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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Posnanski: Jeter vs. Larkin

On the surface, Larkin and Jeter have a lot in common. They were both shortstops, roughly the same build (Jeter is taller), both of them planned to go to the University of Michigan (Larkin actually went; Jeter decided last minute to sign with the Yankees). They were both high draft picks (Larkin 4th overall; Jeter 6th). They were both impressive people. They were both leaders.

They each won multiple Gold Gloves (Jeter won five; Larkin three),. They each won multiple Silver Sluggers as the best hitter at their position (Larkin won nine; Jeter five).

And if you look at their almost identical Baseball-Reference WARs — Jeter at 71.3 WAR; Larkin at 70.5 — you would just assume that they were carbon copies of each other.

They weren’t … they really were very different players. But the point is that Jeter is so much more famous than Larkin. He was elected almost unanimously to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, while Larkin had to wait three years to get in. Derek Jeter hosted Saturday Night Live. Derek Jeter is named in multiple hip-hop songs. Derek Jeter was cheered and booed in every park he played in.

None of this is particularly true of Barry Larkin.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 03:57 PM | 77 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: barry larkin, derek jeter

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   1. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: September 08, 2021 at 04:28 PM (#6038736)
One played for the Yankees, the other played for Cincinnati. In addition, Jeter's start coincided with an incredible run of success for the Yankees.

   2. SoSH U at work Posted: September 08, 2021 at 04:32 PM (#6038737)
One was an MVP, the other came up short. Wait, that doesn't fit.
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6038738)
Did you read the article, or just the excerpt?
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2021 at 04:37 PM (#6038739)
The article is basically Joe saying obviously Jeter is hof worthy, and it's also possible he was both overrated and underrated at the same time, his poor defense didn't really seem to hurt the Yankees pitching staff, etc. etc. etc.
   5. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: September 08, 2021 at 04:39 PM (#6038740)
How dreamy were Larkin's eyes?
   6. Walt Davis Posted: September 08, 2021 at 04:40 PM (#6038742)
Who had the better gift basket?
   7. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: September 08, 2021 at 04:43 PM (#6038744)
The Reds took Chad Mottola, a college OF, with the 5th pick in the '92 draft. He put up -0.9 WAR in 59 games.

The Yankees did slightly better with the next pick.
   8. villageidiom Posted: September 08, 2021 at 04:50 PM (#6038746)
I think it's unfair to say Jeter was the worst defensive player in the history of baseball. Yes, he was 253 defensive runs below average. And yes, he made one fewer play every 2 games than the average shortstop, over a 20-year career. But, like, he was allowed to play shortstop. If you put David Ortiz at shortstop for 20 years he would have been a far worse defensive player than Derek Jeter. There are soooo many worse defensive players than Jeter, but they were not allowed the chance to play shortstop for 20 years.

I've said for decades now that the value players provide is based on how they apply their skills in the opportunities they are given, and because some players are given different opportunities the value they can provide is constrained on that basis. I'm of the opinion that Jeter would have been a much better defensive CF than Bernie Williams, for example, but that wasn't the opportunity that Jeter was provided. Jeter might have been a better fielder than most of his teammates*, at their positions - but they would have been so much worse at SS than Jeter that a positional switch wouldn't have made sense.

Anyway, Jeter's defense looks as bad as it does partly due to how the Yankees positioned the infield as Mike Emeigh demonstrated many years ago, but also because lesser players never got the chance to rack up the innings and the years at the position. The fact that he did, and they didn't, is alone some measure of evidence that he was an all-time great at the position. Which he was.

(All of this is really just an excuse to link to Mike Emeigh's work on this.)

*A-Rod just after coming to the team is the obvious exception.
   9. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:01 PM (#6038749)
It's funny, I never thought to compare the two. It always seemed obvious to me that Larkin was the better player, though that was probably fandom bias.

I think it's unfair to say Jeter was the worst defensive player in the history of baseball.


That seems obvious to me. Irrespective of the positioning data -- which I'm not sure I buy -- there have been many, many dreadful fielders who spent their whole careers in outfields or at first base because they would have comically bad at SS or 2B. Jeter probably shouldn't have been a career SS. When the Yankees got A-Rod he probably should have shifted to second, third, or center. But the idea that he's the "worst fielder of all time" just seems out-of-whack with reality.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:11 PM (#6038752)
It's funny, I never thought to compare the two. It always seemed obvious to me that Larkin was the better player, though that was probably fandom bias.


On a rate basis, I don't think anyone could argue differently, the issue was the ability to stay in the lineup annually.

But the idea that he's the "worst fielder of all time" just seems out-of-whack with reality.
Someone has to be that guy, and that guy has to be someone who puts up a crap ton of offensive runs relative to his position that he keeps playing. Almost by definition, the worst fielder of all time is going to end up being a hof quality player. Whether it's Jeter or not is of course a different discussion, but in order to be the worst defensive player relative to your position of all time, more or less requires you to play 15 plus years as an everyday player, 15 year careers as an everyday player is almost always a player in the hof discussion.

Add in that positionally defensive runs on both the plus and negative side are going to happen at the defense first position, and it makes sense that the worst defensive player of all time is going to be a guy in the hof discussion for a defense first position.

   11. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:13 PM (#6038753)

TFA covers the topic pretty well.

Looking at Larkin's numbers vs. Jeter's, they both basically started at the same age (Jeter 21, Larkin 22) and played until they were 40, but Jeter had 3500 more plate appearances. This is due to a combination of durability, the strike years, and Jeter batting at the top of the order for a strong offensive team. Jeter played 567 more games and also had 4.6 PA per game to Larkin's 4.2.
   12. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:18 PM (#6038754)
One other difference between the two is that Larkin went to college and Jeter didn't (although somewhat oddly he took classes at Michigan, the same school as Larkin). Larkin went to Michigan on a football scholarship, back when Michigan had a football program. I wonder if Larkin's narrative is a bit different if he's concentrating on baseball a bit earlier without worrying about his Communications 101 project.
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:18 PM (#6038755)
I think it's unfair to say Jeter was the worst defensive player in the history of baseball.


