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Show Some Respect for Derek Jeter's 3,000 Hits!

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Show Some Respect for Derek Jeter's 3,000 Hits!
Michael Heiman/Getty Images
Derek Jeter watching hit number 3,000 leave Yankee Stadium.

I, for one, am sick and tired of the people who are making a career on bashing Derek Jeter.  There are too many "journalists" out there who give DJ backhanded compliments such as, "Way to go reaching 3,000 hits, too bad you're just a shadow of your former self." 

While I'll agree he's not really a gold glove shortstop—he's very good...metrics or no metrics.  Let's call a spade a spade...the metrics are crap—period.  These "new" stats that have gained such popularity in the baseball community over the past 10 to 15 years are garbage.  They suppose that they can tell you what player to have at the plate with runners on second and third with one out at 2 PM when the sun is shining through partial clouds while the wind is blowing from the southeast are just a bunch of hullabaloo.  They are stats for the sake of stats, period. 

Watch Jeter play...that tells you all you need to know. How many errors does he make...there you go.  Baseball is still a game of immeasurable qualities in many players. The defensive value he adds to the team on plays like he made against the Oakland A's in the 2001 playoffs is simply not able to be put on paper...that is a superstar.  Go ahead, quantify THAT.

Wait a minute, before you assume I'm a Derek Jeter stroker—I'm not. 

He is certainly one of my favorite players but I readily admit that he is in decline.  He is not what he used to be as a player. I won't argue that at all. What I contend is that when you compare him to his peers—the rest of the 3,000 hit club—he is nowhere near the worst player at this point in his career.  So, I've done just that here. 

When you compare his batting average at the time he reaffirmed his place in baseball history by driving a ball in the the left center field seats at Yankee Stadium he is very average.  The chart below shows the Player, the season and their batting average that season.  Since I could not readily find their batting averages at the moment they got their 3,000th hit their average for that season will have to do.  Derek Jeter's average would assume that he—like Roberto Clemente—will never play another game (which we know isn't true).

             

Ty Cobb

1921 0.389
Tris Speaker 1928 0.389
Eddie Collins 1926 0.346
Paul Molitor 1996 0.341
Tony Gwynn 1999 0.338
Stan Musial 1958 0.337
Eddie Murray 1996 0.323
Roberto Clemente 1972 0.312
Lou Brock 1979 0.304
Pete Rose 1978 0.302
Wade Boggs 1999 0.301
Hank Aaron 1970 0.298
Willie Mays 1970 0.291
Cap Anson 1897 0.285
George Brett 1992 0.285
Rod Carew 1985 0.28
Dave Winfield 1993 0.271
Carl Yastrzemski 1970 0.27
Derek Jeter 2011 0.27
Rafael Palmeiro 2005 0.266
Robin Yount 1992 0.264
Al Kaline 1974 0.262
Nap Lajoie 1914 0.258
Paul Waner 1942 0.258
Cal Ripken Jr. 2000 0.256
Honus Wagner 1914 0.252
Craig Biggio 2007 0.251
Rickey Henderson 2001 0.227

You can clearly see here that while Derek Jeter is not the best hitter at this point in his career, that honor goes to the venerable Ty Cobb, he is by no means nearly the worst. 

His batting average of .270 after the game in which he reached 3,000 plants him slightly below the middle of the pack at number 19.  This seems far less than stellar, I know.  However, look at a couple of those names that are below him on that list and some of those names above him. 

Derek is a great hitter and a great player but is he Tony Gwynn or Hank Aaron?  Actually, to be fair he is tied at 18 with the great Yaz himself.  He is certainly not Rickey Henderson who reaches this list simply through longevity. 

Someone told me Henderson is still playing in Independent ball at age 52.

To take it a step further, in 2010, Derek Jeter was among the most solid shortstops in the American League committing only six errors in 553 chances.  I don't know if that qualifies him as a gold glove but it does place him firmly in the top five defensively.  Offensively you say?  Jeter was sixth among AL shortstops in home runs, fourth in RBIs, third in batting and second in OBP. 

While I understand this is not a comprehensive amount of research and by no means serves to prove Jeter is the best Yankee of all time, which has been asserted elsewhere.  It should serve to show that he is by no means deserving of the criticism he has and continues to receive about his skills and production.

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