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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sheehan: Veteran Jeter proves detractors wrong with solid turnaround

Keep on growing! Tell the truth!!...I looked away…It’s too late.

Notice that I’ve limited the discussion to Jeter’s offense. One of the great controversies of the sabermetric era is the difference between the mainstream opinion of Jeter’s defense at shortstop, and the numbers he’s produced in every defensive system. Jeter, who has won five Gold Gloves, has consistently been rated below-average—and at times among the worst shortstops in the game—by the credible defensive systems. Whatever his athleticism, he just hasn’t made enough plays relative to his peers to be considered a good defender by the metrics. That continues this season; Derek Jeter rates as the worst defensive shortstop in baseball in both Ultimate Zone Rating (at Fangraphs) and Runs From Fielding (at baseball-reference.com). He was among the worst in those categories last year, too. It’s unusual for 38-year-olds to even play shortstop regularly, but the ones who do are usually strong defenders nearing the end of their career. Jeter is an outlier among this group for not only not being a strong defender, but for his performance at age 38. By Runs From Fielding, Jeter is -17 this year; no 38-year-old has ever been worse than -7. Even with his surge at the plate, Jeter has been worth about two wins more than a replacement-level player because of his terrible range.

There is some statistical fluke in Jeter’s batting line. From 2007 through 2011, as his power faded, Jeter hit home runs on about 10 percent of his fly balls. This year, he’s doubled that figure to 20 percent. Since that is by far a career high, and a number incongruent with everything we know about him as a player, we can surmise that the 12 homers—and the bounce they give to his average and slugging—are less the product of skill than good fortune. They count toward his value, but should be taken with a grain of salt—they don’t represent a flowering of some late-in-life power. Remember, this is a batter who hits the ball on the ground as much as anyone we’ve seen; he’s not a home-run hitter.

Even if you ding Jeter for the defense and the home-run rate, you’re left with a player who has been a positive contributor at an advanced age, someone who may not quite be worth the $15 million he’ll make this season, but who has kept himself from becoming an albatross. Jeter is, at 38, still remarkably athletic. He’s a positive contributor running the bases, he’s exceptionally durable and while he scores poorly on measures of overall defense, he remains a smart player in the middle of the diamond. It wasn’t that long ago that it appeared the Yankees might be stuck with a replacement-level player at shortstop. In 2012, at least, that hasn’t been the case. Jeter’s ability to get the bat to the ball more frequently has given him enough offensive value to make him a good player on one of the game’s best teams.

Repoz Posted: August 23, 2012 at 06:55 AM | 162 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   101. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 24, 2012 at 09:14 AM (#4216569)
HW, historically bad could also mean 2500 games of below average shortstopping. Who else has done that? You list guys who played "but" 800-1000 games, not 2500 games. I don't think Brock meant that Jeter had a string of historically bad seasons.
   102. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 24, 2012 at 09:26 AM (#4216580)
ed

that is another interpretation.

i am not a jeter 'lover' as like any right thinking american i loathe the yankees but all this jibber jabber about jeter is stupid.

you cannot understate having smart guys in the middle of the action. and i don't give a sh8t what joe sheehan has to say about jeter going to his left as joe sheehan doesn't know a ballplayer from a porn star.

jeter's defense could be better. so could my personality. wasn't to be and yet both of us have been pretty successful in helping organizations succeed.

folks just need to shut up. seriously. they sound stupid and petty.
   103. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 24, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4216588)
Two or three years ago, I was with a buddy in pretty good seats for a Friday night Rangers/Islanders tilt. Directly in front of us were two Islander fans who -- believe it or not -- were somewhat thoughtful, so they spent much of the game congratulating themselves for "debunking" this and that shibboleth.(*)

The third period rolls around and the greatest chant in world sport starts. After the uproarious echoes of "POTVIN SUCKS!!!!" sufficiently fade, one of them says something like, "You know, that's never really made much sense." The other replies, all chin-strokey, "I know; I'd just like to ask sometime, 'But why? Why does he suck??'"

They're sitting kind of 90 degrees in their seats, their front shoulder pointed at the ice; their back one pointed at us, rather inviting an answer.

So my friend gives them one: "He just does. OKAY?????"

(*) One was wearing the Islander pumpkin colored third jersey with a degree of irony -- not DeKalb Corn trucker hat irony, but whatever. Close enough for hockey.


Well, if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that hockey sucks. It just does.

   104. BDC Posted: August 24, 2012 at 09:41 AM (#4216595)
Brock makes excellent points in #98. Jeter, as I've been thinking lately, has had a very extreme career; he's vaguely like Nolan Ryan and Ichiro in the respect that many things about his game are merely excellent, good or solid, but he has one bizarre characteristic (to go along with longevity and durability). Ryan struck guys out at an insane rate; Ichiro accumulates singles at a bizarre rate; Jeter has been able to stay at shortstop despite poor defense at an unprecedented and frankly weird rate.

