Monday February 17, 2014
Derek Jeter's Hits Parade: Where Will He Wind Up in the Record Book?
When it comes to WAR, Jeter's better on offense than defense.
So my arch-nemesis Derek Jeter is hanging up his spikes at the end of the 2014 season. I get the feeling I'll miss him. I get the feeling I'll feel about him the way I feel about former Yankee Paul O'Neill, whom I despised until he retired, then admitted he was one tough out. I still remember that 10-pitch walk O'Neill drew in the bottom of the 9th of Game 1 of the 2000 World Series when the Mets were up by a run. A lot of ones at that point: Game 1, one out, one run ahead for the Mets. But O'Neill kept fouling off pitches from Armando Benitez. He finally walked and eventually scored to tie the game on Chuck Knoblauch's sac fly. Derek Jeter, Mr. Clutch, followed with a strikeout to send the game into extras. The Yankees won in 12 and never looked back. And it all started with O'Neill.
I'm sure I'll feel this way about Jeter. Someday. Maybe.
Joe Posnanski had a good recent post on being overrated and underrated and how it applies to Derek Jeter. He suggests that while Jeter may have been overrated in getting press, and coverage, and girls, and being one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, all of this may have led to him being underrated in terms of, say, MVP honors, where he has none. An argument can be made.
An argument can also be made on where Jeter will wind up on the all-time leaderboard. That's what's most intrigued me since the retirement announcement.
Jeter is currently 10th on the all-time hits list with 3,316, and disaster would have to befall him if he didn't make ninth (Paul Molitor, 3,319). And if he went out with a bang and reached 200 hits again, as he did two years ago, he could wind up as high as fifth (Tris Speaker: 3514). But that's as high as he'll go. Stan the Man is currently fourth with 3,630. That's now unreachable.
Jeter is currently 15th in career at-bats with 10,614. Another 400 vaults him past Brooks Robinson, Paul Molitor, Craig Biggio, Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson, Stan Musial, and Dave Winfield, and all the way into seventh place (currently: Robin Yount with 11,008).
Runs scored? Currently 13th with 1,876. He needs another 74 to get into ninth place.
And that's about it in terms of top-10 possibilities. Jeter is 84th in batting average (.312), 161st in OBP (.381), 430th in slugging (.446). He's 38th in doubles (525), 190th in homeruns (256), 127th in RBIs (1,261), 112th in stolen bases (348). Hit by pitch? That's a bit higher: 17th with 164. One behind Kid Elberfeld. Maybe he should go out that way: in a blaze of glory.
And the negative stats? He's 18th in career strikeouts (1753); another 70 puts him at 13th. He's 19th in grounded into double plays (272), and had 24 in 2012. If he did something slmilar he could wind up in 12th place (Ted Simmons, 287).
His 94.1 Offensive WAR (Baseball Reference version) ranks 22nd all time, but his Defensive WAR (-9.2) isn't even in the top 1,000. Is it near the bottom? Both could go down, too. They went down last year. FWIW.
I guess the big question is whether Jeter can add to his postseason numbers. Because the extended playoffs began when Jeter began, and because he generally led off for a resurgent Yankees, he is the all-time postseason leader in games, at-bats, hits, runs, total bases and strikeouts. One hopes that's it. One hopes he's seen his last postseason game. The ankle one.
His impending retirement also means this: In 2015, we'll have new active leaders in most batting categories: games, at-bats, etc. If he's still playing, it'll be A-Rod. If he's not, it'll be Ichrio. Both are currently Yankees. Trivia: Who is the active leader in games, at-bats and hits who is not currently a Yankee? Would you believe him?