Thursday, September 17, 2009

Could Derek Jeter Get In The HoF Unanimously?

It's been a while, but I don't think there is any other way to approach this than FJM-style. Maybe I was inspired by yesterday at Deadspin. Or maybe there is so much wrong in this post that I tried to react to it using blockquotes but it was impossible without it seeming like I was quoting him out of context.

(Before you tell me in the comments, I have no delusions that I am as brilliant or funny as the FJM fellas, but when you disagree with just about everything in a piece, there aren't too many ways of responding to it other than bolding what they say and reacting in regular font.)

Is Derek Jeter an all-time, all-time, all-time great, a la Mantle, Ruth, Rickey Henderson, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, etc? No.

But he is an all-time great—the shortstop with the most hits, a four-time World Series champ, an undisputed leader and grinder.

Luis Aparicio had the record for hits as a shortstop before Jeter and he received just 84.6% of the vote and it wasn't even his first ballot.

Phil Rizzuto was the Yankee shortstop for 7 World Series titles but had to be elected by the Veterans Committee 38 years after he retired, and unlike Jeter, he won an MVP.

Lots of people disputed Jeter's leadership when he didn't stand up for A-Rod. Others have said that Jorge Posada was the real, fiery leader in the Yankee clubhouse.

And "grinder" is a nebulous, bullshit term that has been used to describe the least talented player on every high school team ever assembled.

That’s why, I truly believe, Jeter may way become the first unanimous Hall of Same selection.

I really do.

All of those things in combination are pretty impressive, but none of those guys who you named as being better than Jeter were elected unanimously.

I know… I know—some moron voter will make a stand by voting NO; his chance to say, “If Ruth wasn’t unanimous, Jeter shouldn’t be.”

You really don't think he'll get in unanimously, then. So what was the point of this article again?

But Jeter, well, Jeter is perfect. First, look at his lifetime statistics. Second, look at the three Gold Gloves (yes, his defense isn’t what it once was. But, in 2009, it’s been very good). Third, look at the four titles. Fifth, look at the captaincy. Sixth, look at the clutch situations—especially The Flip against Oakland. Seventh, look at the dignified way he carries himself.

Okay, since you brought them up, let's actually look at these things instead of just listing them offhandedly, shall we Jeff:

Yes his statistics are very good, particularly his batting average and OBP, especially when you consider that he plays shortstop. I'm with you.

Second, look at the three Gold Gloves (yes, his defense isn’t what it once was. But, in 2009, it’s been very good)

It's not that his defense wasn't what it once was, it's that there are very smart people who contend that it was never very good to begin with. Derek Jeter isn't going to the HoF for his defense.

Third, look at the four titles.

Those four championships came in his first 5 years and he hasn't won one since then despite playing on the team with the highest payroll in the league every year during that time even though Jeter has been great all along. Which kind of goes to show that championships are a pretty terrible way of measuring individual performance.

- Apparently because you used "four titles" in your 3rd point, you didn't include a #4. Clever.

Fifth, look at the captaincy.

Mmmkay, I'm looking. And I see Jason Varitek, who is the captain of the Red Sox, and the only way he's getting into Cooperstown is by driving down Interstate 88 and ponying up the $16.50 entry fee. I also see Thurman Munson who, despite winning a Rookie of the Year (like Jeter), and MVP (unlike Jeter) was not inducted because his career was tragically cut short. It's about the numbers not the "captaincy".

Sixth, look at the clutch situations—especially The Flip against Oakland.

Let's disregard the flip play that you mentioned because he has done something like that exactly one fucking time in his career on which Jeremy Giambi might have been safe anyway. If we are basing Hall of Fame voting on fluke plays in the playoffs, let's add Mookie Wilson and Aaron Boone while we're at it. But let's focus on the larger point; his performance in clutch situations in general.

If you had actually looked at his career numbers on B-R like you told everyone else to in point #1, you would know that Jeter's OPS in the regular season is .846. How about in late and close situations during the regular season? .811.

His OPS in the postseason is exactly the same as the regular season right now, .846. He's been great in the ALDS at .957. In the ALCS, though? .743, pretty close to leage average. In the World Series, the clutchiest of all baseball gaming situations? .809. There's something to be said for staying close to his great career norms under intense pressure, which is more than most can claim. But let's not pretend that Jeter has delivered transcendent "clutch" performances throughout his career whenever the pressure rises. Because no one does that. Because "clutch" comes and goes.

Seventh, look at the dignified way he carries himself.

Amazingly, this might be the most salient point of them all. He hasn't done anything to offend the people voting for him and he won't lose any votes to vindictive writers like many others have. But recent inductees Cal Ripken and Tony Gywnn carried themselves with the same level of class and still came up 8 and 13 votes short, respectively.

I'll add one thing of my own, which I mentioned above... #8 - He's never won an MVP. I personally don't think that should keep him off the first ballot, but that might have been the difference between the 5 voters who went for Ripken but not Gywnn. Or maybe they were racists. In which case 2 or 3 of them should vote for Jeter.

I thought it utterly insane that Rickey Henderson had a handful of voters who didn’t support his Hall bid, but the Rickster was, factually, arrogant and a wee-bit selfish. He didn’t deserve any Nays, but he didn’t always carry himself with professionalism.

And that handful will be the same people who, in defense of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Matthewson and Honus Wagner, won't vote for Derek Jeter.

Jeter is, for lack of a better word, perfect.

You already said that. Putting in a one sentence paragraph doesn't make it a better point.

To vote against the man would be illogical. And downright stupid.

The BBWAA doing something illogical? Or stupid? I refuse to believe it.

Derek Jeter is a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer is he never records another hit. He's the greatest Yankee shortstop of all time and like Tim Marchman said, he's as winning a winner as ever won. But there are going to be at least a few complete assholes out there who, instead of individually deciding whether or not they they he belongs in the Hall of Fame, will take it into their own hands to block his unanimous induction. It's ridiculous but it's reality.

However, had Pearlman made his case with actual facts or sound logic, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time.

1 comment:

  1. That Deadspin post got me too, I love that FJM format, it kills me every time. So, in order of appearance in article, I have a few follow up questions. If Ruth and Mantle are all-time all-time all-time greats and Jeter is an all-time great, who is an all-time all-time great player? Is Hall of Same [sic] a typo? Finally--he's perfect? Really? Exactly perfect? Maybe he really is Jesus. In which case, he better watch out for Johnny Damon.