He'd be a HOFer if he'd been moved to first base a few years ago and continued to hit at his current rate, but staying at SS makes him unique and really hard to evaluate (beyond, well, obviously "outstanding").
   105. -- Posted: August 24, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4216602)
All caveats with the metric duly noted (*), but Jeter's RF/9 is ca. 8% lower than the next lowest AL regular SS (**). The median AL regular SS is around 4.49; Jeter is at 3.84. He hasn't been as high as 4.05 -- dreadful, but better than where he is now -- aince 2008.

His defense is simply hideous -- a joke.

(**) Jhonny Peralta, a shortstop in name only.
   106. Lassus Posted: August 24, 2012 at 09:59 AM (#4216605)
#102 and #105 are the perfect point/counterpoint to this whole argument; I don't think the two sides are better represented by any other posts. (While I agree with him less frequently than most, I'm with harveys in this particular case.)
   107. Rally Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4216609)
In many ways, Piazza is like Jimmy Foxx, who started as a catcher, except that Foxx played in the 1930s, where his glove at catcher would have been ruinous to his teams, so they had to move him to 3B and then to 1B.


I don't know how bad people thought Foxx was at catcher, but the 1930's would have been the perfect time to hide a bad defensive catcher there. Almost nobody stole bases. If he was bad at things like pitch framing, that would be minimized in the 1930's as strikeout rates were extremely low, just a bunch of batters putting the ball in play and going base to base. The catcher was probably involved in fewer plays in the 30's than ever before.

As I understand it the reason Foxx had to find another position was that the A's had a fellow by the name of Cochrane behind the plate.
   108. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:06 AM (#4216612)
lassus

by the way, it's harvey. back when i registered i missed the apostrophe and when i have tried to correct i fail miserably. and now i just accept that it will be this way until the end of time. if jim can make the submit process indeciperable i can make my actual handle somewhat inscrutable

so.........harvey

   109. Greg K Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4216615)
I just hate him.

Based on what?

Sorry for not getting back on this one in time. I could have saved you a lot of time typing out that long response...it's pretty simple.

In the mid-90s the Yankees won a lot, and Jeter was one of their best players.

If we can't choose who we love and hate on a whim, what's the point of being a baseball fan? I realize Jeter is a great baseball player, I don't believe he has any objectionable character traits. I just choose to hate him because it brings me joy and does no harm to him or anyone else.
   110. Rally Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4216620)
I think most people here, by historically bad, mean that Jeter has accumulated more runs below average at the position than anyone else. It's as much a function of his longevity as anything else. We have a minority who say he's worse than Prince Fielder would be at the position, but every argument has it's crackpots. There have been worse fielders at short since Jeter's debut, but they tend to not stick around very long. If they can hit they find another position, if they can't they find another occupation.

Nomar Garciaparra came up one year after Jeter, and was a better fielder than Jeter, at least when he was a Red Sock. If Nomar had been literally forced to play as many games as Jeter - no excuses for being hurt, not allowed to retire - I'm sure he would have ended up with many more negative fielding runs.
   111. Stormy JE Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4216622)
joe sheehan doesn't know a ballplayer from a porn star.

Now that's a handle!
   112. -- Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4216623)
If we can't choose who we love and hate on a whim, what's the point of being a baseball fan?

Bingo. The level of piety and solemnity that surrounds the current vintage of sport -- encapsulated in the silly term "hater" -- is quite bizarre.

I don't believe he has any objectionable character traits.

Oh, I do.
   113. Darren Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4216625)
AROM, any chance you'll reveal your super-secret analysis of Jeter's defense a little early?
   114. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4216637)
In the mid-90s the Yankees won a lot, and Jeter was one of their best players.

If we can't choose who we love and hate on a whim, what's the point of being a baseball fan? I realize Jeter is a great baseball player, I don't believe he has any objectionable character traits. I just choose to hate him because it brings me joy and does no harm to him or anyone else.


Okay, that makes perfect sense. I used to feel exactly the same way about Johnny Podres in 1955, Lew Burdette in 1957, Bill Russell and Dave Cowens (I always hated the Celtics before Bird and Abdul** came along), and Roger Staubach (Redskin killer).

So I can see where you're coming from. I probably should hate Petunia, but he's such a pathetic looking little schlub that as long as the Red Sox stay in their funk I see him as more of a source of schadenfreude and amusement than hatred.

**Abdul Automobile, formerly known as M. L. Carr before his conversion.
   115. Greg K Posted: August 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4216653)
I do think a lot has to do with my formative years as a fan.

I was 13-17 or so when the Yankees were winning in 1996-2000. I was a big fan as a kid, and at around the age of 20 I found a way back into baseball through sabermetrics, but for that intervening period I was at most a casual fan. I'd say that the success of the Jays had a lot to do with it, but I'm a much bigger baseball fan now than when I was a kid and they were winning. I think the sheer boredom of the Yankees winning is what caused my interest to wane. Before 1996 I didn't mind the Yankees at all (mostly because they were a non-entity in the AL East in my lifetime up until that point). But now it doesn't matter. They could have twenty straight losing seasons and I would still hate them with the passion of a thousand suns. Such are the lifelong traits burned into us in our youth.