It's not worst defensive player in history, it's worst defensive player relative to position in history. rPos restores 144 of his -253 runs, so in reality he was roughly a - 9.4 defensive player over a 20 year career, or basically -.55 per season he played defensively, when he averaged 4.8 offensive wins per year, there isn't a team in baseball that wouldn't make that tradeoff over 20 years.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:19 PM (#6038757)
I think it's unfair to say Jeter was the worst defensive player in the history of baseball. Yes, he was 253 defensive runs below average. And yes, he made one fewer play every 2 games than the average shortstop, over a 20-year career. But, like, he was allowed to play shortstop. If you put David Ortiz at shortstop for 20 years he would have been a far worse defensive player than Derek Jeter. There are soooo many worse defensive players than Jeter, but they were not allowed the chance to play shortstop for 20 years.

True, but his bat only look so good because we're comparing him to SS. A 115 OPS+ isn't generally HoF worthy. I'm guessing if Jeter came up as a RF, he's not in Cooperstown.
   15. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:21 PM (#6038759)
3400+ hits from any position is going to get you to the HOF.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:25 PM (#6038761)
True, but his bat only look so good because we're comparing him to SS. A 115 OPS+ isn't generally HoF worthy. I'm guessing if Jeter came up as a RF, he's not in Cooperstown.


How many rightfielders have 3400 hits, if Jeter was a right fielder, his hof case would have been based upon maybe his first 15 years and his first 2747 hits and his 121 ops+ and if he was a right fielder all that time, he would have been a plus defender, not a negative as he was at short, ultimately his value still would have been the same and a first ballot lock.

There is no theoretical universe in which Jeter isn't a hof'er based upon the actual numbers he put up.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:31 PM (#6038762)
How many rightfielders have 3400 hits, if Jeter was a right fielder, his hof case would have been based upon maybe his first 15 years and his first 2747 hits and his 121 ops+ and if he was a right fielder all that time, he would have been a plus defender, not a negative as he was at short, ultimately his value still would have been the same and a first ballot lock.

There is no theoretical universe in which Jeter isn't a hof'er based upon the actual numbers he put up.


He almost certainly doesn't put up those numbers as a RF. Even if he's average defensively, his WAR goes down. And he won't be average at 36-40. Frank Robinson has worse dWAR than Jeter. He won't be getting 700 PA at 34-40.

Probably more importantly, in RF he's viewed as just a good player, not a star. He probably doesn't bat as high in the lineup, and almost certainly isn't a lifelong Yankee. Jeter was treated like a 100 WAR player in his career, because his defensive failings were ignored by 90% of people. He got the opportunities usually afforded better players. He hit like Nick Swisher. In the OF that's not a star, even if you play forever.

He's clearly a HoF, but lucky that his career unfurled about as perfectly as possible. He's hugely over-rated.

Edit: there's also the issue that some methods show his defense as far worse that the -10 runs per year.
   18. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:39 PM (#6038765)
Almost by definition, the worst fielder of all time is going to end up being a hof quality player. Whether it's Jeter or not is of course a different discussion, but in order to be the worst defensive player relative to your position of all time,


...those are quite different things?
   19. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:49 PM (#6038768)
He almost certainly doesn't put up those numbers as a RF. Even if he's average defensively, his WAR goes down.

Jeter's Rfield + Rpos is -109. BRef conveniently lays that out as -7 per 162. Someone like Larry Walker or Paul O'Neill conveniently has an Rpos/162 of -6.

IOW if he's an average defender in RF, then his WAR is basically the same, maybe a bit better.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:54 PM (#6038770)
This is one of those times where I don't know if it's my lousy memory or there have been small changes to WAR but I coulda sworn Jeter was in the 60s. Not enough to matter either way regardless.

In terms of "quality" and based on bWAR, it's not really much of a match. Jeter needed nearly an extra 3600 PAs to catch Larkin in WAR. Larkin has 12 more WAA. Of course that just leads back to "was Jeter's defense really THAT bad?" The gap to Larkin is 26-27 wins. Jeter was the more productive hitter, the baserunning gap is not very big.

To the extent Jeter is under-rated, it's that he was one of the very best hitting SS of all-time. But that's where the defense comes in -- as near as I can tell, Jeter is unique in being a very poor defensive SS in his 20s but still being allowed to keep playing SS every day in his 30s. Was he one of the best-hitting SS of all-time or should have have been chased off the position a la Franco (last SS season at 28 ... or 228) or Harrah (27)? Of course even if he had been that would make him one of the best-hitting 2B or an outstanding-hitting 3B ... or as I frequently point out, by WAR, he's basically Tim Raines (or Pete Rose) playing SS his entire career (dWAR -9.4 Jeter, -8.6 Raines, Rose -13.2 but half of that in his extra 3000 PA over Jeter). In other words, he's still HoF-worthy wherever you put him because of the bat, albeit much less famous, fewer AS games, etc.

The eternal greats aside, most HoFers have an outstanding 12/13-year run (usually totalling about 8000 PA) during which they amass the vast majority of their value. The difference between just short and over the line is often what happens in the other 1000-2000 (or 4600) extra PAs but it's still that long run that puts them in the conversation. Jeter's run is ages 23-35 with 358 Rbat in 9104 PA or 26 Rbat/650 -- outside of that -5 Rbat in 3500 PA which isn't bad). Rose actually had a 15-year run but his best 13-year run looks to be 360 Rbat or 25/650. Bwynn was also 15-16 but produced at about 28/650 with less durability. Or Rod Carew who was a bit better at 30-31 Rbat/650 but much less durable with 7800 PA. Molitor's best run was 26/650 and he was a DH in the last 1/3 of that and mostly 2B-3B before that.

At 2B: that rate is better than Biggio (21/650) and, in the same PA, Jeter is up about 100 Rbat for their careers. Alomar put up 20/650; Cano 22/650; Sandberg only had a 10-year run and was still just at 23. Sandberg of course an outstanding defender, Almoar at 3 dWAR, Biggio at -3. Anyway, Jeter the 2B is in.

