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Derek Jeter will go in to the Hall of Fame. As an icon of the age, fame defines him. His merits as a ballplayer are not quite so clear-cut.

2004 was an interesting year for Jeter. He started off colder than an iceberg, but heated up with the warm weather to finish with a fine .292/.352/.471 line. More controversially, he was awarded his first Gold Glove. His defensive statistics were better in 2004 than previously, but still below average.

Derek Jeter was the Yankees’ first round draft pick in 1992, and the sixth overall selection that year. He had just turned 18. He hit very poorly in rookie ball the remainder of that year. In 1993, he hit well in low A, and in 1994, he was the talk of baseball, as he blew through high A, double A and triple A, hitting .329, .377 and .349 with good plate discipline. For good measure he stole 50 bases and was caught only 8 times. The Yanks gave him another year of ball in triple A in 1995 before he was called up for good in 1996. He immediately was a .300 hitter in the majors with good plate discipline and some power. He improved gently in all spheres, reaching his peak at age 25 in 1999 when he hit .349/.438/.552. He has not approached those marks since. He has however improved his stolen base efficiency considerably as he has aged, posting a sweet 115/19 success rate over the last 5 years.

There is no question that Jeter has been a very good offensive shortstop. For his chart, I’ve included Bernie Williams, as I’ll be comparing the contributions that Jeter and Williams made to the Yanks 1996-2000 World Series champions. Here’s the chart:

Player         G     AB     H    HR     W     BA    OBP   SLUG   OPS+
Jeter 1366 5513 1734 150 559 .315 .385 .463 121
Trammell 1568 5694 1650 133 594 .290 .356 .424 114
Nomar 1029 4133 1330 182 295 .322 .370 .549 133
Banks 1216 4670 1355 298 452 .290 .353 .552 138
Stephens 1412 5481 1588 224 598 .290 .360 .474 124
Cronin 1363 5108 1539 80 653 .301 .383 .453 114
Vaughan 1539 5763 1846 86 829 .329 .410 .460 138
Bernie 1096 4296 1298 151 595 .304 .389 .487 130


Looking closer at the Jeter/Garciaparra comparison, Jeter gets on base more, whereas Garciaparra has hit for more power in his career. OPS+ attaches too much weight to power, so I calculated their career GPA+. Jeter’s is 111; Garciaparra’s is 115. It’s fair to say that Jeter fits at the high end of the Cronin/Trammell/Stephens/Garciaparra range of offensive shortstops, taking into account his batting skill and much better than average speed.

One cannot talk about Jeter without forming an opinion about his defence and his contributions to the great Yankee ballclubs.

Defence

Prior to 2004, the analytical community was united on one thing. Derek Jeter was a below average defensive shortstop. While he had a fine arm, his range up the middle was very poor and he had difficulty turning the double play. There were differences about how bad he was, some describing him as terrible and others as merely below average. Mike Emeigh, who did an extensive play-by-play analysis of Jeter’s work, had the more charitable view.

Mike Emeigh's 2003 Primer article with comments from MGL and Tangotiger summarizes the various analysts' views of Jeter's defence from 1999-2003. Similar statistical views can be found here.

I checked Jeter’s zone ratings when he came into the league in 1996-97. They were consistently 5% below league average; Jeter converted roughly 10 fewer balls within the zone into outs than the average shortstop during a season.

Derek Jeter won the Gold Glove in 2004. His defensive statistics, courtesy of espn.com, did improve. His zone rating, which had been the worst in the league among regulars every year between 2001-2003, was league average. Instead of turning a double play every 20 innings, as he had from 2001-2003, he turned one every 14 innings. He led the league’s shortstops in putouts, rather than having a below average number. He still had a below average number of assists.

In 2004, a number of changes occurred to the Yankees’ pitching and defence that might affect Jeter’s statistics. He had a new second baseman, Miguel Cairo (in place of the defensively challenged Alfonso Soriano), and a new third baseman, Alex Rodriguez. Kevin Brown, an extreme groundballer, joined the rotation in place of Roger Clemens.