In much the same way I will continue to detest the Ottawa Senators long after they are contracted and the NHL itself folds.
   116. -- Posted: August 24, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4216665)
Danny Ainge and Claude Lemieux are the unquestioned inner circle of my Pantheon of Detestation.

Jeter's not even in it, nauseating as the slurpfest that surrounds him is.
   117. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 24, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4216670)
I know that I hated the Yankees as long as I've been a fan. I vaguely remember liking it when the Braves won in '57 when I was 6. I vividly remember rooting hard for the Braves the next year and was very disappointed when they lost. The hate was set in stone from then on. Only in middle age did I become tolerant of Yankees fans, as long as they had a good excuse for being one. :)
   118. bjhanke Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4216729)
Harvey - I'm glad you took the time to post. You missed the whole purpose of what I was trying to say about Jeter, which means I didn't phrase it well. Here's another try:

I'm not saying that Jeter has historically bad defense for a major league shortstop. He doesn't. I'm aware that there are several shortstops who have been worse. What I AM saying is that he has historically bad defense for a HALL OF FAME shortstop. Take a look at the Hall's shortstops. Probably the worst glove so far is Ernie Banks. Ernie was a better shortstop than Jeter early, and then got moved to first base. Why has the Hall got such great gloves in it? Because if you can hit really well, but are NOT a good glove, you get moved off of shortstop, like Rogers Hornsby. A great glove with a mediocre bat can get into the Hall as a shortstop, and some have (see Rabbit Maranville). But a great bat with a bad glove can't, because he won't be a shortstop. Derek Jeter, when he enters the Hall, which he will, will be the very first, and therefore historic, player to hit very well, play shortstop badly, and end up in the Hall as a shortstop because his team never moved him. That's historic. And that's what I'm talking about: What happens when you restrict the discussion to Hall of Famers.

Bob Dernier, #104, got my point. Maybe his comment will make more sense to you than my attempts at explanation.

Does that help? - Brock
   119. bjhanke Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4216738)
AROM - I looked up Foxx and Cochrane. They have the same rookie year, although Foxx was younger, while Mickey had more years in the minor leagues. Cochrane, by his own admission, was a bad catcher when he came to the bigs. He was willing to work to become better, and eventually did, but Connie Mack also had Jimmy Foxx to try. Jimmy wasn't any better than Mickey, but he was also just 17, so Connie decided to focus on what Mickey could do before getting to Jimmy. Well, MIckey started improving, and Jimmy didn't, so Jimmy got moved. So yes, it was Mickey Cochrane who moved Jimmy off of catcher, but the Mickey in question was not a good catcher himself at the time. He was just gaining ground at the position faster than Jimmy was. At least, that's how I inter[ret it. I wasn't exactly there in 1925, since I was born in 1947. - Brock
   120. Rants Mulliniks Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4216744)
I don't hate Jeter, I just hate the BS about him being god's gift to professional sports. And I totally disagree with Brock in his assessment of Jeter's career. No, Jeter's D isn't any great shakes, but how can it not be at least considered adequate? He certainly doesn't embarass himself in the field. He doesn't make many errors. He has an accurate arm, and he's often in the right place at the right time. So what if he's the worst defensive SS to play 2000+ games at short, someone has to be. Its worth noting that he has the highest OPS+ (118)of anyone to play 2000 games at SS. The only ones within 20 points of him are Ripken (112, and he provided no baserunning value at all), Appling (113, a decent baserunner but not on par with Jeter), Trammell (110, comparable offensive skill set but with over 2300 fewer PA's and counting), Bill Dahlen (110, but he played his last game over 100 years ago, so don't even try to tell me he's close to the equal of Jeter) and Larkin (116). If Larkin had added another 2500 PAs and kept his OPS+ at 116 there'd be no doubt in my mind he provided more value over his career than Jeter, but he didn't, so I'd give it a draw.

The only hitters with any kind of career length undoubtedly better than Jeter are Wagner, Vaughan and A-Rod. To say that Jeter isn't one of the top 10 shortstops of all time is ludicrous. You may consider Banks an SS, but he only played 7 full seasons at SS.
   121. Steve Treder Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4216757)
Brock,

I've long considered Jeter to be a pretty close comp to Joe Cronin, with the caveat that Jeter has lasted longer. Would you agree?
   122. Ray (CTL) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4216759)
My theory about Jeter having a higher % of PA against LHP this season being the main cause of his rebound is not true.

Here is the % of PA vs LHP Jeter has had since 2008, in order:

30%, 28%, 32%, 28%, 31%.

So there's nothing unique about 2012 (31%).

(Oddly, he has a much lower % of PA vs LHP over his career. Just 25%, if I'm doing the math right, but I wonder if I've made a mistake somewhere.)

But he IS hitting LHP as well or better than he ever has, which was my original point and holds true. His performance vs RHP is also better than it was in 2010/2011.

