Derek Jeter: Hall of Famer?
Derek Jeter Effect
Derek Jeter is one of the most prolific players in Major League Baseball. He's captain of one of the most prestigious teams in the game, the New York Yankees. However, does prestige alone justify a player’s eligibility into the Hall of Fame?
I would dare say that the majority of MLB fans would answer "yes" without batting an eye. I partially don't blame them. Hell, Jeter's nickname is "Mr. November" for crying out loud! When it comes to pressure situations, Jeter may very well be the first name that comes to mind. He is the very definition of clutch. Furthermore, Jeter has 5 World Series championships (including a World Series MVP). Also, he is the winner of 4 golden glove awards and has a career batting average of over 300.
With all that said, I still question his legitimacy into the Hall of Fame. From my observation, many baseball fans believe he is a first ballot Hall of Famer due to his post season performances. I'm not blaming them. I think that's how most people do it. But sometimes memories can be deceiving. Sometimes fans, myself included, have a narrow view of something based on limited exposure. In Jeter's case, they may only remember a few great moments, and those moments alone may cloud their judgement. The following is a list of reasons why I believe Derek Jeter does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame (if he were to retire today, the 2009 offseason):
Top MLB Shortstops
1.) Derek is not the most dominating shortstop in his era.
In fact, Derek Jeter isn't even the best shortstop on his team! Alex Rodriguez is the best shortstop in the game, and Jeter (the Captain) wouldn't even relinquish his throne to the better player. I can easily rattle off four more shortstops that are not only better at the position, but also have a more legitimate bid for the Hall of Fame during his era.
For example, someone who I think should be an automatic bid for the Hall is Omar Visquel. He was an average hitter at the plate, but he's a dominant defensive shortstop. He has the second most glove glove awards with 11 (2 behind Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith). What's even more impressive is that he won it in both the American League and National League.
Number three would have be Jimmy Rollins. He possesses all-star qualities in every aspect of the game from batting to fielding. He hits for power and contact, steals bases, and hardly makes any defensive mistakes. He is a 3-time golden glove winner and holds yearly titles in stolen bases and the 2007 NL MVP award.
Next is Miguel Tejada who also holds yearly titles in RBIs and the 2002 AL MVP award. Much like Rollins, his best asset is his work at the plate. He can hit for both contact and power. He is a dominant force and is someone I would place ahead of Derek Jeter.
And last but not least is Alex Rodriguez. The name alone justifies his bid over Derek Jeter. Not only is Rodriguez a better shortstop but he is arguably the best player in baseball. Although he is currently a 3rd baseman, many of Rodriguez's dominant years was as a shortstop with 2 golden gloves under his belt.
2.) Derek doesn't have the stats to back it up
If one looks at it from a statistical standpoint, Jeter does not measure up.
- Offensively, Jeter doesn't hold a single batting title. In my heart of hearts, I think that matters. For instance, he doesn't possess a single season MVP title. Although many look at him as a power hitter, at least from a shortstop standpoint, he has never hit over 25 homeruns in one season (only 3 seasons with over 20 homeruns). Also, he only has one season with 100 RBIs or more.
- On the defensive side of things, Jeter is mediocre at best. Sure he has made some spectacular plays that we all have etched in our minds, but he's really inconsistent. He's never really had a wide range, so on average, he's not going to stop anything past routine grounders. Plus, even when Jeter does manage to get to the ball, he commits a lot of erros. In total, Jeter has 213 errors in 15 years (an average of 14.2 errors per year.). To put that in perspective, Omar Visquel (as mentioned above, 11-time gold glove winner) has a total of 183 errors in 21 years (an average of 8.7 errors per year.)
Or even better, let’s take the average shortstop, someone like Adam Everett. He’s solid and has been a starter for the Detroit Tigers for 9 years. He is your everyday player, but by no means a household name and hardly a Hall of Fame candidate. He has committed 84 errors in his career, averaging 12 errors per season.
New York Yankees
3) Derek is a Yankee!
That’s right folks, whether anyone wants to admit it, Jeter gets special treatment because he is a New York Yankee. If Jeter began his career for any other team, nobody would pay him much attention.
Derek would be the equivalent of a Yunel Escobar, the Atlanta Braves current shortstop (meaning good but definitely not Hall of Fame material.). The Yankees are a major enterprise. They are, by far, the most recognizable American sports franchise. Since Derek is their proclaimed captain, he receives more attention that may not have been warranted.
Now, I’m not saying that Derek Jeter isn't a good player. In fact, my opinion of him is far from that. He's really good. He hits in the clutch and helps the Yankees win ball games. He does the right things and says the right things. He is a good role model for children all across the United States and is loved by millions. Of course, I know that none of this matters. I can him praise, but most of you will just glance over this part. But the fact of the matter is, I think he's good and very popular.
However, the Hall of Fame isn’t about popularity or at least it shouldn't be. The Hall of Fame is not about clutch hitters during the month of November. And it isn’t about average shortstops that commit 13-15 errors during their golden glove season.
The Hall of Fame is about the best of the best. Who cares if he gets 3,000 hits over an extended period of time? So? Good for him. It's a great achievement, but I don't think it's an automatic bid to the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame should be about being a dominant player at your position during an extended period of time. To me, batting titles should take precedence over longevity.
Also, the number of world series rings you have on your fingers shouldn't matter. Winning the World Series is a team effort. Did Derek Jeter help Yankees win those championships? Sure he did. But he wasn't the sole reason why the Yankees won. This isn't basketball. The Yankees won because they had a great team, every single time.
Again, the Hall of Fame is about being the best over the course of many seasons (not just postseason and 15 years of racking up singles). In my humble opinion, Derek Jeter simply doesn’t demonstrate these qualities.