Derek Jeter: Response to Tom Mechin: Why the New York Yankee Is NOT Overrated

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IApril 7, 2011

Tom Mechin recently had a very good article on Derek Jeter and acknowledged that he is a great player.  He even pointed out that he is probably a first ballot Hall-of-Famer.

But Mechin thinks Jeter is overrated.

I beg to differ, and rather than just add a comment to Tom's piece, I wanted to write an analysis of why Jete is not overrated.

You can begin with pure statistics. 

Right now Jeter has 2,930 hits. He has scored 1,689 runs, hit 234 home runs, has 1,136 RBI and has stolen 323 bases.

Other than Jeter, only four other players in the history of baseball have at least 1,500 runs scored, 2,900 hits, 200 home runs, 1,000 RBI and 300 stolen bases.

Those five players are Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Ricky Henderson and Craig Biggio.

The first three are in the Hall of Fame and were never in doubt.  Biggio will be there soon.

Even Hank Aaron did not reach these marks in all five categories.

Aaron played 23 seasons, had 2,174 runs scored, 3,771 hits, 755 home runs and 2,297 RBI. But he only stole 240 bases, so he misses on the last category.

Jeter has completed 16 seasons in the majors.

Jeter will probably never reach Hank's hit total of 3,771 or his runs scored total of 2,174, but if Jeter plays seven more seasons, he could come close. 

Mays played 24 seasons in the bigs, Molitor played 21 seasons and Henderson played 25.

If Jeter could have their longevity, he could surpass many of their marks for runs scored and hits.

Also considering defense, in the purely subjective area of Gold Gloves, Aaron won three, Biggio won three, Henderson won one. 

Only Willie Mays, the greatest defensive center fielder in history has more Gold Gloves than Jeter. Jeter has five, whereas Willie collected 11.

The most important statistic of all of course is winning. And winning is what Jeter has done better than anyone else on the list here.

Jeter has five World Series rings. Aaron had one, Mays had one, Molitor had one, Henderson had two and Biggio never got one.

Only one other shortstop in the history of the game is in the same class with Jeter, statistically.

Honus Wagner played for 21 years, scored 1,739 runs, had 3,420 hits, 101 home runs, 1,733 RBI and stole 723 bases. 

Jeter will surpass Honus  Wagner in runs scored, will come close to him in hits and is already far ahead in home runs.

Wagner played in the dead ball era when no one hit home runs, so it is difficult to compare that stat. But in every other category, Jeter is very close to the greatest shortstop who ever played the game.

If you look at every major league player in the history of the game, only one player with 3,000 hits comes close to Jeter's World Series accomplishments.  Eddie Collins won four world titles in the early years of the 20th Century. 

But no one equals Jeter.

Jeter has been the consummate team player for his entire career.  Tom Mechin argued that Jeter was never the most important player on his team.

I would argue differently.

Whereas Mariano Rivera may have been the MVP for much of the Yankees' success in the postseason, without Derek Jeter's on-field play and intangible leadership skills, does anyone actually believe the Yankees would have played in seven World Series during his tenure.

Since 2004, Alex Rodriguez has been the greatest player on the New York Yankees when one considers only on-field skill.

A-Rod has played one full season more than Jeter, and his career records are better than Jeter in all but two columns. 

Jeter, of course, has more hits.  And Jeter has a higher career average than A-Rod.

Without question, A-Rod was also a better defensive shortstop when he played that position.

But A-Rod has never been close to Jeter as far as being the most important player on the team, because Jeter has always been the leader of his team.

Even from his earliest days, Jeter stood out. If you listen to other players talk about Jeter he exudes a quality that other players cannot match.

In statistics alone, Jeter proves that he is not overrated.  He is among the most versatile and excellent players ever to play the game.

How can a player who excels in so many areas of the game be overrated?

But statistics don't tell the whole story with Jeter. Mike Francesca on WFAN and YES has been debating for some time now that Jeter cannot be measured by statistics, or that if you do, he is not among the elite—even of his era.

Francesca says you have to measure Jeter among the elite because of his intangibles.  He is correct about the intangibles.

But he is wrong about the statistics. Jeter is great statistically, and no one can take that away from him.

There is no way Derek Jeter can be overrated.


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