But you could also take a more traditional slugger like Billy Williams whose run was ages 24-36 eith 358 Rbat in 8800 PA or 26/650. Murray was a bit better at 29/650 in about 600 fewer PAs. Jeter's run is a couple of runs/650 better than Rice, 6 runs better than Dawson. Of course you could also take McGriff at 29/650 but only 7900 PA or Dick Allen at 435 Rbat in just 7100 PA as counter-examples.

Still, Jeter was at least HoF borderline just on his bat, even if he'd been a 1B/LF his whole career. That version of Jeter probably needs 3000 hits or close to clear the line but the career would have still lasted long enough to do that.

By the way ... Murray -12 dWAR, Molitor -7 in about the same PA as Jeter. Gwynn -8 in just over 10,000 PA; Carew just -2. But guys like Williams and McGriff are -18 and Allen a whopping -16 in just 7300 PA. Harrah was just -1 in 8800 PA (but not nearly the hitter), Franco just -3 in 9800. I've noted before that Jeter's post-30 dWAR is about the same range as Banks and Yount after injuries forced their move. If dWAR is remotely correct, Jeter should have been moved off SS early in his career, certainly no later than 30. But Jeter the 2B/3B/LF/CF still looks like a HoFer. He's kept out maybe if he spent most of his career as a 1B/DH but there's no reason to believe his defense was that bad.

EDIT: I forgot Dawson 2 dWAR (exc for a half-time RF) and Rice -8 in 9000 PA.
   21. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 05:59 PM (#6038771)
I think it's unfair to say Jeter was the worst defensive player in the history of baseball.
Would you accept "least valuable defensive player in the history of baseball"?
   22. Mayor Blomberg Posted: September 08, 2021 at 06:00 PM (#6038772)
It's not worst defensive player in history, it's worst defensive player relative to position in history.


No, it's not even that. On a season by season or other rate metrics there would have been worse. What he is is the person whose career allowed gim to accrue the most negative dWAR at his position.

vi is right, period; the worst is by definition so bad that he would be stuffed in the corner, at first or at DH.
   23. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: September 08, 2021 at 06:14 PM (#6038775)
Probably more importantly, in RF he's viewed as just a good player, not a star. He probably doesn't bat as high in the lineup, and almost certainly isn't a lifelong Yankee. Jeter was treated like a 100 WAR player in his career, because his defensive failings were ignored by 90% of people. He got the opportunities usually afforded better players. He hit like Nick Swisher. In the OF that's not a star, even if you play forever.


Maybe I'm giving Joe Torre too much credit, but I don't see why he moves the theoretical corner OF Jeter down in the order. Different story if Dusty is his manager, perhaps.

Jeter didn't have a bad offensive year until 2010 (age 36), and even then he had a 270/340 AVG/OBP. At that point he had 2,926 hits. So no way the Yankees bench him. He then had two more good seasons which put him over 3300 hits. So at worst he finishes about 150 hits less than his current career total.

His health was what afforded him all of his opportunities, not whether the public saw him as an all-time 100 WAR type of player.
   24. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6038777)

Not sure why alternate universe Jeter is a RFer instead of a CFer. Robin Yount moved from SS to CF about halfway through his career, put up a 115 OPS+ in a career of similar length to Jeter's, and was a first ballot HOFer.
   25. John DiFool2 Posted: September 08, 2021 at 06:25 PM (#6038779)
The Reds took Chad Mottola, a college OF, with the 5th pick in the '92 draft. He put up -0.9 WAR in 59 games.


I picked him up in a Baseball Mogul ~2000 edition run-through, and he was the slugging cornerstone of a 5 straight World Series winning dynasty, 450 home runs. Oddly unlike many of his teammates he didn't get into the Hall (basically the modern equivalent of Gil Hodges I guess).
   26. Howie Menckel Posted: September 08, 2021 at 07:06 PM (#6038781)
A 115 OPS+ isn't generally HoF worthy. I'm guessing if Jeter came up as a RF, he's not in Cooperstown.


How many rightfielders have 3400 hits


if only there was another current BBTF thread about a RF with 3,089 hits and a 109 career OPS+.
;)
   27. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 07:22 PM (#6038786)
He almost certainly doesn't put up those numbers as a RF. Even if he's average defensively, his WAR goes down. And he won't be average at 36-40. Frank Robinson has worse dWAR than Jeter. He won't be getting 700 PA at 34-40.

Probably more importantly, in RF he's viewed as just a good player, not a star. He probably doesn't bat as high in the lineup, and almost certainly isn't a lifelong Yankee. Jeter was treated like a 100 WAR player in his career, because his defensive failings were ignored by 90% of people. He got the opportunities usually afforded better players. He hit like Nick Swisher. In the OF that's not a star, even if you play forever.

He's clearly a HoF, but lucky that his career unfurled about as perfectly as possible. He's hugely over-rated.


Somehow Jeter has the exact same rbat at Dwight Evans (your mythological Jeter RF), with an OPS+ of 115 in 12602 PA vs Evans 127 OPS+ in 10569 PA). Jeter's rfield + rpos = -109 vs Evans at -47. Jeter does pick up ground on the bases, with +63 rbaser & rdp vs -3 for Evans. Put this all together and Jeter's at 307 (rounded down to 306) RAA vs Evans at 303. Due to better overall players Jeter edges out Evans on WAR 71 to 67 - regardless, these are two very similar players *WHEN ACCOUNTING FOR VALUE*. Jeter did have a better 2-year peak, although Evans was REALLY hurt by the strike. Give him another 50 games and he is at a 9-10 WAR season (although Ricky probably still prevents him from getting an MVP) and Evans probably plays another year to get to 400 HR's.

