Would Derek Jeter seriously get so overrated if he didn't play in New York?
I highly doubt it. Don't get me wrong, he's had a good career but to call him an all time great is a joke. The guy hasn't even been the best player on his own team throughout the career. A year by year breakdown shows one maybe two years where he was the best player on his own team. I have felt for a long time that there are three primary reasons why Jeter gets so overrated. 1) New York City 2) Rich Garcia making a horrible call in RF 3) Jeremy Giambi not knowing how to slide (he should have still been called safe because the play was a tie at worse).
In casual conversation yesterday I was coming up with a list of position players in the American League alone who I would take ahead ahead of Jeter from the past 15 years. I came up with the following list that included the likes of Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez. Going a bit down to the next level and guys like Jim Thome, Ivan Rodriguez, David Ortiz make real strong cases. I'm sure if I put more thought to I'd come up with a longer list. All this is even before we start to get into pitchers like Roy Halladay and Pedro Martinez. Again, this is before going into a list of guys in the National League.
Please don't give me any b.s about "playing the game the right way". Jeter's not the only guy who goes into stands to make catches or back up throws from the outfield. Don't give me the garbage about him being a loyal guy either. Just because he's played his entire career with the Yankees doesn't make him a loyal guy. If he had this loyalty to the Yankees and New York he wouldn't have held them hostage for every last penny last off season after the Yankees had overpaid him the last time around. Don't give me any crap about him being a leader or making others better. Just where has he shown any of those characteristics? The guy made A-Rod's life miserable when he first arrived in New York. Heck, if Jeter was this big team guy wouldn't the best shortstop on the team (A-Rod) be playing shortstop?
I went year by year from 1996 to 2010 to look at guys on the New York Yankees who outplayed Jeter in that particular year. Here is what I came up with.
1996 - O'Neil, Tino, Bernie, Pettitte, Wetteland and Rivera
1997 - O'Neil, Tino, Bernie, Pettite, Cone and Rivera
1998 - Bernie and Rivera
1999 - Rivera
2000 - See Below
2001 - Mussina, Clemens, Rivera
2002 - Giambi, Soriano, Bernie,
2003 - Rivera, Giambi, Posada, Soriano
2004 - A-Rod, Matsui, Sheffield,Rivera
2005 - A-Rod, Sheffield, Rivera
2006 - See Below
2007 - A-Rod, Posada
2008 - A-Rod, Abreu, Mussina and Rivera
2009 - Sabathia, Rivera and Teixeira
2010 - A-Rod, Teixeira, Cano, Swisher, Sabathia,
In 1997 I left Davild Wells off the list despite him winning 16 games because his ERA was high. Heck, Chad Curtis in 334 less ABs hit for the same average, more HRs, just 20 less RBIs and significantly higher OPS. No, I'm not saying I'd take Chad Curtis over Jeter but just put #s into perspective.
In 1998 I left off Tino off the list despite him driving in 123 runs and O'Neil despite him driving in 116. I'll leave Cone off despite him winning 20 games. I left Wells off despite him going 18-4 with a 3.49 ERA. I left off Orlando Hernandez and his 3.13 ERA because he only started 21 games. I'm being pretty generous with 1998.
In 1999 I say he's a push with Bernie and you could make a strong case that Jeter's .349 with 24 HRs and 102 RBIs deserves top spot but Rivera had 45 saves with a 1.83 ERA and a WHIP of .883 I probably won't complain if someone wants to give Jeter 1999 but Rivera was definitely better.
In 2000 yes Jeter his .339 and you could make a case for him but a case for Bernie can easily be made. He hit 30 HRs with 121 RBIs despite only playing in 141 games.
In 2001 I left Tino off the list despite him getting 34 HRs and driving in 113.
In 2002 I left Pettitte and his 3.27 ERA off because he only pitched in 22 games.
In 2003 I left off I left Mussina and his 17-8 record with a 3.40 ERA off the list.
In 2004 I left Posada off the list despite him having a significantly higher OPS and more RBIs in 200 less ABs just because he hit only .272. I also left off Orlando Hernandez who went 8-2 3.30 ERA because he only started 15 games.
In 2005 I left off Giambi and his 32 HRs because he drove in just 87 and hit for a low average. I even left off Matsui's 116 RBIs because he "only" hit .305 and had only 23 HRs. Matsui still had a better OPS and more extra base hits. Again, I'm being fairly generous here.
In 2006 there is a strong case for Jeter again. He hit .343 and drove in 97. Arguments against Jeter? Cano hit .342 and drove in 78 despite having 140 fewer ABs. A-Rod also hit 35 HRs and drove in 121. Giambi ht 37 HRs and drove in 113. Rivera, Mussina and Wang also had great years. I'd give Jeter a push with Cano but people can make a case for A-Rod being right there too.
In 2007 you could make a case for Cano as well. I'm leaving 100+ RBIs from Matsui and Abreu off the list.
In 2008 I am leaving off a 32 HR season from Giambi.
In 2009 Jeter hit .334 and you can make a case for him but 5 other guys in the starting lineup alone matched his OPS. How can argue against Teixeira hitting 39 HRs and driving in 122? I'll leave A-Rod off the list because he only hit .286 to go along with 30 HRs and 100 RBIs. Every other player in the starting lineup drove in more runs then Jeter despite having fewer Plate Appearances (Cano was only one with more ABs and he had just 3 more ABs). Everyone but Melky Cabrera had more HRs. Everyone but Cabrera had more extra base hits as well. How can you hit .334 in over 600 ABs and only drive in 66?
In 2010 I am leaving off Pettitte's 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA because he only started 21 games. Heck, someone could make a case that Gardner and/or Posada (edit: also editing in Granderson here) had years that were just as good if not better.
Biggest reason I couldn't care less about Jeter is because how ridiculously over the top Yankees fan get with him. Jeter was almost never the best player on the team. He spent few years being at best the 3rd or even 4th best SS in the American League alone (no matter how much Yankees fans want to claim that he was better then Nomar those years). Yesterday Yankees beat writers were posting quotes placing Jeter in the top tier of Yankees historically. Have these people heard of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle? At best he is on the 3rd tier of Yankees.
Being a good player is not a knock on a guy. Yesterday YES Network guys were already taking about him getting to 4,000. Can we settle down please?