Via Joe Posnanski:
I think that in many ways Derek Jeter this year has added a third title. He has, against all odds, become UNDERRATED. And that is a wicked turn. I think Jeter at 35 is having one of his greatest seasons. I think he’s playing defense better than he ever has, he’s getting on base and slugging like he did in his prime, and in my view he has been the Yankees most valuable player in 2009. And, for once, it’s funny, I don’t hear too many other people talking about it.
He’s hitting .330 through Tuesday and has a .394 on-base percentage — tied with A-Rod for best on the Yankees. He’s on pace for 218 hits, 109 runs, 21 homers. 27 stolen bases. He’s having a great offensive season, quite similar to the season last year’s MVP, Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, had.
And — this is weird — those advanced statistics that have so universally mocked his defense now show him to be, well, darned good defensively. The Dewan Plus/Minus system — a video system where they plot every ball hit in play — had long shown him to consistently be the worst shortstop in baseball. Now, it has him as a plus-7 shortstop, a top-10 shortstop. Ultimate Zone Rating — UZR — which had shown him to be costing his team runs defensively every single year since 2002 now calculates that he has saved the Yankees almost six runs this year. Jeter has made it clear he doesn’t care about such statistics so it probably gives him no satisfaction.
Still, the numbers suggest that he’s playing shortstop better than he has in years. Two baseball insiders concur, saying that he positions himself better now than he ever did before and his already quick release has gotten even quicker. Plainly, not as many grounders are getting past a diving Jeter.
Yeah, but, Jeter is still a meanie to A-Rod, right? And, being a BFF to Alex is much more important than all this other stuff…