So yeah, even if Jeter was a great defensive RF like Evans, he's barely in the HOF - and if he is, it's because of the Yankee narrative.
   28. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 08, 2021 at 07:30 PM (#6038788)
Not sure why alternate universe Jeter is a RFer instead of a CFer. Robin Yount moved from SS to CF about halfway through his career, put up a 115 OPS+ in a career of similar length to Jeter's, and was a first ballot HOFer.


Ah, the old, "hey he's a SS, how bad can he possibly be in the outfield" argument. This of course allows me, once again, to remind everyone of the great Hanley Ramirez debacle.

We must never, ever assume it can be done or done as well as Yount did it. As we know if Luzinski and Sheffield had had a love child and it played LF, that child would've been better at LF then Hanley Ramirez. A decent high school sophomore was better then Hanley Ramirez in LF.

Jeter's issues at SS weren't catching the ball, it was range. You think his range would've been as good as Yount's in CF? I actually don't think so. You think his jump throw plays in RF? I don't think so. Jeter should've been put at 3B or 2B and he probably would've done ok there.
Dude could rake though, a no doubt HOFer.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: September 08, 2021 at 07:48 PM (#6038793)
Yount: as I sorta alluded to, TZ rates Yount as a pretty lousy CF (-72 runs, -6 dWAR). The young Jeter probably would have been better than that but dWAR suggests he'd have "needed" to be moved out of CF pretty early too. From 96-99, Bernie was rated as a pretty poor CF so it might have made sense to put Jeter there. Certainly after 30, Bernie was pretty bad out there but Jeter put up -3.5 dWAR in the first 5 of those years himself, not much better than Bernie. Jeter sorta maintained that level of bad in his early 30s so maybe he could have been left in CF then.

By the way, although it was really a 9-year peak, over his best 13 seasons, Bernie averaged 27 Rbat/650 but in only 7700 PA. He's one of those guys who needed some solid average seasons outside of that to get serious HoF consideration. But another good Jeter comp -- 304/390/494, 131 OPS+, -5 dWAR, 4.3 WAR/650 for Bernie 23-35; 318/390/461, 122 OPS+, -5 dWAR, 4.6 WAR/650 for Jeter 23-35. The per-650 WAR gap is mainly baserunning; there's a big total WAR gap mainly due to 2 full seasons of PAs (which is a lot over 13 years).

Bernie's similar in that we need to decide how much faith we have in the defensive numbers. In that 13-year stretch, his Rfield costs him 9-10 wins -- those 9-10 wins would have put him at 60 WAR in that time. In that stretch, he won 4 GG so another guy whose rep didn't match his numbers. I won't be surprised if he's eventually a VC pick.
   30. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 07:57 PM (#6038795)
Dwight Evans with 3400 hits, a .310 average and 5 rings would have been a HOFer. Obviously.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: September 08, 2021 at 08:08 PM (#6038797)
So yeah, even if Jeter was a great defensive RF like Evans, he's barely in the HOF - and if he is, it's because of the Yankee narrative.

More likely it would be because of 3,000 hits (not walks) and being excellent in his 20s so that people started thinking of him as a potential HoFer when he turns 30.

And let's be honest, Jeter's narrative is much more than a "Yankees narrative." It's also a very attractive man dating starlets narrative (granted, hard to do in Cincy but not exactly easy in NY or LA); it's an "among the most respected guys in the game" narrative. Remember, it wasn't the press voting for those GGs he didn't deserve, that was baseball people rating him as the best. There probably aren't more than a dozen baseball people of the 2000s who don't think we're nuts.

Obviously all of that goes hand in hand -- excellent player on a great team in a huge market becomes a celebrity is not a surprise. But I think he's pretty clearly the most famous baseball player of the last 50 years at least and that's a lot more than Yankees.**

** Not a lot of candidates. Garvey at his peak -- which, fair enough, might have topped Jeter given Garvey was popping up on stuff like Fantasy Island and Hollywood Squares (and he and Cyndy were on a thing called "Tattletales"!). Nolan Ryan was pretty famous at the end. Griffey of course. Mac & Sosa in 98 but that didn't age well for either of them.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: September 08, 2021 at 08:15 PM (#6038801)
But I think he's pretty clearly the most famous baseball player of the last 50 years at least and that's a lot more than Yankees.**

** Not a lot of candidates.


Top three per decade (limit one decade per player)

70s: Pete, Reggie, Garvey
80s: Ryan?, Ripken?, Puckett? (soft decade for baseball celebs)
90s: Griffey, Sosa, McGwire
00s: Jeter, Bonds, Arod
10s: Harper, Trout, Ortiz?

   33. Rally Posted: September 08, 2021 at 08:25 PM (#6038803)
(All of this is really just an excuse to link to Mike Emeigh's work on this.)


Looked at the first of those links from 19 years ago. I see Tango Tiger entered the discussion and laid out all the variables you’d need to create a truly reliable fielding system. Wonder if he ever did anything with that idea.
   34. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 08:29 PM (#6038804)
Garvey was popping up on stuff like Fantasy Island and Hollywood Squares

Derek Jeter did host an episode of SNL.
   35. Walt Davis Posted: September 08, 2021 at 08:31 PM (#6038805)
Again, just as a batter, he's Rose, he's Raines, he's Gwynn, he's Ichiro, he's Murray, he's Molitor. And he lasted for over 12,000 PA. He's 6th all-time in hits -- that's not compiling, that's 6th all-time in hits. Of course that guy makes it as a corner OF. Maybe Dwight Evans deserves to make it too but that doesn't mean Jeter doesn't.

The main argument for Raines was that he reached base as often as Gwynn (385 vs 388 OBPs in about the same 10,000+ PA). In Jeter's first 10,500 PA, he had a 385 OBP too (and 2,926 H). Looking at their first 10,000ish PAs:

Rbat: Gwynn 403, Jeter 356, Raines 291
Rbase + Rdp: Raines 123, Jeter 67, Gwynn 29
Add those up: Gwynn 432, Jeter 423, Raines 414
dWAR: Raines -9, Gwynn -8, Jeter -5
WAR: Raines 69, Gwynn 69, Jeter 69
WAA: Gwynn 37, Raines 35, Jeter 35

How much closer do you want guys to be?

