Yankee captain Derek Jeter apparently announced his retirement on his facebook page to the surprise of all. I'm surprised because I don't find much use for facebook or twitter.
Jeter's farewell address is in an incredibly small font so you'll need to really increase your screen size to read it. It's among his photos and has his signature. Hey, you can see his autograph ... for free. I read down to paragraph four where Jeter finally states that 2014 will be his last season. I stopped reading there, although it goes on quite a bit.
Maybe Jeter wants to avoid the awkwardness of dealing with his teammate for the last decade when Alex Rodriguez returns in 2015. In the movie 42 there's a scene where Pee Wee Reese puts his arm around Jackie Robinson to show support. Aside from whether that is based in fact, I've been wondering who would do that for A-Rod when he returns? Or who would even play catch with him? I did not think that Jeter was the person to do either. Now we'll never know unless Bud Selig commutes A-Rod's sentence after the All Star break, something that I've been thinking about advocating but that's for another post.
I learned of this news about Jeter's upcoming retirement on the MLB Network, where they are trying to determine if Jeter is in the top ten human beings of all time. Certainly CEO Allen Huber "Bud" Selig is singing Jeter's praises, perhaps to cast the hated A-Rod into an even deeper place in baseball purgatory.
Top ten players? Top ten shortstops? Blah, blah, blah.
Jeter's rank is largely due to his longevity. When he has played the field it has only been at shortstop. Had he been switched to another position in his later years Jeter might not even be playing any more. He doesn't hit for enough power to play third base or left field.
And what if Yankee manager Joe Torre, recently elected to the Hall of Fame, largely because of Jeter's play in Torre's first six seasons managing the Yankees, had switched Jeter to third for the 2004 season and put A-Rod at short in his first Yankee season? How would that have changed Jeter's rank among all time players?
That could easily have happened. One reason that it did not was that A-Rod was willing to make the switch and Jeter might not have been. Torre took the path of least resistance. At the time A-Rod had won his first of three MVP awards and was generally regarded as a better fielding shortstop than Jeter. This is one of my more popular posts:
|Jeter and Rodriguez|
By User Onetwo1 via Wikimedia Commons
Derek Jeter Height: 6' 3", Weight: 195 lb. Born: June 26, 1974
Alex Rodríguez Height: 6' 3", Weight: 230 lb. Born: July 27, 1975 ...
To date 46% of the plate appearances by Rodríguez have been as a Yankee. Two of his three AL MVP awards have been as a Yankee. Jeter has none...
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodríguez started at about the same time and have similar numbers of plate appearances ...
OK, it's pretty obvious that Alex Rodríguez is a much better player than Derek Jeter.
Imagine if Rodríguez had pulled that stunt that Jeter pulled last season, faking that he had been hit by a pitch and having the game delayed while the Yankee manager and trainer attended to his non-injury. Rodríguez would have been killed by media and fans, even Yankee fans.
Maybe it's time for an update of their all time ranks. Number of times leading the American League in (). Note that Rodriguez has a career triple crown: leading in BA, RBI, HR but not all in the same year, more rare than you might think.
15. Jeter 10,614 (1)
32. Rodriguez 9,818 (1)
10. Jeter 3,316 (2)
32. Rodriguez 2,939 (1)
10. Rodriguez 1,919 (5)
13. Jeter 1,876 (1)
6. Rodriguez 1,969 (2)
127. Jeter 1,261
5. Rodriguez 654 (5)
190. Jeter 256
84. Jeter .312
214. Rodriguez .299 (1)
143. Rodriguez .384
161. Jeter .381
19. Rodriguez .558 (4)
430. Jeter .447
28. Rodriguez .942 (2)
263. Jeter .828
56. Rodriguez 143 (2)
438. Jeter 117
Most of the blathering on MLB Network is about totals, like times on base. I thought comparing Jeter to Rodriguez again might provide some perspective.
On the all time Yankee list I'd rank Jeter 6 or 7 among non-pitchers. Here they are in order by OPS+:
1. Babe Ruth 206
4. Lou Gehrig 179, MVP, triple crown
6. Mickey Mantle 172, 3 MVP, triple crown
22. Joe DiMaggio 155, 3 MVP
201. Bill Dickey 127
236. Yogi Berra 125, 3 MVP
438. Derek Jeter 117
The big four come first, then Berra, then Dickey or Jeter. That's my ranking without a system as a Yankee fan. I think that's high praise for Jeter.
I love Jeter but I hope he will forego a dreadful repeat of the Mariano Rivera farewell tour. I'm really hoping that the Steinbrenner Kids do not repeat their numerology circus and retire Jeter's number 2 along with that of Leo Durocher who wore that number managing both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants and who is portrayed in the movie 42.
At least now the Yankees can plan for Jeter's successor without tripping over his legacy. The Yanks can also schedule yet another tribute day which may be needed to draw fans in case the Yanks are drifting out of contention late in the 2014 season. If only A-Rod could ride to the rescue.