My own opinion is that Mike Emeigh’s view was correct. Jeter was, and is, a below average defensive shortstop, but not a terrible one. It seems likely that part, but not all, of his inability to turn double plays prior to 2004 resulted from Soriano’s deficiencies. His relative strength in throwing out runners from the hole is outweighed by his complete inability on balls up the middle.

Jeter and the 96-00 Yankees

It is a fact that the Yankees’ run of World Championships coincided with Jeter’s arrival in the majors, but it is certainly possible to overstate his importance. In 1994, the Yankees had the best record in the American League when the strike occurred in August. In 1995, they went 79-65 in the shortened season, and made the post-season as the wild card.

The 1996 ballclub went 92-70 with a Pythagorean 88-72 record. Jeter’s arrival was one of several pieces of good news on that club; other pieces were Mariano Rivera’s fabulous season setting up for John Wetteland, Bernie Williams’ jump forward at age 27, and the arrival of Andy Pettitte. Jeter ran up a fine .314/.370/.430 batting line, but he was 4th on the team in on-base percentage, and 6th in slugging. For comparison, Williams put up a .305/.391/.535 mark and played a fairly good centerfield at that stage in his career. Rivera’s line was utterly amazing- 107 IP, 73 H, 1 HR, 34W, 130K during the regular season, followed up by 14 almost as good innings in the post-season. I’d say that Jeter’s arrival played a significant role in the Yankees’ victory, but Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams were more important in the Yankees’ success.

The 1997 ballclub went 96-66 with a Pythagorean 100-62 record. Jeter was again very good at .291/.370/.405, but again he was the 4th or 5th best hitter on the club. Bernie Williams went .328/.408/.535, for comparison purposes. The 1998 ballclub was dominant going 114-48 with a Pythagorean 108-54 record, and losing only 2 games on the way to a World Championship. Jeter improved to .324/.384/.481, again behind Williams’ .339/.422/.575. Jorge Posada took over the bulk of the catching in this year, and made significant offensive and defensive contributions.

In 1999, the club coasted to a 99-64 record, and then went through the post-season losing only 1 game. Jeter was, for the first and only time, the best hitter on the club, with his .349/.437/.552 line, narrowly edging Williams’ .342/.435/.536. It is possible to argue that Jeter was the most valuable Yankee during this year, although Williams and Rivera have cases too. The 2000 club went only 87-74, but prevailed in the post-season in hard-fought series. Jeter, who hit .339/.416/.481, Williams and Posada had fairly similar offensive seasons, with Posada’s being the best.

Summing up, I’d say that there were 5 important pieces in the Yankees’ championship run- Williams, Rivera, Jeter, Pettitte and Posada. Somehow it has become commonplace to suggest that Jeter was more important than Williams or Rivera in the run; I cannot agree with that suggestion. He was in my view an important piece, but not the most important.

Putting it all together

Derek Jeter is, according to Baseball Reference, most comparable to Alan Trammell. It is not a bad comparison. Jeter is somewhat superior offensively and Trammell somewhat superior defensively. I’d say that it is pretty close overall. It is also true that both players emerged with other stars on their teams (Trammell had Gibson, Whitaker and Jack Morris accompanying him on the fine Tiger teams of the 80s). The major difference between their two clubs was the Yankees’ ability to acquire the secondary talent to accompany their stars, which led to more consistent triumphs.

Logic would indicate that Jeter will fare better in his 30s than Trammell (who had only 3 good seasons after 30). Jeter is a better hitter, and position change is a more viable option for Jeter than it was for Trammell. On the other hand, Jeter’s fame and ego prevented a position change when the younger and better A-Rod arrived in New York in 2004, and there is little indication that this will change any time soon.

Still, I have argued that Trammell belongs in the Hall of Fame, and if he does, then so too does Jeter, assuming that his career follows an average path from here.

For the Green projection method on a rainy day, we have leek and potato soup- clean and saute 9 leeks until soft, but not brown, add 2 diced potatoes 4 cups vegetable stock, add pepper and caraway, simmer for ˝ hour, puree, and then add 1 cup of half-and-half. Inhale and pronounce:

Derek Jeter’s final career statistics: 2350 games, 3015 hits, 280 homers, .297/.365/.426.