Jeter's last 4 seasons cost him 4 dWAR, 4 points of OPS+ and 5 WAA. So sure, other than however long he needed to get to 3,000 hits, Jeter the LF/RF probably doesn't get another 2000 PAs.
   36. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 08:33 PM (#6038806)
And let's be honest, Jeter's narrative is much more than a "Yankees narrative." It's also a very attractive man dating starlets narrative (granted, hard to do in Cincy but not exactly easy in NY or LA); it's an "among the most respected guys in the game" narrative.


Im trying hard to understand what you're saying here. Are you saying his dating tendencies would have helped his HoF considerations?

I guess that's farfetched. But then what are you saying? YOu're talking about his esteem or aura or something? But wasnt it you just last week arguing that the HoF is to Confer not Confirm greatness?

Like I said Im trying to understand what you're getting at. Rather than belabor any of these points; I'll just stop now and see what the response is.
   37. JRVJ Posted: September 08, 2021 at 09:04 PM (#6038820)
8, I've long been aware of the argument that part of Jeter's problem was the way the Yankees positioned their infield defense.

The one thing that I fault Jeter for (especially latter career Jeter, where the defensive issue was pretty clear) is that he never pushed the Yankees on his position, be it because he was too proud to accept that there was a problem that needed to be solved or because he was too intellectually incurious to look into the possibility that there was a way of improving his game.
   38. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: September 08, 2021 at 09:22 PM (#6038826)
80s: Ryan?, Ripken?, Puckett? (soft decade for baseball celebs)

Probably Canseco over Puckett, at least.
   39. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: September 08, 2021 at 09:35 PM (#6038829)
Brett for the '80s too. Not as good as Schmidt, but more famous.
   40. villageidiom Posted: September 08, 2021 at 09:44 PM (#6038833)
When the Yankees got A-Rod he probably should have shifted to second, third, or center.
As it turns out, in the long term the Yankees made the right decision there. A-Rod physically fell apart faster than Jeter, and probably would have had to be moved off SS shortly after taking over the position.

Ah, the old, "hey he's a SS, how bad can he possibly be in the outfield" argument. This of course allows me, once again, to remind everyone of the great Hanley Ramirez debacle.
I mean, you know of all people I'm not going to argue any SS can play any position. But Jeter had the skills to be a good outfielder. Hanley, by the time he shifted to LF, only had SS skills that don't matter in the outfield, or SS deficiencies that became amplified out there (like arm accuracy).
   41. Howie Menckel Posted: September 08, 2021 at 09:45 PM (#6038834)
I participated in a handful of small-group post-game interviews of Jeter in the clubhouse over the years.

the notion that he is a deliberate thinker who carefully mulls each question, then takes pains to be diplomatic, amused me much, as it seemed to me like he was perhaps thinking hard about the name of that gal he was meeting that night but then snapped out of it and gave the canned response.

look, maybe there was wood burning up there - but if so, I couldn't detect it.

he came across as the Peter Sellers character in the "Being There" movie - once a narrative is established, everything else falls into place.

all that said, he seems to have done well keeping himself out of trouble even living in a fishbowl and has never struck me as a menace to society. so good or him, and now he's immortalized.

and for his acolytes.... click for your chance to buy an authentic 2013 game-used Jeter-autographed baseball for just $3,206.99. they are "almost gone," the website notes.

remarkably, the top 20+ most expensive Jeter items there all are "almost gone" - led by the $356,364.99 bargain to buy a "1993 Upper Deck SP Baseball Case With 18 Sealed Boxes Derek Jeter Rookie RC RARE"

not really sure if the extra 0.000000000000000000000000000000000001 added to your net worth there is worth the potential fan perception of tackiness, but what do I know.
   42. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 08, 2021 at 10:00 PM (#6038839)
In a way, I think of a guy who is the opposite of Derek Jeter being...Adrian Beltre:

- Not at all famous in popular culture
- Way more valuable than Jeter, but most casual fans would say that Jeter was probably way more valuable than Beltre
- Added a lot of value through his defense - and was probably underrated defensively
- Was very, very good until his last season, when he was still good enough to play longer - but he got out with relatively little fanfare, in a low-key way
- Played for several teams
- Played in one World Series, but did not really add any narrative value through the playoffs

If you were starting a team, and you could pick Jeter or Beltre to have on your team for their career, who would you pick? It's Beltre, right?
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 10:06 PM (#6038842)
If you were starting a team, and you could pick Jeter or Beltre to have on your team for their career, who would you pick? It's Beltre, right?

Is that even a question? It's Beltre by a mile. I'm pretty sure Beltre would have been a much better defensive SS.
   44. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2021 at 10:08 PM (#6038843)
The sad thing about Beltre, is that this is the guy who should be in the discussion for greatest third baseman of all time, and will never even enter the discussion... Schmidt owns the first spot, but Brett is second probably and I'm not sure he's better than Beltre.
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 10:12 PM (#6038848)
The sad thing about Beltre, is that this is the guy who should be in the discussion for greatest third baseman of all time, and will never even enter the discussion... Schmidt owns the first spot, but Brett is second probably and I'm not sure he's better than Beltre.

I don't think it's sad. To be in the conversation is a huge honor. We're far more sure about offensive value than defensive. With Schmidt particularly, he was an elite defensive 3B, but Rfield from that era are much more regressed than when Beltre played. Schmidt could easily be missing 5-10 WAR.
   46. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2021 at 10:21 PM (#6038851)
The sad thing is that he's not going to be included in the discussion, when as you point out, it should be an honor to be included in the discussion, and he'll never see that remark.
   47. The Duke Posted: September 08, 2021 at 10:50 PM (#6038858)
I thought Jeters speech today was very powerful. I had never really followed him so this was one of my first non- stat exposures to him. He came across as a big personality, oozed leadership, and had a well-prepared speech. I was impressed.

