Skip to content

No, Jeter’s final season isn’t that much better than Mantle’s, DiMaggio’s and Mattingly’s

Jul 18, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT

Jeter Respect AP

Weird column from Mike Vaccaro at the Post today. In it he looks at Derek Jeter‘s swan song and compares it to Mickey Mantle’s, Joe DiMaggio’s and Don Mattingly’s. The upshot: Mantle, DiMaggio and Mattingly all had their glorious careers end rather ignominiously, with their bodies hobbled and their production a shadow of what it once was. Jeter, on the other hand, is “sticking the landing” better, still being reliable and atoning nicely for his 2013, which was lost to injury:

Could he have a skid like the one that nearly obliterated Mattingly’s last go-round? He could. He’s had stretches of ineffectiveness this year. But again, when you’ve watched Jeter as long as you have, you understand something: There’s no way he will allow himself to become a burden. It seems he’s come to peace with who he is at age 40: a contributor, a leader, a captain, a player you’d certainly rather have on your team than not, a star by reputation rather than repetition. Reliably reliable.

I guess he’s certainly in better physical shape than those other guys were but it’s not like they were chopped liver while Jeter remains some prime contributor:

  • Mantle’s final season by OPS+: 143
  • DiMaggio’s final season by OPS+: 116
  • Mattingly’s final season by OPS+: 97
  • Jeter’s final season by OPS+ 81

I get that the optics were bad for those other guys given that they were hobbled physically while Jeter is not, but I feel like the stories told about the end to their careers — and careers like that of Willie Mays and other major stars — are often misleading. Mantle was still an extremely valuable hitter and most people who say otherwise don’t appreciate how good an offensive season he was actually having in 1968 given that it was The Year of the Pitcher. The other guys weren’t what they used to be, but to say they left on a terrible note says more about what we thought of them in their primes, not what they actually were in their last year.

Jeter really isn’t that different than them. He’s still useful given how thin shortstop is in major league baseball, but he has fallen off just as much if not more than the other retiring Yankees legends have. It’s the same story that can be told about most players when they reach this point, actually. Not a different one in any notable respect.

It just feels like yet another instance of telling stories we want to be true rather than stories that actually are true. We were sad that Mickey Mantle didn’t look like Mickey Mantle anymore so we overstate his decline. We’re generally OK with how Jeter looks now so we overstate the value of his final season.

Latest Posts
  1. Rays lose Steven Souza to finger injury, activate John Jaso from 60-day disabled list

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT

    Orioles Rays Spring Baseball AP

    Jaso has been out since Opening Day with a bruised left wrist.

  2. Former scout sues Major League Baseball over minimum wage violations, collusion

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    mlb logo large

    Many have sured Major League Baseball over such things in the past.

  3. Jonathan Papelbon makes it clear, again: He wants out of Philadelphia

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

    Jonathan Papelbon AP

    “I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it.”

  4. A fan was hit in the face by a foul ball in the Braves-Brewers game last night

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Miller Park Getty Images

    And even Andrelton Simmons, the best defensive player in baseball, says he wouldn’t sit as close as that without protective netting.

  5. Jake Odorizzi is ready to rejoin the Rays’ rotation

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Jake Odorizzi AP

    Odorizzi threw 5.2 shutout innings on 73 pitches in a minor-league rehab start Monday.

  6. Looking at the All-Star team snubs and surprises

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:28 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 8.10.14 AM Getty Images

    Short version: Ned Yost thinks this is an actual baseball game!

  7. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:55 AM EDT

    Brian Dozier Getty Images

    Not-an-All-Star Brian Dozier showed that, while his .500+ slugging percentage is apparently not worth a trip to Cincinnati, it’s worth something.

  8. Chris Sale throws a complete game, but his strikeout streak comes to an end

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:19 PM EDT

    Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) delivers to the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning on Monday, July 6, 2015, at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images) Getty Images

    White Sox ace Chris Sale entered tonight’s start against the Blue Jays with eight straight starts with 10 strikeouts or more, tying Pedro Martinez for the major league record. He fell a little bit short in his efforts of securing the record all for himself.

  9. Ricky Nolasco to undergo ankle surgery

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 31: Ricky Nolasco #47 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of the game on May 31, 2015 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Nolasco will have a bone fragment removed from his ankle.

  10. Video: Jon Lester collects first MLB hit after going 0-for-66 to begin career

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT

    CHICAGO, IL - JULY 06: Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated after his first career hit in the Major League against the St. Louis Cardinals during the second inning at Wrigley Field on July 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Lester was 0-for-66 (0-for-71 if you include the postseason) before collecting his first major league hit tonight.

  11. Bryce Harper declines invitation to participate in Home Run Derby

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPTVlNzk0MDkwYTBlNDI2NDRlMDBkMTM0NjZhZjgxMGVm Getty Images

    It’s a bummer that Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will have to miss the 2015 Home Run Derby due to a broken hamate bone, but now we can also scratch Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper off the list of participants.

  12. “Final Vote” balloting opens for 2015 MLB All-Star Game

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:27 PM EDT

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 03:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium on July 3, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Getty Images

    And once again, there’s no A-Rod to be found.

  13. Pitchers and reserves for 2015 MLB All-Star Game announced

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    All-Star Logo

    The starters for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game were announced on Sunday, so now it’s time to learn the pitchers and reserves who have been selected to represent the American League and National League at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14…

  14. Jacoby Ellsbury to be activated from disabled list Wednesday

    Jul 6, 2015, 6:13 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPTdlNTkxMTllYmY4MjA1NTk2MDdkMWY3Y2VjYWEyYTBh Getty Images

    Jacoby Ellsbury has been out since May 19 with a sprained right knee.

  15. Sports Illustrated recreated shots from some famous baseball cards

    Jul 6, 2015, 4:26 PM EDT

    Image (2) OscarGamble1976.jpg for post 4350

    Note: without the ‘fro, Gamble is just sort of blankly staring at you. We know this now.

  16. Josh Harrison out six weeks with torn thumb ligaments

    Jul 6, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT

    Josh Harrison AP

    Harrison has struggled to duplicate his breakout 2014 performance.

  17. Matt Garza goes on Brewers’ disabled list with shoulder injury

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:51 PM EDT

    Matt Garza AP

    Garza signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Milwaukee last offseason .

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. M. Sano (3398)
  2. J. Hamilton (3290)
  3. J. Ellsbury (3230)
  4. C. Gomez (2894)
  5. M. Cabrera (2893)
  1. B. Harper (2872)
  2. M. Banuelos (2822)
  3. P. Corbin (2816)
  4. S. Gray (2600)
  5. G. Springer (2598)