And, just like that, he was gone. Well, nearly gone, anyway. One of the most important New York Yankees has announced he will retire at the end of this coming 2014 season. No, don‘t start celebrating, New Yorkers, sadly the wrong guy, as far as the Yankees and their fans are concerned anyway, is retiring. Derek Jeter is leaving professional ball come season end, not Alex Rodriguez. The Former’s departure is being greeted with fawning eulogies, the latter would have been drummed out of town accompanied by a raucous marching band.
This writer is a Sox fan, and as such Jeter has been an ever invading Imperial Army to the often vulnerable Red Sox Rebel Alliance base at Hoth. Jeter has plagued the Red Sox with countless big hits, often game winning, and he dove into the stands the night Nomar sulked (every single Red Sox fan knows exactly what that means).
Because of his incredible durability over the years, almost every single team in Major League Baseball has fans traumatized and victimized by Derek Jeter clutch hits.
Jeter, the son of an Irish American woman, from New Jersey, has a solid legacy, and he will be a first ballot Hall Of Fame entrant, and he will be correctly celebrated when the time comes. His achievements speak for themselves.
5 times World Series champion (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009). World Series MVP in 2000. The Babe Ruth Award (2000), 13 MLB All-Star appearances (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). 2 time AL Hank Aaron Award (2006, 2009) and 5 time Silver Slugger Award (2006–2009, 2012). The AL Rookie of the Year (1996), the Roberto Clemente Award (2009) the 3,000 hit club and many, many more.
Finally, as we will discuss shortly, 5 time Rawlings Gold Glove Award (2004–2006, 2009–2010).
The fact is, however, that his retirement will probably be a good thing long term for the Yankees, and a bad thing for everyone else. You may not want to say that directly to a New York fan’s face, however the more forward-thinking of same will have already considered this possibility. Sure, they are probably sad that Jeter is retiring, however they will have considered a couple of things.
Firstly, Jeter is basically eating up a lot of salary room right now. $9 million for a 39 year old shortstop with bad knees? Speaking of knees, second, Jeter is basically pretty badly banged up. He played in only 17 games last season. Third, the once-great clutch hitter is no longer knocking out the big base hits. The game winners are thin on the ground, the big blasts are short in number.
Finally, don’t let those 5 Gold Gloves fool you. Jeter has always been a decidely below average defensive Shortstop. He makes the occasional flashy play, ‘the flip’ being an obviously great baseball moment.
However, his day-to-day range at short is absolutely abysmal. This is not a breaking news item. There is a joke in baseball that goes;
"What do you call a slow roller to Derek Jeter's left?"
"Single up the middle!"
Derek 'by the dive of' Jeter is not a good Major League shortstop. He is, statistically, a bad player at that position. His defensive statistics are below average, or, in layman's terms, bad. Pretty much everyone knows this, the facts are there for all to see.
Even New York’s fans have their doubts about their captains defensive abilities.
''Jeter was the best SS in the game last year, when considering the whole package. Defensively though, he's no better than average, probably a bit below average, and in past years has been way below average.''
- from nyyfans.com
The evidence against Jeter's ridiculous status as a Gold Glove shortstop is almost overwhelming, unless you simply stick your head in the sand emu style to avoid it like the guys in Fox, ESPN and YES. The book The Fielding Bible by John Dewan contains an essay by Bill James which analyzes the available evidence and suggests that Derek Jeter could be the worst defensive shortstop of all time. He concludes, "Giving [Jeter] every possible break on the unknowns, he is still going to emerge as a below average defensive shortstop." That isn't the only source on record with that opinion. The conclusion of the analysis done by 'Baseball Info Solutions', was that Derek Jeter "was probably the most ineffective defensive player in the major leagues, at any position."
Where does all that leave us? How do you define the legacy of Derek Jeter?
Perhaps we could sum it up as this; Derek Jeter will be looked back on as a Hall Of Fame Major League hitter who covered up his defensive deficiencies by providing some of the biggest clutch hits in New York Yankee history. He will be looked back on primarily as a winner, with World Series rings, MVP awards and a host of other accolades.
That, coming from a Red Sox fan, is not a bad legacy.