Simmons did a nice job today discussing THE big baseball issue which is “boring” baseball. That was important and I hope Manfred heard it. And it was nice to see him talking about Miller. As a cardinal fan, it was nice to hear George kissell’s name at Cooperstown.

Walker’s speech was fun and more of what you expect on a day like today. Nice day for Expos and Rockies fans.

Fehr did a wonderful job talking about Miller. It was dry, but heartfelt. If Marvin Miller isn’t a hall of famer who is ?

Great day and let’s hope the writers and committees can come up with one live candidate for next year. Last year was disappointing.
   48. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 09, 2021 at 12:30 AM (#6038873)
In a way, I think of a guy who is the opposite of Derek Jeter being...Adrian Beltre:

- Not at all famous in popular culture
Well, he had the head-touching thing.
   49. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 09, 2021 at 12:32 AM (#6038874)
oozed leadership
Uh…what does that even mean?
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: September 09, 2021 at 12:35 AM (#6038876)
- Not at all famous in popular culture


Hey, he's famous enough to appear in a JC Penney digital marketing piece. So what the host didn't know who he was.
   51. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 09, 2021 at 03:32 AM (#6038880)
80s: Ryan?, Ripken?, Puckett? (soft decade for baseball celebs)


Rickey? Gooden? Mattingly? Fernando Valenzuela?
   52. Adam Starblind Posted: September 09, 2021 at 03:55 AM (#6038881)
51, all four of those before Ryan/Ripken/Puckett!

Other 86 Mets too — Carter, Strawberry, Hernandez.

   53. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 09, 2021 at 04:16 AM (#6038882)
Jeter and Larkin both played from ages 22-40 (ignoring Jeter's 15-game cup of coffee at age 21). They were equivalent offensive players; Jeter hit .378/.440, Larkin .371/.444. Larkin, of course, was superior on defense.

The difference is entirely in-season durability. Over 19 seasons, Jeter averaged 661 PA. Larkin averaged 477 PA. That's nearly 200 PA/year where you have to play Pokey Reese and his 68 OPS+. The Yankees could keep Luis Sojo and his 71 OPS+ on the bench.

WAR, I think, accurately reflects this; Jeter gives back on defense what he adds with "200 PA over futility infielder level" and they come out even.

They're side-by-side in JAWS: 12th and 13th among MLB shortstops. I'd rank both of them ahead of Trammell and Yount (not by hard number crunching, but from personal observation).

Are they in the all-time top ten? Harder to say. John Henry Lloyd was better than both of them. Willie Wells is VERY comparable.
   54. bfan Posted: September 09, 2021 at 07:43 AM (#6038885)
if only there was another current BBTF thread about a RF with 3,089 hits and a 109 career OPS+.


I assume with those credentials you must mean that player was a high-end shortstop who accumulated a lot of value as a fielder at that key infield position.
   55. Darren Posted: September 09, 2021 at 09:43 AM (#6038891)
The legend of Jeter's greatness would be even larger if he had played the OF. Imagine Jeter cutting off a throw from Jeter and flipping it to Posada to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate. Legendary!

Now, you might be wondering, would Jeter make such an errant throw in the first place? And yes, he would, because he'd know that Jeter would be there to make the flip. The only real question is whether in this scenario, Jeter would also be catching and making the tag on Giambi. I suspect yes, he would.
   56. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 09, 2021 at 10:12 AM (#6038895)
oozed leadership

Uh…what does that even mean?


Ask the gift basket recipients.
   57. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 09, 2021 at 11:06 AM (#6038902)
Ah, the old, "hey he's a SS, how bad can he possibly be in the outfield" argument. This of course allows me, once again, to remind everyone of the great Hanley Ramirez debacle.

We must never, ever assume it can be done or done as well as Yount did it. As we know if Luzinski and Sheffield had had a love child and it played LF, that child would've been better at LF then Hanley Ramirez. A decent high school sophomore was better then Hanley Ramirez in LF.

Jeter's issues at SS weren't catching the ball, it was range. You think his range would've been as good as Yount's in CF? I actually don't think so. You think his jump throw plays in RF? I don't think so. Jeter should've been put at 3B or 2B and he probably would've done ok there.
Dude could rake though, a no doubt HOFer.


I don't know whether Jeter would have been a serviceable CFer. But assuming he couldn't have seems to be as unfavorable to him as possible. I don't assume he would have been good in CF (although the numbers say Yount wasn't a good defensive CFer either), but my best guess is he would have been a passable CFer during the first half of his career, and then a decent corner OFer after that. He was fast, had a good arm, and great overall baseball instincts. Those things could have made up for a bad first step.

You can invent a lot of alternate timelines where Jeter doesn't get to 3,000 hits or win multiple WS rings, and in that case I doubt he'd be a HOFer. But I think if he stayed healthy and put up the offensive numbers that he did, teams would find a spot in the lineup for him and he would have put up HOF numbers. A .300+ average and 3,000 hits still gets you there.
   58. GregD Posted: September 09, 2021 at 12:00 PM (#6038908)
I’m no jeter fan and I love Larkin and the Reds but if I was a GM and was told you can plug-in either career I’d take Jeter for the reason Ardo gave. You’re done with a very challenging position for a decade and a half. Larkin was so amazing when healthy but you always need a guy ready to jump in and those guys are usually not at all good and not easy to find. The best thing Jeter gave the Yankees was the capacity to worry about other things
   59. Ron J Posted: September 09, 2021 at 12:35 PM (#6038915)
#58 In fact Larkin missed enough time that the Reds kind of planned around it. When I looked at this (quite some time ago) I found that the Reds' backup SS during Larkin's time were pretty comparable to Manny Alexander.

That's not wonderful, but they tended not to have an open wound when he went down.