Also, he's on steroids.
   123. McCoy Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4216765)
I would so love for that to be true.
   124. -- Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4216780)
I think I'd take peace on Earth over Jeter on roids ... but maybe not. I'll get back to you.
   125. Tippecanoe Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4216784)
I agree that Jeter is one of the pro athletes who's least likely to use steroids. I mean, why risk the 'nads when you've got that comely queue of gift basket recipients-to-be?
   126. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4216833)
I know that I hated the Yankees as long as I've been a fan. I vaguely remember liking it when the Braves won in '57 when I was 6. I vividly remember rooting hard for the Braves the next year and was very disappointed when they lost. The hate was set in stone from then on. Only in middle age did I become tolerant of Yankees fans, as long as they had a good excuse for being one. :)

The worst quandry is when your lifelong favorite team gets hijacked by an owner from Hell. I grew up as a Redskins fan under George Preston Marshall, but at the time I was only dimly aware of his historic loathesomeness. And by the time it had dawned on me how bad he was, he'd integrated the team (at gunpoint, but whatever) and then sold it a few years later.

And then after two decades of Jack Kent Cooke's teams being among the elite of the NFL, he dies and his son is forced to sell the team to the worst possible owner this side of (yes, I'll say it) Hitler. Even Angelos can't hold a candle to Dan Snyder, and what makes it infinitely worse is that Snyder owns the radio stations and has the Post in the back of his pocket. It'll take a World Series sweep and an 0-8 Redskins start to get the Nats on the Monday front page and the Redskins off it. So yes, I hate the ####### Redskins.
   127. Swedish Chef Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4216840)
he dies and his son is forced to sell the team to the worst possible owner this side of (yes, I'll say it) Hitler.

That's so unfair, Hitler managed a couple of winning seasons.
   128. Srul Itza Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4216844)
The third period rolls around and the greatest chant in world sport starts. After the uproarious echoes of "POTVIN SUCKS!!!!"


I remember one time, far earlier than this, when I was in the Garden, and the POTVIN SUCKS chant began.

The fact that it was during a Knicks game only made it more hilarious.

But I still think the "Beat your wife, Potvin, Beat your wife" and "Denny Potvin beat your wife, Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah" chants were superior to the simple "POTVIN SUCKS" chant.
   129. Srul Itza Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4216850)
Danny Ainge and Claude Lemieux are the unquestioned inner circle of my Pantheon of Detestation.


Isiah Thomas and Bill Lambier. They don't come any more hatable.

EDIT: And in Hockey, Bobby Clarke, all day and all night.
   130. cardsfanboy Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4216858)
he dies and his son is forced to sell the team to the worst possible owner this side of (yes, I'll say it) Hitler Loria.


FTFY I know the two are comparable and are frequently mistaken, but there is no way that there is any owner worse than Loria, not Bidwell, not Frank and Stanley Robison, or even Marge Schott.
   131. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4216895)
Tell you what, CFB. You read this impartial study (which caused Little Napoleon to instigate a libel suit in retaliation), move to DC for a few years, puke over the saturation coverage of the Redskins in spite of all their 6 and 7 win seasons, and then tell me you wouldn't wish an even worse death on Danny boy.
   132. Rants Mulliniks Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4216905)
It'll take a World Series sweep and an 0-8 Redskins start to get the Nats on the Monday front page and the Redskins off it. So yes, I hate the ####### Redskins.


Now you know how I feel about all Canadian sports television for having to listen blathering NHL vets talk about contract negotiations for a middling player as the lead story in July. And I don't even have the luxury of knowing who to blame!
   133. cardsfanboy Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4216914)
Tell you what, CFB. You read this impartial study (which caused Little Napoleon to instigate a libel suit in retaliation), move to DC for a few years, puke over the saturation coverage of the Redskins in spite of all their 6 and 7 win seasons, and then tell me you wouldn't wish an even worse death on Danny boy.


Read the list, and outside of greed and incompetence, it doesn't seem to be to bad.

It's football, and the Redskins, they deserve Dan Snyder. (Sorry Andy. but I despise the redskins, starting with the racist name, the amount of press they get even when they suck, the fact that they have never been legitimately good enough to deserve all the press as if they are a dynastic franchise, etc.)

I find Loria to be utterly contemptible, only thing that could make him a worse human being, would be if he was a lawyer. (although lawyer and human being are usually considered to be oxymorons)
   134. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4216917)
brock

jeter will be the worst defensive hof shortstop?

nobody is going to remember that except us baseball nerds.

meaning who gives a sh8t?

he's still a top 5 shortstop all time and anyone claiming otherwise doesn't understand how baseball games are won

   135. Rally Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4216925)
I may not understand how baseball games are won, but on peak value I'd have several ahead of him - Wagner, Ripken, A-Rod, Yount, Banks, Garciaparra, Vaughn off the top of my head. Probably several more.

