop. 'Nough said.
How many hits did Lou Gehrig have? 2,721, or put another way, over 200 hits less than Jeter. 'Nough said.
We could continue this charade with Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Don Mattingly, but the answer will be the same: 'Nough said.
Obviously, it is way too soon to say that Derek Jeter could already be the greatest player of all time.
But it isn't as soon as you think.
By June of next season, a then-37-year-old Jeter will collect his 3,000th hit, and begin his march towards 4,000 hits.
He is a season or two away from 1,800 runs scored, 500 doubles, 250 home runs, 350 stolen bases, 1,300 RBI and 1,100 bases on balls.
At the end of next season, he'll likely win his sixth Gold Glove award, which would make him only the sixth player to do that.
So think about it: here is a guy that plays the toughest position in baseball at a Gold Glove level, a Hall of Fame caliber hitter, who plays on the biggest stage in the world and has more championship success than anybody else.
Wouldn't you HAVE to think he is only a couple of seasons away from becoming the greatest player of all time?
And more importantly, don't you think he deserves to be paid like it?
Yeah, so do I.
Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia and is a co-founder of BaseballEvolution.com.