   60. Jack Sommers Posted: September 09, 2021 at 12:53 PM (#6038917)
Ketel Marte was a SS, then 2b, moved to CF. It seemed to work out so so in 2019, but 2021 has been a disaster defensively for Marte in CF

He's -15 rDRS, -34 rDRS/yr

That's probably overstating the problem somewhat. Statcast OAA has him -5, which is last (42nd) among centerfielders and 110th out of 125 outfielders overall

UZR has him -4, -9/150

I watch every D-backs game, and can say the eyeball test confirms he's been quite bad out there. But he doesn't want to be there either, he wants to play 2b. And he suffered two hamstring injuries this year, so running around on the turf in Chase field can't be helping him,

Anyway, just another piece of information about middle infielders trying to play CF
   61. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 09, 2021 at 01:21 PM (#6038919)
Again, just as a batter, he's Rose, he's Raines, he's Gwynn, he's Ichiro, he's Murray, he's Molitor.


He's Molitor. Molitor hit .306/.369/.448 while Jeter hit .310/.377/.440, in almost the same number of PAs. And Molitor, as a mediocre second baseman/third baseman turned DH, would also seem to be a reasonable defensive comp for Jeter.
   62. . . . . . . Posted: September 09, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6038922)
Jeter also has 158 postseason games (and more than 700PA) of his usual ~300/360/450 hitting. That created enormous value.

Larkin . . . doesn't. He was really good in the 1995 playoffs though, bless his heart.
   63. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 09, 2021 at 01:44 PM (#6038924)
The Molitor/Jeter comp is very interesting - it seems like a good fit.

Actually, I recently stumbled upon a YouTube video of the 1982 World Series, which was the first WS I was old enough to remember really getting into (I was 8). Watching the Brewers' lineup, I was struck by the fact they had these two young future Hall of Famers playing 3B and SS - but neither would end up being known primarily for playing those positions. Listening to the announcers, the way they talked about those two was very, very different from the way they talked about the 3rd Hall of Famer in that lineup, Ted Simmons. Simmons was talked about the way they talked about Cecil Cooper or Ben Oglivie or something.

Also, if you had asked me 39 years ago who from those two teams was going to the Hall of Fame, I would have guessed Yount and Ozzie Smith, maybe Molitor, probably Fingers and Sutter (because closers were talked about as the most important players on the team), but probably not Simmons. Maybe Kaat, who had 280 wins by then. And definitely Keith Hernandez - in hindsight, Hernandez might have "felt" at that moment in time like the second or third most likely HOFer in those games - he was a big star. But I guess he didn't have enough of a post-peak career...
   64. SoSH U at work Posted: September 09, 2021 at 01:49 PM (#6038925)
I was struck by the fact they had these two young future Hall of Famers playing 3B and SS - but neither would end up being known primarily for playing those positions.


I think Robin Yount is primarily known as a SS.
   65. villageidiom Posted: September 09, 2021 at 02:10 PM (#6038930)
Ketel Marte was a SS, then 2b, moved to CF. It seemed to work out so so in 2019, but 2021 has been a disaster defensively for Marte in CF


If I recall correctly, the skills needed to do well at 2B and in CF are significantly different. Of the old scouting defensive tools, 2B needs instincts, first step, hands, and arm accuracy. In CF instincts are also important, but sprint speed and arm strength are key. SS needs both sets, really, and if he moved from SS to 2B to utilize his positive skills and hide his weaker skills then a subsequent move to CF might do the opposite. I don't know if that's the case for Marte but that's basically what happened with Hanley.

When I said Jeter would've been a good CF, keep in mind when I was saying it long ago Bernie Williams was the CF. Jeter had Bernie's skills plus a stronger and more accurate arm.
   66. Sweatpants Posted: September 09, 2021 at 02:12 PM (#6038932)
Jeter also has 158 postseason games (and more than 700PA) of his usual ~300/360/450 hitting. That created enormous value.

Larkin . . . doesn't.
Larkin hit .338/.397/.465 in the playoffs, so he took advantage of what opportunities he had. You already looked that up, but it felt like something that should be said. He'd have had more postseason PA had he played his whole career in the three-division era.
   67. SoSH U at work Posted: September 09, 2021 at 02:12 PM (#6038933)
Jeter had Bernie's skills plus a stronger and more accurate arm.


To be fair, so did you.
   68. . . . . . . Posted: September 09, 2021 at 02:19 PM (#6038935)
Larkin hit .338/.397/.465 in the playoffs, so he took advantage of what opportunities he had. You already looked that up, but it felt like something that should be said. He'd have had more postseason PA had he played his whole career in the three-division era.


No one questions Larkin's peak ability - he was obviously better than Jeter - but Jeter created more value through durability, lineup position, and better teams. Larkin couldn't control that, but control's got nothing to do with it if I am assessing value as opposed to ability.

To expand on this a bit more - context matters hugely for value. Keith Hernandez was a more valuable player in 1981 than he would be in 2021, since his talents were better suited to the game of that time. A guy who came up in 2021 with Keith Hernandez's talents wouldn't have been as valuable, even if he was equally "good" in some sort of theoretical objective neutral context. But what about a defensive specialist 3B in the deadball era? Does Joey Gallo's skill play with the bigger parks of the 1960s and 1970s, or is he Dave Kingman (or worse?). These are really interesting questions, but don't go to value. Value is quantifiable, constant between generations and contexts, and a function of ability, opportunity, context and durability.

Jeter is extremely valuable relative to his (already high) ability. Larkin is unusually unvaluable relative to his (remarkably high) ability. So Jeter ends up being more valuable, even though Larkin was the better player and probably would've been more valuable than Jeter if he was put into Jeter's context. But, he wasn't.
   69. Adam Starblind Posted: September 09, 2021 at 02:29 PM (#6038936)

Larkin . . . doesn't. He was really good in the 1995 playoffs though, bless his heart


And he famously declined a trade to the World-Series-Bound 2000 Mets. Gotta want it, Barry.
   70. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 09, 2021 at 02:40 PM (#6038939)

Postseason opportunity is another area where the 1994 strike might have hurt Larkin. The Reds were in first place, albeit only by a half game, when the season ended.


No one questions Larkin's peak ability - he was obviously better than Jeter - but Jeter created more value through durability, lineup position, and better teams. Larkin couldn't control that, but control's got nothing to do with it if I am assessing value as opposed to ability.