Next up: Barry Larkin
Hall Watch 2004-The Shortstops-Derek Jeter | 36 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Mick - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 04:10 PM EST (#5743) #
Oddly, I think your first sentence is the conclusion -- Jeter will get in the HOF, Bernie won't, Rivera might depending on other closers (his mystique has worn thin in recent years and he might be going the Gossage route).

I'm looking forward to the Larkin analysis. I was organizing some baseball cards over the weekend and found myself wondering, "In a few years, will Larkin be the best eligible shortstop not in the hall? (Probably not -- Trammell) And will Larkin be the best former Cincinnati shortstop not in the hall? (Probably, but I'm a big Dave Concepcion fan, so you make the call.)
Mike Green - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 04:38 PM EST (#5744) #
Mick, I don't disagree about the prospects of Jeter, Bernie and Rivera, although we might differ about their Hall-worthiness (Bernie is, in my view, a perfectly viable Hall candidate, and in essence about as good a ballplayer as Jeter).

I won't keep a secret from you. I hadn't fully appreciated how good Larkin has been. Here are his BR comparables. As you can see, Trammell is the closest, and Barry is a little better at everything. Measuring their defensive ability is going to be one of my tasks. I haven't analyzed the issue, but my guess is that Bill Dahlen was better than either and is the best shortstop not in the Hall of Fame.
_Lefty - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 05:00 PM EST (#5745) #
Thanks for the recipe Mike. Sounds delightful after to much turkey noodle.
_Niles - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 05:02 PM EST (#5746) #
I think both Larkin and Rivera will both get in.

Larkin has a Puckett like appeal (pre molestation charges) and also has a WS title and an MVP award.

Rivera might even be a potential first ballot candidate, given he is the greatest closer of his era and the greatest post-season reliever ever.
_Mick - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 05:28 PM EST (#5747) #
Oh, I agree with both Mike and Niles that Rivera and Williams are viable Hall candidates, it's just that Jeter is the only "lock" of the three. The enduring photographic memories of Jeter will be diving into the stands, the little option pass throw to get Little G at the plate, all positives. Rivera was on the mound for what Buster Olney has called "the last night of the Yankees' Dynasty," and that little flare off LuGo's bat is always shown over Rivera's shoulder; just; he was also on the mound for at least one of the major meltdowns against the Red Sox comeback, so you know THAT will get played ad infinitum.

I'm just saying, Rivera was never demonstrably more feared than Gossage in his era, and Goose isn't exactly close to getting in.
_Keith Talent - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 06:54 PM EST (#5748) #
Larkin has a Puckett like appeal (pre molestation charges)

To me, Sports Illustrated lost credibility when they smeared Puckett for charges that were later dropped, allegations later proved false. They went Woodward & Bernstein on him and he didn't deserve it. He's a human being who did his best to be a role model.
Mike D - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 07:10 PM EST (#5749) #
Well done, Mike Green. Imagine -- an objective and fair analysis of Derek Jeter's career!
Mike Green - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 07:21 PM EST (#5750) #
You're welcome, Lefty, for the recipe. As the vegetable stock simmers and Buddy Guy plays on the CD player, all is right with my little piece of the world.

Thanks, Mike D. I didn't give enough credit in the piece to Mike Emeigh who did the heavy lifting on the topic of Jeter's defence. For Larkin, I'm pretty much on my own.
_Magpie - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 07:57 PM EST (#5751) #
At this point, I think both Jeter and Rivera have Mystique and Aura on their side - and there's nothing wrong with that. One would think that the great players on a great team should be in the HoF, and obviously the 1996-2000 Yankees were a great team. They should be generously represented. I think Jeter, Rivera, and Williams should be in for sure and there are other guys still working on their resumes.

Bernie's mystique is fading a little, largely because there's a guy in New York wearing #51 right now who looks just like him, but doesn't seem to be a great player. But Williams has probably been a better player than Kirby Puckett. (And of course Puckett's career was ended before the Decline Phase really set in.)

