I view Derek Jeter in a paradoxical way.
Shortstop is one of the weaker positions in the history of the game. It's Wagner, Ripken, Smith and Jeter. Order them as you please.
In the vastness of MLB legends where would Jeter rank? I guess it's based on what parameters we're using to rank them. And surely time will broaden the greatness of Jeter.
The paradox for me is this. At the moment, even as he'll inch towards the top 5 of most hits all time, Jeter doesn't jump at me - as he would his pattened throw from deep short - as one of the game's great. He probably will one day, but not now.
It may not even matter. The other side of the paradox is that he's one of the most celebrated and legendary Yankees in history. To me, that's a far more illustrious honor than being mentioned in the same breath as whomever you'd exalt as MLB's finest.
Aaron, Mays, Ruth. Jeter? No.
Ruth. Mantle. DiMaggio. Jeter! Now THAT looks and feels appropriate. And it should be no less monumental (Lol.)
Jeter should end his career with more than 3400 hits. Aside from that, ordinary statistics used to demonstrate greatness escape Jeter.
Think about it. He hit more than .334 just twice. Ranked in the top 5 of AL MVP voting just 3 times. Homered more than 20 times just a trio of campaigns. Only had over 40 doubles once.
I'm not impugning Jeter. Outside of being one of the finest to ever don Pinstripes, Jeter could eventually be remembered as being one of MLB's steadiest contributors in history.
If you do need to connect to one stat of Jeter's, besides his final hit total, how about that fact that with a healthy, productive last year, Jeter will have crossed home plate nearly 2000 times. Only 7 in history have done that. Runs are truly overlooked in history's eyes of MLB. I know, it's boring just stepping on or sliding over a plate. Nothing like smashing 500 balls over the outfield walls.
There could be an argument similar to the fuming debate about the definitiveness of the RBI stat, to scoring all those runs. Well stop. Yes, he was in potent PED-era Yankee lineups, but, duh, to score you've got to be on base. Jeter was on base in his career 38% of the time he stepped to the plate.
But alright, stats don't define Jeter.
His five rings are certainly authoritative. And in collecting those five rings he created fabled moments that will rightly be romanticized until the game of baseball isn't played any longer.
Not in the playoffs, but you can't escape this when you think of Jeter.
Jeter didn't smash October like Reggie did, but perhaps more like me will look at his cumulative postseason statistics and their astoundment will be present.
Over 158 playoff games: Hit .308. OPS of .838, which is 8 points higher than in the regular season. Toss in 20 homers, 61 RBIs, 18 of 23 on SBs, and an idyllic 200 total hits.
There's a Mr. October, but Mr. Postseason, and one of the greatest players on the planet's most historically revered sports franchise is quite an distinction.
Thanks for playing Mr. Jeter.