On Jeter

Allen Barra lays the lumber to Derek Jeter:

This will be Jeter’s 14th season (not counting 1995, when he only played 15 games), and judging from the blogs and radio call-in shows, Yankee fans are assuming that he is a walking Hall of Famer, but I don’t necessarily think that’s true. If he pulled a Thurmon Munson, I think he’d get in. His credentials are pretty good.

Jason, in turn, lays the lumber to Alan Barra:

Sorry, you cannot even suggest, in jest, that anyone “pulls a Thurman”. This is about as low as you can go, the hackiest of hacks. What sort of person would even consider this an option in a published piece? Second, you simply cannot spell Thurman’s name wrong. Inexcusable. How an editor can let either slide by? Maybe if Barra “pulls a Thurman”, he can win a Pulitzer.

And saying that Jeter’s credentials are merely “pretty good” is just an example of a writer trying to rearrange the facts to suit his angle. Jeter will be at 3k hits by the time he’s done, or darn close if he doesn’t feel like hanging around to reach that lofty total. And, by all accounts, he’s done it the right way (on all fronts, though we obviously are going on faith that he’s been clean). He’s won 4 World Series rings. I know I am more biased than most of you not in the metro NY area, but I think Jeter’s a lock, even without 3k hits.

I’m with Jason here. Barra is normally all aces, but I think the Munson comment — while maybe being something a bombthrower like me might write from time to time — is in poor taste and beneath Barra’s considerable stature. More importantly, I think Barra is crazy if he thinks that Jeter wouldn’t go into the Hall of Fame today absent a plane crash. Jason lays out his credentials nicely in his post. Jeter is no Steve Garvey (i.e. a guy everyone thinks is a Hall of Famer while he’s playing only to reconsider years later). He’s an elite historical talent at his positon for the league’s marquee team, and the fact that he owns four World Series rings and an enormous — even if outsized — reputation as a leader and a winner doesn’t hurt his cause.

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  1. kendynamo said...

    ooh, i must be really bad then because i laughed at the pulling a munson phrase.  maybe i’m just associating it with the movie Kingpin.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    I’m the last guy who can complain about that kind of comment and don’t want to make too much of it, but it’s just not the kind of thing I expect from Barra.

  3. Richard in Dallas said...


    I happen to think that despite the numbers being very good, Jeter is WAY over rated.  Especially by the unclean masses that live in and around the Bronx.  Keep in mind that just two or three years ago, MLB players surveyed rated him the most over rated palyer in the game.  Players know other players.  I agree with them.  Just as a side note, Michael Young was named the most UNDER rated player.  Do you think that maybe the size of the media market in question has something to do with the country’s perception?

  4. kendynamo said...

    totally understand, its all about context and perspective.  for a new york baseball writer, i would think thats a big no no.  pretty obvious too.  so definitely wasnt accusing anyone for being over sensitive or anything.

  5. pete said...

    Throw out the rings, the fact that he plays in New York, the leadership stuff, the fact that he’s a nice guy…all of which should (ideally) have a minimal impact on his HoF case.

    Even if you just go by the individual numbers, you’d basically have to go to the Jeff Kent argument, where Jeter gets no credit for playing SS, to make a real case against him making it in the Hall of Fame. While Jeter was probably never a great defensive shortstop, I really doubt you could make that case convincingly.

  6. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Richard—I think Jeter’s been overrated too, but that’s just because there’s a subset of writers/fans out there who have described him like he was a cross between Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, George Patton, and Cary Grant.  He’s not the best player of all time, he’s not the greatest shortstop of all time, and he’s certainly a below-average defender and has been for a while.

    But even when you discount for the hype, the dude is still a Hall of Famer, and I’m surprised Barra thinks otherwise.

  7. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    Richard in Dallas, here’s the quote from that “poll”, via the Daily News:

    In a Sports Illustrated survey of 495 Major League Baseball players in its June 23rd issue, Jeter was voted the most overrated player in the game, grabbing 10 percent of the vote. Teammate Alex Rodriguez and Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew were tied for third in the poll, each with a seven percent share.
    Ironically, when SI asked MLB players, “Whom would you pick to build a team around?” in a separate survey last week, A-Rod ranked first and Jeter second “perhaps offering a slight contradiction”.

    Here’s the source: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2008/06/19/2008-06-19_sports_illustrated_players_poll_names_de-1.html

  8. tadthebad said...


    Players don’t know other players’ skill level any better than us here.  Proximity probably only clouds their judgement.  There are all sorts of instances that demonstrate this.  Heck, don’t players vote for GG awards? 

    Players know how to play, they don’t know how to evaluate.

  9. Aarcraft said...

    I think this is a classic case of “so overrated, its now underrated” thinking. Yes, he is not has good as some people think he is, but he doesn’t have to be to be a Hall of Famer. As to the question of will he get in, nothing will be able to stop him short of a PED revelation. His Hall of Famer Monitor Score is 238, placing him 25th all time. To put that in perspective, everyone eligible (and not roid ineligible) in the top 100 on that list is in except Mattingly and Belle at 98 and 99.

