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 EST

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. Dodgers sign Mike Adams to minor league contract

    Mar 1, 2015, 11:33 AM EST

    mike adams phillies getty Getty Images

    From the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Dodgers …

  2. Minnie Minoso has died at age 92

    Mar 1, 2015, 10:33 AM EST

    Minnie Minoso

    Minoso, a native of Cuba, batted .298/.389/.459 with 1,963 hits, 186 home runs, and 1,023 RBI in parts of 17 major league seasons split between the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Senators.

  3. Video: Rob Manfred at SSAC

    Mar 1, 2015, 8:49 AM EST

    manfred getty Getty Images

    Some highlights here from Rob Manfred’s sit-down Saturday at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference …

  4. Padres sign Tyson Gillies to a minor league deal

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:45 PM EST

    Tyson Gillies Getty Images

    The Padres signed outfielder Tyson Gillies to a minor league deal, perhaps hopeful he could turn his fortunes around with a new organization.

  5. Yasmany Tomas to work at third base and in the outfield during spring training

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:40 PM EST

    Yasmany Tomas Yasmany Tomas

    The Diamondbacks want Yasmany Tomas to get as many at-bats as possible during spring training, so he’ll be starting at both third base and in the outfield.

  6. Jimmy Rollins: Mets’ future “looks pretty bright”

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:35 PM EST

    Jimmy Rollins Jimmy Rollins

    It’s odd to hear Jimmy Rollins say nice things about the Mets.

  7. Blue Jays sign Dayan Viciedo to a minor league deal

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:27 PM EST

    Dayan Viciedo Dayan Viciedo

    The Blue Jays brought in Dayan Viciedo to hold the fort until Michael Saunders returns from his knee injury.

  8. Jose Reyes on former teammate Ruben Tejada: “Something’s wrong.”

    Feb 28, 2015, 7:25 PM EST

    Ruben Tejada Ruben Tejada

    Ruben Tejada has been something of a lightning rod, and he recently received criticism from a former teammate and mentor.

  9. Josh Hamilton’s potential suspension would begin at the start of the regular season

    Feb 28, 2015, 6:20 PM EST

    Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton

    Josh Hamilton’s punishment for using a drug of abuse may end up not being much of a punishment at all.

  10. Coco Crisp is dealing with a case of pinkeye again

    Feb 28, 2015, 5:28 PM EST

    Coco Crisp AP AP

    Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp missed more than a week down the stretch in 2012 due to pinkeye and now he’s dealing with it again.

  11. Craig Kimbrel made up some clever t-shirts for the new-look Braves

    Feb 28, 2015, 4:19 PM EST

    B-8j_DWXEAAL9Yh

    After trading the likes of Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis as well as adding a handful of veteran free agents, the Braves have a ton of new faces in camp this spring.

  12. Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the hip by a pitch during an intrasquad game today. Yes, he’s fine.

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:15 PM EST

    Giancarlo Stanton AP AP

    Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton had his season come to an end in horrific fashion last September when he suffered facial fractures and dental damage on a hit-by-pitch.

  13. Tweet of the Day: Juan Pierre has one regret as he heads into retirement

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:18 PM EST

    Juan Pierre Getty Getty Images

    Juan Pierre showed his sense of humor on Twitter after announcing his retirement from baseball.

  14. Chris Sale will be sidelined for three weeks with foot fracture

    Feb 28, 2015, 1:03 PM EST

    Chris Sale AP

    Sale suffered the injury unloading something off the back of his truck on Friday.

  15. Alex Rodriguez takes reps at first base for first time in career

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:10 PM EST

    Alex Rodriguez AP AP

    Chase Headley is expected to be the team’s regular third baseman this season, so Yankees manager Joe Girardi wants if Rodriguez can be a potential backup to Mark Teixeira.

  16. Nationals sign Rich Hill

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:02 AM EST

    Rich Hill AP AP

    Hill, who turns 35 next month, bounced around three different organizations last year and mostly pitched in the minors.

  17. Cliff Lee scheduled to make spring debut next Thursday

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:57 AM EST

    Cliff Lee AP AP

    It will be his first game action since last July 31.

  18. Rangers shut down Edgar Olmos due to shoulder impingement

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:04 PM EST

    Edgar Olmos Edgar Olmos

    The Rangers will shut down Edgar Olmos days after picking him up on a waiver claim from the Mariners.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Santana (2687)
  2. Z. Greinke (2637)
  3. A. Wainwright (2616)
  4. M. Upton (2476)
  5. M. Saunders (2403)