Jeter and Trammell really are quite similar as offensive players - they are the same type of hitter. Jeter has two things going for him. I think he's been a little better than Trammell - not much, just a little, and the very different offensive contexts of their times could easily make me change my mind. However Jeter, so far, has been a much more consistent offensive player. Trammell had about a six year run as an excellent hitter, from ages 25-30. Whereas Jeter has basically had one of Alan Trammell's good seasons every year of his career, except for the one year when he was even better than that.
In Trammell's five years before and seven years after his peak period he was up and down and often pretty ordinary.

Its possible that the lingering memory of those final seasons has hurt Trammell's HoF chances. It shouldn't. He wasn't quite as good as Larkin, but he and Jeter were (and Jeter still is) better ballplayers than lots and lots of HoF shortstops.

Two things about Jeter's defense, both of which I've said before: 1) I think the bar has been raised a little bit. Jeter doesn't compare as well defensively to the other guys playing shortstop in the AL during his time. But I think if he'd played in the NL when teams were using Hubie Brooks and Howard Johnson he might look a little better; 2) I think he should have been a centre fielder from Day One anyway - his one specific defensive weakness has always seemed to be the ball hit on the ground, especially to his left. Which is a pretty big deal for a shortstop. Whereas the one thing he appears to do very, very well on defense is play the ball hit in the air. And not just in Fenway on nationally televised games...

But when he arrived, Williams was well established in CF and the Yankees had a big hole at SS (Tony Fernandez played there, and not all that well, in 1995 - Tony then missed all of 1996 with an injury.) So he stepped right in.

Rivera was never demonstrably more feared than Gossage

I agree with that in one sense - nobody was feared like Gossage. Goose had a lot of that Nolan Ryan mystique going for him. He wasn't just going to beat you, he was going to make you look really really silly. Or possibly hurt you.

The strange thing about Rivera's post-season failures - and you're right, Mick, we remember each of them in vivid detail - but I think one of the reasons for that is a) they came as such shocking surprises, and b) there have been so few of them. And it didn't seem to hurt Eckersley - what do we remember about Eck in the post-season? Kirk Gibson and Roberto Alomar.

Rivera has pitched in 70 post-season games (which is pretty incredible itself) and he's 8-1 with 32 saves in 36 Save Opps and an ERA of 0.75. I mean... GOSH!
Pistol - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 08:22 PM EST (#5752) #
I think Rivera rightfully earns bonus points for his playoff performances - as noted, they're quite dominating, and in a lot of cases were as pressure packed as you can get.

Jeter on the other hand puts up just about the same line in the regular season as he does in the playoffs, but is made out to be Mr. Clutch.
Mike Green - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 08:55 PM EST (#5753) #
Maybe I'm biased about Gossage, but I watched him and wasn't blown away as many others were. Brett's homer off him in the 1980 playoffs is my one called shot of any significance. I was positive that Gossage would throw him fastballs, and I was quite sure that Brett could handle him.

Give me Mariano Rivera on the mound at age 29 or 30 and put any of the best hitters of the day to face him- Bonds, Pujols, A-Rod. I'd rather that than Gossage vs. Brett. But then, the 98 mph fastball has never struck me as the be-all and end-all of pitching.
_Grimlock - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 09:19 PM EST (#5754) #
Jeter on the other hand puts up just about the same line in the regular season as he does in the playoffs, but is made out to be Mr. Clutch.

Me Grimlock not a fan of Jeter, but the post-season has better pitching, so the same line would be an indication of clutchness...
_Harry LeRoy - Sunday, January 02 2005 @ 11:56 PM EST (#5755) #
I guess this is incredibly off topic, but its late and I wanna ask anyways: Will Curt schilling make the Hall?

Curt's is the career path less traveled, he is a late bloomer who has become greater with age.

It is easy to pass him off by mentioning that he is a mear 184-123 life time. That figure probably might stop a few from considering him at first but beyond that he is in good shape.