  10. Richard in Dallas said...


    I agree that he’s a no-brainer for the HOF, but not in the same breath as Ryan, Brett, Pojols, and the like.  As far as New Yorker’s go, I grew up there (a Mets Fan) and could not possibly agree more that as a group (not necessarily all-inclusive) New Yorkers have the most out of control superiority comlex in the nation.  Even back in the day of Jerry Kenney, Horace Clarke, George Theodore et al, ANY New Yorker would tell you how great their 4th place team was…..

  11. geraldy said...

    There’s a certain class of writers—e.g. Barra and Tim Marchman come immediately come to mind—who have become over-rated in the online, vaguely “sabermetric” community.  They are over-rated because they pay a moderate amount of attention to statistical analysis and because they are friendly with some members of the Prospectus crew and Rob Neyer.  Strip those things from them and it quickly becomes apparent that they are thoroughly mediocre old-time newspaper hacks. 

    I made the mistake of buying a book that Barra wrote a few years ago about great debates in sports and there was not a single memorable insight in the entire book. 

    On sheer grounds of pragmatism, you have to wonder why Barra would take a shot at Jeter when he is trying to promote a new book which has a natural audience of Yankee fans.  Of course the Berra biography has received rapturous reviews.

  12. Craig Calcaterra said...

    gerald—I’ll grant you that those of us in that general world of online writing tend to be a tad effusive—and occasionally down right homers—for the Marchmans, Barras, Posnanskis, etc. of the world.  We’ve talked about that a bit around here lately, but I, maybe more than anyone, need to be mindful of avoiding the circle jerk mentality.

    That said, I don’t think it takes being in a circle jerk to say that, on the whole, those guys do a great job.  They all offer clunkers like this one from time to time, and when they do we should call them out for it like we’d call anyone else out, but I’m not inclined to lump them in with the Plaschkes and Conlins and Lupicas of the world.

  13. geraldy said...

    I definitely would NOT include Posnanski (and Neyer) in that group.  Both of them have a tremendous grasp of baseball history, both explore sabermetric findings in a serious manner, and both are enormously talented writers.

    On the other hand, what do Marchman and Barra have to offer?  They report on analytic findings in a scattered, uninteresting way while holding on to typical newsprint sportswriter prejudices.  These are the same prejudices that lead to the proliferation of gratuitous cheap shots—exactly the kind of cheap shot that Barra takes at Jeter here.

  14. BillyBeaneismyHero said...

    “Pulling a Thurman Munson”.  Wow.  You stay classy Allan Barra.  There’s no way that media darling Derek Jeter isn’t getting into the Hall of Fame.  He’s put together a very good (albeit incredibly overrated) career for an offensive shortstop.  Let’s put it this way, if he can fool people into giving him not one, not two, but three Gold Gloves with his complete lack of range, he has to be in. 

    Jason – on what grounds are Derek Jeter’s four World Series rings relevant to his HOF case?  Sure, it sounds good, but it rings pretty hollow.  Luis Sojo won three.  Does that make him a HOF?  Ted Williams and Willie McCovey won zero.  Are their careers any less impressive from a HOF perspective?  I know that I’m nitpicking, but it’s something that’s always annoyed me.  The Yankees didn’t win because of Jeter.  They won because they had the best combination of 25 guys—and yes, Jeter happened to be one of them.  I believe that they would’ve been just as good (if not better) had Nomar or (gasp) A-Rod been their shortstop at the time.  They were at least his equal defensively, and were far superior offensive players.

  15. BillyBeaneismyHero said...

    Jason –

    Those SI polls are weird.  There was once an SI poll about Chicago, and who their favorite baseball teams were.  Cubs overwhelmingly led the voting.  The number two team was most surprising – St. Louis Cardinals.  The White Sox were number three.  I wish I’d kept that article, because no one believes me when I bring it up.

  16. Jason @ IIATMS said...


    If Schilling’s post-season triumphs are the nudge to get him while Blyleven sits at home, it’s perfectly fair to recognize Jeter’s role on 4 championship winning teams, including MVP of the 2000 WS.

    Whether Nomar was better isn’t material here, I don’t think.  Jeter was the starting SS on 4 WS winners and that’s gotta count somewhere.  Maybe it’s only a tiebreaker, but it’s gotta count on the ledger.  Somewhere.

  17. Matt S. said...

    Even though Jeter may be the most overrated player of this era, he is still a first ballot HoFer in any reasonable estimation. I think only a positive test for steroids would keep him out and I think that’s fair.

    I think Jason is wrong when though when he says New York fans aren’t blind to his flaws. I live in the city and I’m a Red Sox fan. Anytime I mention the FACT (it’s a fact) that Jeter is a lousy defensive player, Yankees fan roll their eyes and assume I’m just talking s*%t.