FWIW, Larkin mainly batted #1-3 in the lineup; Jeter mainly batted #1-2. I don't think that made much of a difference.
   71. Sweatpants Posted: September 09, 2021 at 02:57 PM (#6038943)
To expand on this a bit more - context matters hugely for value. Keith Hernandez was a more valuable player in 1981 than he would be in 2021, since his talents were better suited to the game of that time. A guy who came up in 2021 with Keith Hernandez's talents wouldn't have been as valuable, even if he was equally "good" in some sort of theoretical objective neutral context. But what about a defensive specialist 3B in the deadball era? Does Joey Gallo's skill play with the bigger parks of the 1960s and 1970s, or is he Dave Kingman (or worse?). These are really interesting questions, but don't go to value. Value is quantifiable, constant between generations and contexts, and a function of ability, opportunity, context and durability.

Jeter is extremely valuable relative to his (already high) ability. Larkin is unusually unvaluable relative to his (remarkably high) ability. So Jeter ends up being more valuable, even though Larkin was the better player and probably would've been more valuable than Jeter if he was put into Jeter's context. But, he wasn't.
Postseason opportunity isn't a counterfactual on par with dropping Larkin into the Deadball Era or questioning whether Jeter could have handled shortstop on the Riverfront turf, though. It's a note of the fact that Jeter got to play all those games that Larkin didn't, much closer to adjusting for war credit or schedule differences. No one argues that Musial should rank above Williams because Musial was much more valuable to his teams in 1943, 1944, 1952, and 1953.

That's very different from noting that Jeter's durability compared with Larkin's relative fragility allowed Jeter to make up for the difference in pure talent between the two.
   72. Howie Menckel Posted: September 09, 2021 at 04:57 PM (#6038955)
And he famously declined a trade to the World-Series-Bound 2000 Mets. Gotta want it, Barry.

of course the Mets famously adjusting by adding the offensive (literally) stylings of 35-year-old Mike Bordick, who racked up a 76 OPS+ in a half-season with the Mets at SS - then topping it off with an RBI-free 4 for 33 postseason effort.

the Mets were impressed enough to not re-sign him, and he returned to the Orioles for two more forgettable seasons.

one of the four prospects the Mets dealt away to get Mr. Bordick was 3B Melvin Mora, who had huge seasons for the O's in 2003 and 2004 at age 31/32, followed by four cromulent seasons after that (with 104 RBI at age 36).
   73. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: September 09, 2021 at 10:53 PM (#6038980)
there's no reason to believe his defense was that bad.

Considering Jeter was the last person in the stadium to react to a batted ball, including vendors with their backs turned, his poor defense almost certainly would have traveled.
   74. Ron J Posted: September 09, 2021 at 11:19 PM (#6038983)
#73. He did win 5 gold gloves. I don't mention this to argue that he actually deserved them. Gold glove voting simply wasn't taken seriously back then. Still, his defensive rep among the coaching community obviously wasn't terrible. What this really highlights is how difficult it is to evaluate defense based on occasional observation. He wasn't obviously visually terrible. As in the equivalent of Kevin Reimer.

Indeed he looked better in the field than Cal Ripken did. A lot of people couldn't accept that Ripken's skill set (an elite arm that allowed him to play deeper than anybody else) and exceptional positioning (plus great reads so that he was usually moving in the right direction sooner than most) made him an elite defender.

Ripken was better at converting batted balls into outs. Jeter got more style points. By now it's almost universally accepted that Ripken was a substantially better defensive player, but back then that was not the case.

   75. Howie Menckel Posted: September 10, 2021 at 12:16 AM (#6038986)
I wish I had trademarked the term I gave Jeter so many years ago - "deceptively slow."

in a vacuum, he SEEMS to do the right things until it's pastadivingJeter (TM).

about a decade ago, I watched a parallel-screen video of Jeter and an actually good MLB SS - it might have been Vizquel.

it was astonishing. a good SS reacts seemingly simultaneously to the crack of the bat, and is on the move like a panther. Jeter? well, he just stood there for what, a second or two? and that's all it takes.

so the good fielder ranges into the spot and makes the play, while Jeter dives and fails - but oh, so, gracefully.

iirc, Jeter was very good at tracking balls down into short LF, which is nice but not as common as grounders up the middle. he shaded himself to maximize his actual skill (which, if left unchecked, is kind of what most athletes do). I believe it was Mick Kelleher who was the infield coach who realigned his positioning, contributing significantly to that seemingly odd "dead cat bounce" in the latter part of his career.
   76. coppermist72 Posted: September 10, 2021 at 01:51 PM (#6039035)
Unsure if I lost the spirit nof this topic but never thought of Jeter as a butcher in the field to warrant worst defensive player ever label. As Red Sox fan, think that goes to Jose Offerman, LOL but I felt Jeter did not have the greatest range but was dependable overall and used his smarts. His longevity means something as he was healthy most of his career and kept in shape to remain durable.
   77. Jack Sommers Posted: September 10, 2021 at 07:17 PM (#6039105)
If I recall correctly, the skills needed to do well at 2B and in CF are significantly different. Of the old scouting defensive tools, 2B needs instincts, first step, hands, and arm accuracy. In CF instincts are also important, but sprint speed and arm strength are key. SS needs both sets, really, and if he moved from SS to 2B to utilize his positive skills and hide his weaker skills then a subsequent move to CF might do the opposite. I don't know if that's the case for Marte but that's basically what happened with Hanley.

When I said Jeter would've been a good CF, keep in mind when I was saying it long ago Bernie Williams was the CF. Jeter had Bernie's skills plus a stronger and more accurate arm.


He seemed OK at SS, actually even rated +6 rDRS in limited time at SS in 2017 while Nick Ahmed was injured. They moved him to 2b in 2018 and he was +13 while Ahmed won GG at SS.

Ketel has plenty of arm for either SS or CF. He just doesn't get good reads on balls in the outfield and this year the hamstring injuries have kept him from being able to make up for it like he did in 2019

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