If we look at career value, and exclude the guys who played only half their career at short, Ripken and Wagner are ahead. I could see an argument for #3.
   136. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4216930)
arom

the standard hom thing about career and peak.

yes, i was speaking to career.

i do try and remember all the caveats for all the different readers perspectives but i missed this time.
   137. Rally Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4216933)
I've long considered Jeter to be a pretty close comp to Joe Cronin, with the caveat that Jeter has lasted longer.


I don't know what his reputation was, but Cronin appears to have been a pretty average fielder overall. Above average when younger, below as he aged. His TZ is +28 (less than +2 per year), RF is 5.16 (vs 5.17 league) and Fpct is .951 (.946 league).
   138. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4216934)
as for top i would have some order of wagner, ripken, ozzie, jeter and i dither between george davis and barry larkin. barry larkin in 1999 was 35 years old, banged up, and boy was he still playing shortstop. if not for the aches and pains that guy would have been the greatest.
   139. Steve Treder Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:19 PM (#4217019)
I don't know what his reputation was, but Cronin appears to have been a pretty average fielder overall.

His reputation among his players/teammates in Boston was that he was beyond terrible, as detailed in Mark Armour's wonderful bio. But of course that could have had as much to do with their resentment of this young pretty boy being brought in as their manager as it did with his actual performance.

Mark's best guess is that Cronin was a good defensive shortstop as a young player in Washington, and that he genuinely did have some struggles at least for his first couple of years in Boston. Cronin gained weight as he got into his 30s, which likely was a factor.
   140. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 24, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4217081)
And then after two decades of Jack Kent Cooke's teams being among the elite of the NFL, he dies and his son is forced to sell the team to the worst possible owner this side of (yes, I'll say it) Hitler.

Minor point, but it was Jack Kent Cooke's estate that put the Redskins up for sale, under the terms of his will - using the proceeds to fund some scholarship programs, IIRC. The son, who operated the team in the interim, was outbid by Snyder, although John Kent Cooke contended the estate could have accepted his lower bid to keep the team in the Cooke family.
   141. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 24, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4217094)
Minor point, but it was Jack Kent Cooke's estate that put the Redskins up for sale, under the terms of his will - using the proceeds to fund some scholarship programs, IIRC. The son, who operated the team in the interim, was outbid by Snyder, although John Kent Cooke contended the estate could have accepted his lower bid to keep the team in the Cooke family.

And what's even more ironic is that when Snyder first bought the team, Redskins fans looked upon him as a last minute reprieve from the clutches of his original co-bidder Howard Milstein, who was supposedly an even bigger vulture than Snyder. Little did they know.
   142. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 06:48 PM (#4217141)
as for top i would have some order of wagner, ripken, ozzie, jeter and i dither between george davis and barry larkin.


Rodriguez isn't a shortstop for you, I take it? A reasonable perspective. He and Stan Musial can be on their own list.
   143. Greg K Posted: August 24, 2012 at 07:12 PM (#4217184)
Now you know how I feel about all Canadian sports television for having to listen blathering NHL vets talk about contract negotiations for a middling player as the lead story in July. And I don't even have the luxury of knowing who to blame!

Our nation as a whole?

When I lived in Saskatchewan everyone was livid that the Leafs got more coverage than anyone else on the national sports networks. Or where I presently live, pre-season football friendlies between Derby and some second division Italian team get coverage while the upcoming AA English baseball national final this weekend gets absolutely zero coverage.

It's probably because I flunked out of my economics major, but I've always seen demand as the driver of media. When sports media isn't providing what you want, nearly 100% of the time your fellow sports media consumers are to blame.
   144. bjhanke Posted: August 25, 2012 at 04:54 AM (#4217661)
I took a look at Cronin. He seems to be comparable to Jeter offensively, except that he was, essentially, finished at age 34. After that age, he only played one game at SS, but then, he only played about one full season's worth of games in the rest of his career at all positions combined. Their OPS+ numbers are very similar, although I didn't dive any deeper into offense than that.

Defensively, they are not at all similar. Cronin's RField over at BB-Ref is +28 for his career. Jeter's, to date, is -227, which is staggeringly bad for a Hall candidate. Actually, it's staggeringly bad, period. In Win Shares (the book, which has defensive rankings for careers through 2000), Cronin grades out at A-, while Jeter grades at D+. And remember, defense is a young man's game, and Win Shares only goes up through 2000. So, what Win Shares is saying is that Jeter was a really lousy defensive shortstop even when he was young. He has been consistent as a hitter, so perhaps he hasn't lost much ground with the glove, but he's starting with a young player's ranking of D+. As Hall shortstop candidates go, that's historic. The fact that RField and Win Shares basically agree that Jeter is really bad and always has been, is pretty convincing to me. Those two systems do not always agree. When they do, they are usually right. - Brock
   145. bjhanke Posted: August 25, 2012 at 05:19 AM (#4217667)
On a whim, I went back to BB-Ref and sorted everyone in history by Fielding Runs, ascending order, which means worst at the top. Derek Jeter has the worst number of fielding runs of anyone in history at any position, -222. Gary Sheffield is second-worst, Adam Dunn is third. There are only 17 players with worse than -100, much less -200. Only one other of the 17 is a shortstop, Chris Gomez, at -111. So, no, I don't think I'm making anything up about Jeter's defense. He really is that bad. - Brock
   146. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 25, 2012 at 05:53 AM (#4217670)
brock

are you arguing with yourself in the mirror? nobody has stated that jeter is a good defender or even an average defender.