There is reason to belive he is in the 'good books' of two distinct baseball camps: Stat Heads and Sports radio hosts ( and the writers of each elk)

As far as the notoriosly subjective radio call in hosts go he fits the discription of there poster boy: Regardless of stats he's a 'winner'. He went to the Diamondbacks to win a championchip and he did. He is a world series MVP. A few years later he went to a Redsox team that had not won in 86 years for only one reason: to win. He pitched with a bleeding ankle in one of the 'gutsiest' performances ever in game 6 then pitched well again in the WS. What more could a subjective analyst ask for?

As for the stat heads, they might be trickier to win over because of the low win total and the lack of a Cy young. The main argument the can be made from that perspective is the 4 Bill James HOF monitors and standards. At Baseball Reference we see Schilling fairs remarkably well. He is above average or at the standard in all but one and has a great shot to meet the last standard baring an injury. This give me the impression that all things eaqual he would probably been much closer to the 300 win mark had he not played on a the very crumby phil for a while. As for the lack of a Cy Young, it would be ridiculous to say he has never had a 'Cy young type year' or been a dominant pitcher. On the contrary, I would say he has had 6 top caliber years: 1992, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, and 2004. For these reasons I believe he deserves to be a Hall of famer, wether he gets in or not will be interesting.
_Tyler - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 12:05 AM EST (#5756) #
the writers of each elk

And the grammar reaches a hilarious new low.
_Mick - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 12:24 AM EST (#5757) #
Tyler, it was indeed a funny line, but no need to take whacks at writing errors in the online world -- it's a hopeless case, anyway, and I know I have personally sworn off it after being reamed for it, even when doing it good-naturedly (I thought).

Incidentally, and I point this out ironically, if you want to humiliate someone publicly, be sure to get the label right. Take it from the old college English teacher; spelling errors are not considered grammar errors; and in fact, "elk" for "ilk" is neither ... incorrect words, including homonymes or similar words like this case, are "usage" errors. Yep, spelling, mechanics, usage and grammar ("SMUG") are separate categories, lingquistically. So, again ironically, your choice of the word "grammar" was a usage error itself!

Thus endeth today's Incredibly Boring and SMUG Language Lesson (tm). Tomorrow: Our Friend, the Semi-Colon!
_Mick - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 12:26 AM EST (#5758) #
While typographical errors (like "homonymes") is still a fourth category entirely.
_Tyler - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 12:55 AM EST (#5759) #
Take it from the old college English teacher; spelling errors are not considered grammar errors; and in fact, "elk" for "ilk" is neither ... incorrect words, including homonymes or similar words like this case, are "usage" errors.

Why must there always be someone even more pedantic than myself?

I don't usually jump at this stuff Mick-I make enough typos-but that was such a hilariously unique error that I couldn't resist. Writers of each elk? The mental images...
_Tyler - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 12:56 AM EST (#5760) #
Why must there always be someone even more pedantic than myself?

Should that be me instead of myself? Mick?
_Mick - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 01:01 AM EST (#5761) #
Why must there always be someone even more pedantic than myself?

Exactly the point of my labeling it "ironic," Tyler.
_Nolan - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 04:06 AM EST (#5762) #
If Hal Newhouser, Bob Lemon, Don Drysdale, Jesse Haines, Chief Bender, Stan Coveleski, Jim Bunning and Catfish Hunter are all in the HoF, then Schilling certainly should be as well.

He will end up with about the same number of wins as the above players (200 to 230 range) and shines in the other categories as well.

Schilling has over 2700 SO and will prbably break 3000 before his career is over, placing him around 12th all-time.

In SO/9IP, Schilling ranks 8th all-time ahead of pitchers like Lee Smith, Roger Clemens, J.R. Richards, and Bob Gibson. He also ranks 26th in (BB + H)/9IP.

He has a 131 ERA+, while the players mentioned in the first paragraph are all significantly below that mark (except Newhouser). Also below Schilling in ERA+ are great pitchers like Bob Gibson, Dizzy Dean, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Bob Feller, and Jaun Marichel.