    No one seems to see just how selfish a player he is. He easily could have moved to second base in 2004 when the Yankees signed A-Rod but he didn’t. He’s let his hatred of a superior player hurt the Yankees for four years now. As it stands they have one of the worst up-the-middle defenses in the game backing two or three ground ball pitchers. His ego has done as much to keep the Yankees chasing the Red Sox as anyone, but no one ever mentions it. I guess as a Sox fan I should just keep my mouth shut and let it slide. Oh well

  18. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    Matt, I will meet you at a bar and we can agree about all of that.  As a Yanks fan.

    You’re buying; you’ve won 2 WS recently.

  19. YanksFan said...

    Well Matt, I’m a huge Yankees fan and I (along with everyone at River Ave. Blues) has no problem admitting he is below average, if not horrid sometimes, defensively. What I personally cannot stand is when Red Sox fans try to downplay any offensive contributions, leadership, etc… while calling him a horribly overrated player, not saying that you are now.

    He could have moved, but didn’t, and thats in the past. To say he “hates” A-Rod is not something that any of us would know without knowing either of them personally, everything you hear in the media is rumors. As for his ego, I think it’s pretty well deserved considering he has almost a full hand of WS rings.

  20. CarterHayes said...

    “If Schilling’s post-season triumphs are the nudge to get him while Blyleven sits at home, it’s perfectly fair to recognize Jeter’s role on 4 championship winning teams, including MVP of the 2000 WS.”

    If Schilling and Jeter get in based on their post-season records, then why shouldn’t Blyleven get in based on his?  I understand the arguments for Schilling and Jeter, but it’s not like they have exclusive rights to the post-season argument. Repetitions of this kind of reasoning just serve to reinforce the ignorance of Coastie fans.

  21. Matt S. said...

    Jason and Yanks Fan, I’m glad that some New York fans can see it too. Sometimes I start to thing I’m going crazy for not worship every thing Jeter does.

    Yanks fan- I would not downplay his offensive contribution and the intangible elements he brings. That is why he deserves to be a HoFer but in baseball in general, and in New York with almost no exception, Jeter made out to be the standard for the team-first mentality and he clearly puts himself first and hurts his every time he plays shortstop now. His ego IS justified by all that success, I just can’t stand hear that he doesn’t have one at all. It’s ridiculous.

  22. Joe Mills said...

    I hate the Yankees. Hate ‘em. Jeter is a Hall of Famer, first ballot. He’s got the Rings, the leadership, the hits, the runs scored …. and he’s got class.

    —Joe Mills

  23. Steve said...

    I can’t believe that Jeter’s HOF credentials are even being questioned.  As a long time Mets fan, I’ve always been envious of Jeter and as much as I love Jose Reyes as a player, I’d much rather have Jeter’s 14+ year career.  He goes in on four pillars, in my opinion:

    Awesome Runs and Hits numbers with a 0.316 lifetime AVG and a 0.387 lifetime OBP.  His power and speed have been adequate for a SS.  He’s also durable, with playing in under 148 games in a year only one full season.

    I know he’s been on great Yankee teams, but he’s been one of the cornerstones of all of those great teams.  Making the playoffs all but 1 (?) year in his career with a career 0.309 AVG in the playoffs… in 123 games he has 85 runs, 22 doubles, 17 homers, 49 rbi, and 16 steals… he does everything and shows up in the playoffs.

    9 time All-Star with a 0.474 average in 19 at bats.  Rookie of the Year.  Three time Gold Glove winner.  World Series MVP.  Placed in the top 10 of MVP voting 6 times.

    It has to count for something that he’s stayed on the same team his entire career, right?  It has to count for something that he plays for Team USA when given the chance, right?  It has to count for something when he plays for a hostile media driven center like NY, right?  Finally, when you compare him to his peers (Nomar, Tejada, A-Rod) I think he compares favorably (i.e. so far no steroid allegations, healthy, a winner.)

    One of my favorite stats on ‘active leaders’ page on MLB.com is this:  He is #15 in OBP.  The only other non-1B/OF on this list are Chipper and A-Rod.

  24. Carl said...

    Overrated is hardly the same as bad.  I have no problem with reconciling that Jeter is a HOF, probably first ballot and that he is overrated.  He’s not a baseball god – he’s just the best SS of his generation, a man who by many accounts was one of the leaders of a 4 time WS winning team, a clean player in an age of tainted ones and one who may well end up with 3000 hits.  But even if he falls short of 3000, he goes to the Hall.  He may not make it to 3000 – he’s 34, and the HOF-caliber MI of recent vintage have all been in serious decline at this age, except Kent and arguably Trammell (Sandberg, Ripken, Yount, Alomar, Biggio)

    And he’s overrated – his SS defense has never been as good as his press, his not moving off SS when a better player came to town was tremendously selfish and if he was such a great leader, how come so many Yankee teams recently have been bounced in the first round of the playoffs?  (btw – why does ARod never get any credit for volunteering to move over to 3rd and cutting any controversy off at the kness?)

  25. Beanster said...

    Stop the presses!  Just saw this breaking headline on Yahoo: “Yankees’ Jeter OK after bruising pinkie”

    I say he’s in on 1st ballot…

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