Jul 9, 2011, 7:25 PM EST
No doubt about it, Derek Jeter is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He rates as one of the top 50 position players in major league history, and on Saturday, he became the first Yankee to ever reach 3,000 hits.
The Yankees, though, have had better position players.
1. Babe Ruth – 149.6
2. Mickey Mantle – 120.2
3. Lou Gehrig – 118.4
4. Joe DiMaggio – 83.6
5. Derek Jeter – 70.1
6. Yogi Berra – 62.1
7. Bill Dickey – 54.4
8. Willie Randolph – 49.8
9. Bernie Williams – 47.3
10. Tony Lazzeri – 46.6
Pitching included, Ruth’s total is 172.0, barely edging out Barry Bonds for the top spot all-time.
But we already knew Ruth was No. 1. What about Jeter? WAR places him fifth at 70.1. That total places him 55th all time among position players.
I think I’d put him a bit higher than that on the league-wide list. WAR is giving him plenty of credit for spending his entire career at shortstop, but it’s also punishing him a horrible defensive shortstop. It says Jeter is 83.8 wins above replacement offensively, but 13.7 wins below replacement defensively.
And I don’t necessarily disagree that Jeter is that bad defensively. But Jeter deserves some credit beyond the WAR. He’s been a leading figure on five World Series champions, hitting .309/.377/.472 with 20 homers in 599 postseason at-bats.
WAR isn’t accounting for one bit of that.
So, why does the headline say Jeter isn’t one of the top five Yankees?
Because WAR is punishing Berra far more than it’s punished Jeter.
Catchers, because of their lack of playing time and hard-to-value defensive contributions, score poorly in WAR. Johnny Bench is 52nd all-time. Ivan Rodriguez is 69th. Berra is 96th. Mike Piazza is 116th.
Berra is better than that. He was a three-time American League MVP who played for 10 World Series winners. He’s one of the top three catchers of all-time by any measure, and that trumps Jeter’s accomplishments.
I don’t think it’s too controversial to put Jeter behind Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio and Berra. That’s quite a crew to trail. He’d be the all-time great in some organizations, but on the Yankees, he’ll have to settle for coming in sixth.
- Blue Jays sign Dayan Viciedo to a minor league deal 8
- Chris Sale will be sidelined for three weeks with foot fracture 11
- Aramis Ramirez says 2015 will be his last year 32
- Francisco Rodriguez re-signs with the Brewers 9
- If addiction is an illness — and it is — Josh Hamilton shouldn’t be suspended 307
- Pirates open to massive extension for Andrew McCutchen 18
- Report: Josh Hamilton had a relapse this offseason that “involved at least cocaine” 86
- Yankees don’t plan on having to pay A-Rod’s $30 million in home run milestone bonuses 52
- If addiction is an illness — and it is — Josh Hamilton shouldn’t be suspended (307)
- San Francisco — and all of California — will consider a smokeless tobacco ban that includes MLB parks (131)
- Curt Schilling lowers the boom on some men tweeting threats against his daughter (131)
- Ichiro is happy to be away from Joe Girardi (88)
- Report: Josh Hamilton had a relapse this offseason that “involved at least cocaine” (86)