In my opinion he is a first ballot HoF, just a notch below Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux, but a ways ahead of pitchers like Jimmy Key, Dave Stieb, David Cone and Jack Morris (these guys have a chance at the Hall, but not much).
_Magpie - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 07:47 AM EST (#5763) #
http://www.battersbox.ca/archives/00002531.shtml#comments_320
And the grammar reaches a hilarious new low.

A new low? Hmmm. On October 18 2004, I posted the following:

That was a crucial SB, and its worth having someone on your bitch who can get you one in an emergency.COMN, Comment 99

So a little respect, please. I have a George Costanza-like pride in that one. ("For I am Costanza, Lord of the Idiots")
_Magpie - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 08:16 AM EST (#5764) #
It's like Found Comedy.

There should be an anthology...
_Mick - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 08:54 AM EST (#5765) #
If Hal Newhouser, Bob Lemon, Don Drysdale, Jesse Haines, Chief Bender, Stan Coveleski, Jim Bunning and Catfish Hunter are all in the HoF, then Schilling certainly should be as well.

The problem with this argument is that there are lots of people in the HOF who probably shouldn't be, meaning we can't just use the worst player in the HOF as the benchmark or else it will soon be overstuffed and be "The Hall of the Pretty Good." Using much more eloquent language, Bill James addresses this in The Politics of Glory.

In SO/9IP, Schilling ranks 8th all-time ahead of pitchers like Lee Smith, Roger Clemens, J.R. Richards, and Bob Gibson.

Half of your examples (Smith and Richard, no "s") are not in the HOF and don't appear likely to get in, though I personally think Smith should be.

Without looking at any numbers, it seems to me Dean is a pretty good comparable, a great pitcher with post-season success whose counting stats will fall short of many others, in Dean's case, due to injury.

Schilling is (very) borderline but I suspect will get in for the same reason Jeter will -- to get this back on thread topic! -- he sort of deserves it and he's a media darling for his post-season exploits and the bloody sock Holy Grail image. Besides, rabid, manic Red Sox fans would storm Cooperstown and burn it down if he didn't get in, so there's that fear factor among voters who will be afraid their home addresses might get out.
_groove - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 09:25 AM EST (#5766) #
If Schilling were to retire today, he should make the Hall of Fame because of .. well.. his fame. Same thing for Jeter. But I think a long decline period would only hurt the Schillster, as it would make his rate stats drop and he wouldn't be able to amass the counting stats of his peers.
_Mick - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 01:42 PM EST (#5767) #
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=neel/050103
Eric Neel and David Schoenfield present the best overall summary of anti-'80's bias in HOF voting I've seen yet. COMN.
_Nolan - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 01:49 PM EST (#5768) #
Half of your examples (Smith and Richard, no "s") are not in the HOF and don't appear likely to get in, though I personally think Smith should be.

Yeah, I should have clarified that I picked those guys because they are well known as strikeout machines.

If Hal Newhouser, Bob Lemon, Don Drysdale, Jesse Haines, Chief Bender, Stan Coveleski, Jim Bunning and Catfish Hunter are all in the HoF, then Schilling certainly should be as well.

The problem with this argument is that there are lots of people in the HOF who probably shouldn't be, meaning we can't just use the worst player in the HOF as the benchmark or else it will soon be overstuffed and be "The Hall of the Pretty Good." Using much more eloquent language, Bill James addresses this in The Politics of Glory.


I realize that this is true- I don't want to see another Rabbit Maranville in the Hall...Mark Belanger might be his closest comparison- but those pitchers were all considered as some of the best of their eras. Now I realize that some of them would fit snugly into the "Hall of the Pretty Good," but I believe that Schilling is a notch above their level.

I personally believe that someone who is considered one of the dominate players of a time period, should get in and Schilling makes that list IMHO. Along with Pedro, Clemens, Randy Johnson, Maddux, and Glavine.

In fact, if Dave Steib had had just a little more longevity, 2 or 3 more good years, I'd say he was a Hall candidate too. Ah, but this is just one (most likely misinformed) fans opinion.

to get this back on thread topic!

