Looking at the leaders in Fielding Win Shares for AL SS this morning, this is what I saw:
1 J Uribe CHA 6.4
2 J Peralta CLE 5.7
3 J Lugo TB 5.0
4 D Jeter NYA 4.8
I was surprised to see Jeter so high – because the sabermetric crowd usually likes to kill Jeter’s defensive rep.
Last year, Rob Neyer of ESPN.comn called Jeter a “terrible” SS – twice in the span of days, once in print in his column and once in an ESPN News interview.
I never understood the “terrible” label.
Does Jeter have great range? No. His range, in my opinion, is somewhat limited – esp. going to his left.
Is he a terrible SS? No. A terrible SS would have been moved off SS by now. Tony Batista was moved. Chipper Jones was moved. Mike Lansing was moved. Mark Lewis was moved. Jose Offerman was moved. Wil Cordero was moved. Julio Franco was moved. In the big leagues, if you truly are a terrible SS, you will eventually be moved. Even a stupid team figures it out after a while. Jeter has not been moved, because he is not terrible with the glove at SS.
As a Yankees fan, at no point in time, over the last several seasons, has a ball been hit to Jeter at SS where I thought “Oh, no, why did you hit it to him?” – - the way one would think when balls were hit to the Jose Offerman or Wil Cordero types (when they were trying to play SS).
In fact, when a grounder is hit to Jeter, within normal range, my gut reaction and expectation is “that’s an out.” I have no fear whatsoever on a groundball to Jeter.
Further, in Baseball America’s recent 2005 Best Tools Survey, League Managers selected Derek Jeter as the AL’s “Best Defensive SS” – ahead of Miggy Tejada (at # 2) and Michael Young (at # 3).
So, the stats now favor Jeter, and are in line with those on the field. Therefore, is it now time for people to stop lamenting about Jeter’s glove work?