but i do think one thing needs to be clarified. jeter has been a below average defensive shortstop for a long time. so in the case of his 'fielding runs' yes his quantity would be significant because he's been at the job so long.

but jeter never buried the needle on bad. he was never a turn your head away i can't believe that guy is playing there type performer.

he's been pretty consistent at his below average level.

but he is not awful or a disaster. he's just been regularly subpar. he has carried that D+ for a long time. (below average)

i hope that makes sense.
   147. bjhanke Posted: August 25, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4217729)
Harveys - Your comment makes sense, although there are others here who seem to be willing to debate Jeter's defensive value. But I'm after bigger game here, really. It's not just Jeter I'm talking about. It's Jeter and Piazza and others who will surely be coming, who are going to have obvious Hall of Fame value in spite of playing a top defensive position for a whole career, and playing it badly. I think there are going to be more of these guys than fewer. So what I'm trying to do is generate an awareness that might lead to a debate on how to deal with players like that, as well as players with large chunks of their careers at DH. I think that, if the Hall voters go into the voting process without thinking these ideas through, they will likely make some mistakes that the would not have made if they'd known that this was a sea change and not just a couple of weirdo candidacies. If I've gotten you thinking about the issue of candidates of this sort, then I've done my job. If all I've done is convince you that I have Jeter's defense evaluated correctly, then I haven't finished doing my (self-appointed) job. Right now Jeter has a lot of controversy that Piazza doesn't have yet, but in my analysis here, he's as important as Jeter. It's just easier to get people to agree that Piazza is the first (or maybe second, depending on how you feel about Ernie Lombardi) catcher to have this happen. So, Mike tends to get forgotten. It's important to me that this not happen, and that people respond to the whole concept I've come up with. Jeter's just the hard case to argue, because discussion of his is already polarized. Does that make sense? Thanks, - Brock
   148. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 25, 2012 at 10:11 AM (#4217741)
brock

but you are picking the wrong guys. mike piazza was a solid defensive catcher who couldn't throw very well. piazza did all the other things needed of a catcher. yes throwing is important but less in an era that isn't quite the 1930's but when most batters were trying to jack one into the seats the real impact of piazza's deficiency is not as great as folks think

you also seem to think that the clubs playing these guys were not acting rationally and i struggle to buy that notion especially since both players played on a lot of winning teams.

both of the players you mention were smart, heady ballplayers who had a significant flaw but in my mind still made some kind of a contribution while on the field wearing a glove. jeter less so than piazza

i think you are way off on piazza. as in way, way off. if you are hitching your wagon to 'mike piazza is a horrible defensive catcher' as some kind of tipping point you are going to be aligned with the murray chass's and mike lupica's of the world. i don't see anyone who actually understands the game joining that cause

good luck with that
   149. Lassus Posted: August 25, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4217742)
If all I've done is convince you that I have Jeter's defense evaluated correctly, then I haven't finished doing my (self-appointed) job.

Honestly, you haven't convinced me you've even done that. (Caveats apply for a.) by real disbelief in defense metrics and b.) what I consider to be your normal brilliance on just about every other subject.
   150. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 25, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4217743)
he dies and his son is forced to sell the team to the worst possible owner this side of (yes, I'll say it) Hitler.

That's so unfair, Hitler managed a couple of winning seasons


His WAR for 1939-42 was much better than Barry Bonds. Steep dropoff in 1943-45.

And then after two decades of Jack Kent Cooke's teams being among the elite of the NFL, he dies and his son is forced to sell the team to the worst possible owner this side of (yes, I'll say it) Hitler. Even Angelos can't hold a candle to Dan Snyder, and what makes it infinitely worse is that Snyder owns the radio stations and has the Post in the back of his pocket.


Dan Snyder is the anti-Christ. I keep waiting for a head shot of him showing the 666, but since he controls the media, no such luck.
   151. cardsfanboy Posted: August 25, 2012 at 10:27 AM (#4217755)
It's Jeter and Piazza and others who will surely be coming, who are going to have obvious Hall of Fame value in spite of playing a top defensive position for a whole career, and playing it badly.


Piazza does not play it badly. Piazza has a poor arm, everything else required from defense of a catcher, Piazza was average or good. He never caught a team for a full season that didn't finish in the top 5 in ERA/RA.

i think you are way off on piazza. as in way, way off. if you are hitching your wagon to 'mike piazza is a horrible defensive catcher' as some kind of tipping point


Agreed. If I have a self appointed job, it is to make the world realize that Piazza wasn't a horrible defensive catcher. He did everything right that you can expect of a catcher, except throw the ball to second base. He called a good game, he was excellent on pop fouls, he was solid on balls in the dirt.
   152. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4217767)
brock

when cfb and i agree you are f8cked with an elephant d8ck on winning over converts as we disagree on the color of the sky and that's for starters
   153. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 25, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4217795)
His WAR for 1939-42 was much better than Barry Bonds. Steep dropoff in 1943-45.