Yeah, sorry about that. I too believe that Jeter will get into the HoF, but I also think that he deserves it. I think that Jeter is easily in the top 15 shortstops of all-time, and that deserves a HoF berth.
Mike Green - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 04:55 PM EST (#5769) #
I think that Jeter is easily in the top 15 shortstops of all-time, and that deserves a HoF berth.

Well, Jeter is 30, and if you try to name shortstops who have had clearly better careers than him in their 20s, it is a very short list. Honus Wagner is questionable because he was a third baseman until his late 20s. Arky Vaughan clearly did. Ernie Banks. Cal Ripken Jr. A-Rod will. Lou Boudreau was obviously better as well.

After that, you can make cases for Nomar, Bill Dahlen, Trammell, Cronin and Yount maybe. And that's pretty much it, unless you take the view that Jeter's defence was so horrid that most of his offensive value was negated.
Mike Green - Monday, January 03 2005 @ 05:05 PM EST (#5770) #
Oh yeah, I forgot Vern Stephens. He was probably better than Jeter in his 20s. Don't ask about Stephens' 30s; Pete Townshend obviously had Vern in mind when he wrote "hope I die before I get old".
_Kevin Pataky - Tuesday, January 04 2005 @ 11:56 AM EST (#5771) #
Anyone who doesn't think Mariano Rivera is a "lock" for the Hall of Fame needs to have his head examined. Without him, the Yankees would have been luck to win one World Series from 1996-2000.
Mike Green - Tuesday, January 04 2005 @ 12:34 PM EST (#5772) #
Kevin, as you can see, I'm a big Rivera booster, but I wouldn't go quite that far. Contributions in the post-season are one important factor in HoF judgments, but at least as important are regular season contributions. There is a legitimate question about the extent of contributions made by relievers because of the relatively modest number of innings they pitch. This is particularly so of modern closers who pitch many "low-leverage" innings (ninth inning with 2 or 3 run leads). As far as I am concerned, Rivera is a Hall of Famer, but I'll simply agree to disagree with those who feel otherwise.
_Mick - Tuesday, January 04 2005 @ 12:47 PM EST (#5773) #
Following on that, I think Rivera SHOULD be a HOF, but given that Gossage and (to a lesser extent) Sutter aren't in yet, I have my doubts that Rivera will get in. Eckersly gives me hope.
_Kevin Pataky - Tuesday, January 04 2005 @ 03:29 PM EST (#5774) #
Rivera is a lock. Write it down. And I'll go one step further and say he'll do it on the first try as well. Aside from his post season success, he is the most dominant closer of his time. Eckersley made it in on his first try, and it wasn't for his prowess as a starter.
_David C - Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 12:59 PM EST (#5775) #
How is Rivera a lock, hardly? The guy is just starting the decline phase of his career and that will hurt all those great rate stats. Look around baseball and you will start to see a trend: a renewed love for the old 70's 'relief ace' but a distain for the 90's style 'closer'. By the time he's on the ballot there will be so many guys with similar numbers that he won't look so special anymore. I'd be highly surprised if any reliever other than Smoltz made it on the first few tries. Then again Smoltz has a very Eck like resume which will make him stand out.
_Peter - Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 05:54 PM EST (#5776) #
Rivera may be "starting the decline phase of his career" chronologically speaking, but his numbers last season were maybe the best of his career. 53/57 in saves with a 1.94.

I agree he doesn't seem invincible like he used to, but I also remember just last year what he did against the Sox. He held the best offense in baseball scoreless for three innings, allowing the Yanks to wait around until Boone hit that random home run.

Will he ever be as dominant as he once was? Probably not, but if this is his version of decline, I'll take it.
_G.T. - Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 06:14 PM EST (#5777) #
Probably not, but if this is his version of decline, I'll take it.

Nah, not when anyone can just get "free talent" like Juan Acevedo to be ther closer!
_David C - Thursday, January 06 2005 @ 02:03 PM EST (#5778) #
Well Baseball Prospectus just ran an article that pretty much shows Rivera as a slum dunk hall of famer. I guess I must have been blinded by Yankee hatred
Hall Watch 2004-The Shortstops-Derek Jeter | 36 comments | Create New Account
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