The Overrated Derek Jeter Should Be A Unanimous Hall of Fame Selection

This year, Derek Jeter is finally Hall of Fame eligible, and after spending two decades referring to him as a future Hall of Famer, he will be one in short order. Really, when looking at him, the only question is whether he will join Mariano Rivera as the only players to be unanimous selected.

By any measure Jeter is a Hall of Famer. He clears the (once) automatic 3,000 hits threshold. In fact, his 3,465 hits are the sixth most all-time and the most at his position. He has five World Series rings with a World Series MVP to his resume. In addition to that, he has a Rookie of the Year, five Silver Sluggers, and five Gold Gloves. Additionally, he is a 14 time All-Star with an All-Star Game MVP.

Throw in his iconic plays like nailing Jeremy Giambi at the plate, robbing Trot Nixon of a base hit (needlessly running into the stands), and his homer off of Byung-Hyun Kim, and you have someone who is iconic enough to be a Hall of Famer.

When you dig deeper, you see a player whose 72.4 WAR and 57.4 JAWS are better than the 67.0 WAR and 55.0 JAWS an average Hall of Fame shortstop has accumulated. Really, when you dig down, we all know Jeter is a Hall of Famer, and each and every voter should give him a vote. For those who don’t vote for him, you really have to question whose career they watched, what exactly they are looking at in their analysis, and finally, their integrity.

So yes, Jeter is absolutely a Hall of Famer who deserves everyone’s vote. However, that does not for one second mean he wasn’t completely overrated.

For starters, by WAR, Jeter was only slightly better than Alan Trammell and Barry Larkin. For some reason, Trammel had to wait until the Veteran’s Committee (or whatever it’s called now), and Larkin had to wait until the third ballot.

While Jeter has the WAR and JAWS to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he doesn’t have the WAR7. His 42.4 falls short of the 43.0 average. On that note, Nomar Garciaparra‘s 43.1 cleared the hurdle, and he was five percented in his only year on the ballot.

When looking at Jeter and Garciaparra, they along with Alex Rodriguez were part of what was dubbed as the Holy Trinity of Shortstops. To a certain extent, they’d be soon joined by Miguel Tejada. During this era, Jeter was looked upon as the best of the group. Of course, with A-Rod, this was never true.

Speaking of things that were never true, as noted above, Jeter won five separate Gold Gloves. Honestly, he deserved none of them.

In a stretch from 2004 – 2006, he won three straight. Over that time, he had a combined -56 DRS. Not only was he not the best shortstop, but over that time frame, he was the second worst defensive shortstop in the American League. Despite that, he won the awards and two others over more deserving candidates like Omar Vizquel, Juan Uribe, Bobby Crosby, and Elvis Andrus.

In fact, when you look at it, since they started tracking DRS in 2002, Jeter’s -152 DRS makes him the worst defensive shortstop of all-time. To be fair, this does not include his younger years when he was likely better, and it overlooks shortstops of previous eras who were not adjudged by advanced stats.

To be fair, he deserved his Silver Sluggers, and you could make the argument he merited one or two more. Again, the point here is Jeter was great, but not as great as he was and continues to be made out to be.

Ultimately, Jeter is talked about one of the 2-5 best shortstops of all-time. It’s difficult to make that case when he ranks “just” 10th all-time in WAR at the position. Looking at it deeper, he is far behind Honus Wagner and Cal Ripken Jr. He’s also behind lesser known Hall of Famers like George Davis and Arky Vaughan. In fact, he’s behind Bill Dahlen, who to this date, hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

In the end, with Jeter, we see a great player. Soon, we may see someone who is going to be unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Looking at his career, Jeter should become the first position player to receive that honor. When and if that happens, make no mistake. Jeter is an all-time great player who was a terrible defender and who is just simply overrated.

9 thoughts on “The Overrated Derek Jeter Should Be A Unanimous Hall of Fame Selection”

  1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    How would a first baseman fare, playing SS? Well, we’ve answered that thought experiment.

    It would be interesting if more teams were unconventional in this regard. Say you have two terrific hitters on your team, but every position other than SS and 1B is filled and for some reason you can’t move guys, or can’t put your pair in the OF (insufficient depth perception?) or elsewhere for reasons. (Just go with it). Let’s additionally say one of your 1Bmen is a pretty good fielder who, while he’d be among the worst SS in the league on defense, wouldn’t be a complete embarrassment. Say he’s something like a +60 hitter and a -20 fielder at SS. That gives you a 4 win guy you’d either have to trade or put on the bench. Why not put him at SS? Then there are guys like Lewis Brinson in CF. Is he really the best MIA could do? Wouldn’t they have been a lot better off putting someone like CJ Cron in LF, moving their best corner guy to CF, living with -10 or -15 defense but a bat that’s about +40 compared with Brinson?

    Remember that teams were still picking up Keon Broxton and his .375 OPS after the Mets DFA’ed him. Even though his OPS bumped up to around .575, he was still terrible. Was he really a better option than going with a bat and just suffering your best corner OFer in CF? (That Keon Broxton was picked up by Baltimore then by Seattle might attest to just how inaptly teams are thinking about their centerfield troubles. Maybe the Mets aren’t making a mistake so much by putting Nimmo in CF, but rather by adding in a defender like JD Davis in LF on top of that.)

    –fwiw, I can see someone holding back their vote just to ensure Jeter isn’t the 2nd unanimous vote. Voters can take into account context, so it wouldn’t be a terrible decision.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Holding your vote back to make some arbitrary point is ludicrous especially when the Hall of Fame is not sectioned off according to vote totals or precise ballot.

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        It’s the idea that everyone must observe your own personal predilections and interpretations that’s “ludicrous,” my friend.

        And, of course, it’s not an “arbitrary point” but rather a very specific one: “Derek Jeter, in the context of every other Hall of Fame election (which, after all, is how we determine merit and eligibility), is not so good as to warrant unanimous election when Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, et al, did not.”

        That’s an eminently sound point to make.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          It’s really not. The test is Hall of Famer or not. Trying to apply an arbitrary standard is just plain wrong.

      2. Oldbackstop says:

        Yeah. Agree. But it feels so wrong

        1. Oldbackstop says:

          I mean to agree with Metsdaddy, in case that wasn’t clear.

      3. John says:

        Sports writers are, with very few exceptions, morons. Most of them would be in a different line of work if it weren’t for the free post-game buffet. However, THEY believe themselves to be infinitely more important than they are, therefore a meaningless act like not voting for someone the first year he is eligible is seen by them as some grandiose statement by a de-facto “keen observer” of the game. As you said, it’s pointless. Once players like Bill Mazeroski and Harold Baines were allowed in, the bar was lowered to such an extent that vote totals are meaningless anyway. They all wind up in that same hallway. By the same token, if we are going to start comparing HOFers with fake, made-up-by-dorks stats like WAR and JAWS (these are movies, not legitimate statistics), for potential inclusion, the whole system is bastardized anyway. It’s a Hall of FAME, not a Hall of NERDSTATS. This point is cemented when someone tries to compare Derek Jeter, unfavorably, to Arky Vaughn. Ridiculous.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Argue against them all you want, but stats are the root upon which we evaluate players and make Hall of Fame cases.

  2. Oldbackstop says:

    I mean to agree with Metsdaddy, in case that wasn’t clear.

    And so much depends on the crop that year. I couldn’t care less about vote total.

    Axshully, I couldn’t care less about the HoF.

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