And from 1934-1938, the English and French intentionally walked him rather than face him.
   154. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 25, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4217798)
I'm in line with Harvey and cfb here. Piazza and Jeter are in a way opposites. One who was somewhere in the below par spectrum but thought to be excellent in the media and by the majority of fans; the other, who was in the averageish range who was thought to be terrible by the media and majority of fans.
   155. BDC Posted: August 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4217815)
Even if Piazza wasn't entirely dreadful as a catcher, I think that Brock is correct about him in this respect: normally, he'd have been moved early on (Foxx is a good analogy, as are Gil Hodges, Dale Murphy, and Craig Biggio). The principle would probably have been that someone who hit so well would go to a less stressful position unless, like Roy Campanella or Johnny Bench, he also was a truly superior defensive option at catcher. There are lots of guys who can catch, after all, and extremely few who can hit like the guys I've mentioned.

But for whatever reason (perhaps just personal idiosyncrasy), Piazza stayed at catcher, a move that gave him (as the analogous move did Jeter) considerable value relative to position, and gave his teams a chance to stock up on big hitters at other positions. The Yankees have succeeded better than Piazza's teams at that, naturally. During Piazza's heyday in New York, for instance, the Mets' first baseman was Todd Zeile, another converted catcher who was a much more ordinary hitter than Piazza. But basically, they were using a risky and heretofore rare strategy: stretch a great hitter defensively in order to produce countervailing offensive value throughout the lineup.
   156. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 25, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4217839)
a lot of guys cannot play catcher

at least not at a mlb level
   157. bobm Posted: August 25, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4217927)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2012, Played 40% of games at SS, (requiring WAR_bat>=30), sorted by smallest runs_fielding

                                                             
Rk              Player Rfield WAR/pos    G    PA          Pos
1          Derek Jeter   -221    69.9 2549 11721         *6/D
2          Robin Yount    -46    72.4 2856 12249      *68D/73
3        Miguel Tejada    -43    42.7 2118  9038       *65/D4
4           Donie Bush    -34    36.7 1948  8746        *6/54
5             Jay Bell    -12    34.1 2063  8525      *64/53D
6           Joe Sewell     -4    49.2 1903  8333        *65/4
7        Vern Stephens      0    41.8 1720  7241       *65/79
8          Maury Wills      1    37.5 1942  8306        *65/4
9          Jim Fregosi      4    45.5 1902  7403     *635/D74
10        Johnny Pesky     17    30.4 1270  5515          654
11        Barry Larkin     20    67.3 2180  9057        *6/4D
12        Arky Vaughan     21    70.5 1817  7722       *65/74
13   Nomar Garciaparra     23    42.7 1434  6116      *63/5D4
14          Joe Cronin     28    61.9 2124  8840      *6/5347
15      Tony Fernandez     31    42.0 2158  8793       *654/D
16             Al Dark     34    39.6 1828  7833    *65/74391
17      Alex Rodriguez     38   111.8 2496 11034        *65/D
18        Dick Bartell     40    37.3 2016  8740         *654
19        Luke Appling     41    69.9 2422 10254       *6/543
20       Jimmy Rollins     47    37.9 1759  8085        *6/4D
21          Dick Groat     48    33.4 1929  8179       *6/543
22     Dave Concepcion     51    36.5 2488  9641     *645/381
23         Ernie Banks     54    62.5 2528 10394        36/57
24     Bert Campaneris     61    49.2 2328  9625 *6/574D83921
25       Rafael Furcal     63    37.4 1599  7180         *6/4
Rk              Player Rfield WAR/pos    G    PA          Pos
26     Rico Petrocelli     68    35.7 1553  6171       65/D43
27       Freddy Parent     70    33.5 1325  5563     *68/7495
28       Alan Trammell     75    67.1 2293  9376     *6/D5478
29        Honus Wagner     75   110.0 2298  9640   *63/957481
30         Bill Dahlen     77    31.2 1203  4805       *6/457
31       John Valentin     79    30.6 1105  4511      *65/43D
32        George Davis     85    35.7  990  4056       *6/435
33       Dave Bancroft     93    46.5 1913  8248       *6/457
34   Roger Peckinpaugh    100    40.6 2011  8387         *6/3
35        Terry Turner    102    34.7 1659  6655       654/98
36       Bobby Wallace    110    51.6 1743  6902      *65/491
37        Phil Rizzuto    116    38.1 1661  6718         *6/4
38       Pee Wee Reese    117    63.1 2166  9470          *65
39        Lou Boudreau    118    59.1 1646  7024      *6/5324
40        Omar Vizquel    127    40.2 2958 11981    *65/4D379
41   Rabbit Maranville    130    39.4 2670 11256        *64/5
42      Travis Jackson    139    42.0 1657  6680       *65/94
43        Art Fletcher    144    45.1 1533  6038        *6/54
44       Luis Aparicio    147    51.7 2601 11230           *6
45          Cal Ripken    179    90.9 3001 12883        *65/D
46          Joe Tinker    180    50.4 1806  7152       *6/549
47         Ozzie Smith    239    73.0 2573 10778           *6
48       Mark Belanger    240    37.6 2016  6601        *6/45
   158. bobm Posted: August 25, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4217934)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2012, Played 40% of games at C, (requiring WAR_bat>=30), sorted by smallest runs_fielding

                                                          
Rk            Player Rfield WAR/pos    G    PA         Pos
1        Mike Piazza    -60    56.5 1912  7745       *2D/3
2       Jorge Posada    -59    39.2 1829  7150      *2D/34
3        Ted Simmons    -33    46.7 2456  9685    *2D3/759
4          Joe Torre    -28    54.2 2209  8802       235/7
5     Ernie Lombardi    -21    43.6 1853  6351          *2
6       Wally Schang    -21    41.4 1841  6427    *2/78596
7          Joe Mauer    -15    35.3 1034  4416      *2D/39
8    Roger Bresnahan    -14    39.1 1438  5355 *28/5934761
9        Gene Tenace     -8    44.3 1555  5527   *23/59D47
10   Mickey Cochrane     -2    48.9 1482  6207        *2/7
11    Darrell Porter      9    37.8 1782  6570       *2D/3
12     Jason Kendall     10    37.7 2085  8702      *2/79D
13     Smoky Burgess     12    31.2 1692  5012          *2
14    Gabby Hartnett     12    50.7 1991  7297        *2/3
15    Roy Campanella     17    31.6 1215  4815          *2
16       Bill Dickey     20    52.4 1789  7064          *2
17      Carlton Fisk     27    63.7 2499  9853     *2D/735
18      Bill Freehan     27    41.3 1774  6900     *23/D79
19        Yogi Berra     31    56.1 2120  8359     *279/35
20    Thurman Munson     32    43.3 1423  5905    *2/D9375
21     Lance Parrish     39    36.0 1988  7797     *2D/397
22      Johnny Bench     75    72.3 2158  8674    *253/798
23       Gary Carter    112    66.4 2295  9019     *29/375
24      Jim Sundberg    114    37.3 1962  6899       *2/7D
25    Ivan Rodriguez    146    63.8 2543 10270      *2/D34
   159. BDC Posted: August 25, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4218019)
Sorry, Harvey: what I was trying to say was that a lot of AAA guys can catch defensively, certainly as well as Piazza. Piazza's catching skills were hardly rare; his hitting skills were nearly unmatched.
   160. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 25, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4218040)
bob

actually, one of the folks around here did research showed that piazza was one of the best at blocking wayward pitches.

and i disagree that in another time piazza would have been moved.

nobody early in his career discussed moving piazza. in fact nobody complained about his defense in any manner. it wasn't until about 1996 (checks, yup looks right) that folks started to say anything about his throwing but there were caveats because guys like nomo and some of the others on the staff made it hard on any catcher.

after 2000 it became all the rage to gripe about piazza's throwing. but piazza's teams also did well in run prevention with him behind the plate and i could be way off but i thought run prevention was the goal of defense.

i am really surprised at folks picking guys like piazza and jeter to prove some point about defensive value and the value of defensive metrics. if you are going to die on a hill i can think of 25 other good spots

these are sh8tty hills to take a stand
   161. cardsfanboy Posted: August 25, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4218045)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2012, Played 40% of games at C, (requiring WAR_bat>=30), sorted by smallest runs_fielding


And that is a problem with the defensive stats for catchers, and one reason that nobody should take them seriously. It's based almost strictly upon the arm of the catcher. Great studies have been done on framing the pitch to show that it's at least a real tangible skill. Any system that puts Irod as best of all time, is a tremendously flawed rating. Irod was a great arm, his game calling was at best average, or even worse as he liked to call fastballs more frequently with men on base to give himself a better chance at throwing out the runners, and everyone else knew he was doing it. Irod rarely caught a good pitching staff. Piazza had a couple of seasons where he fielded every single pop foul possible, etc. He was good at every aspect expected out of a catcher, except throwing out a runner.
   162. BDC Posted: August 25, 2012 at 05:33 PM (#4218134)
Could be, Harvey. I remember somewhat more skepticism about Piazza as a catcher, and earlier, than you do. Much of the evaluation of catching, to this day, is subjective; the metrics, as the fanboy points out, are pretty oblique and variable. And it's complete speculation as to whether Piazza would have been moved earlier in a different era. He was not a happy camper as a first baseman in his one stint there late in his career. But Berra and Bench and Fisk, among others, kept gravitating back to catcher despite their defensive versatility and their good bats, never really permanently landing at a new position. For some guys, catching may just be in their temperament.
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