Derek Jeter and Range


Often when talking about Derek Jeter we’re discussing his performance at the plate. Whether he’ll eventually catch Pete Rose for the most hits All-Time or just how super duper clutch he is. Many of my Derek Jeter posts come off as if I’m bashing him. In no way do I mean to do that. It’s just at times Derek Jeter’s persona needs to be toned down. Some Yankee fan has to do it, right? For me perhaps the most annoying thing a Yankee fan does it talk about how well Derek Jeter plays defense. I’ve had this discussion with my friend countless of times. “Yo, c’mon! Derek Jeter man. IT’S DEREK JETAH. The greatest shortstop to ever play the game and he’s not a great defensive shortstop? He’s a five time Gold Glove Award winner! You’re crazy man.” I’ve had this discussion many times and those statements are always thrown out there. It’s time to reveal the truth about Derek Jeter and his defense.

So close, yet so far. (Image: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)

For one, him being Derek Jeter is not the greatest argument.

Me : “Why is he the greatest?”

Friend : “He’s Derek Jeter. That’s why!”

This is just one of the annoying things about Derek Jeter. To be fair it’s not even Jeter’s fault. His fans just go over the top. Another thing that gets me is the use of the Gold Glove Award. I thought the Gold Glove Award argument was tossed away years ago. The people who are voting for these end of the year awards never seem to get them right. If they do it shocks us all for five minutes and then we go onto complain about which ones they were wrong about. I find it to be the worst award to give a player. Making a web gem doesn’t mean someone is a great defensive player. It means they made a great play.

I’ll admit the jump throw is an amazing play. However, how many times does Jeter actually complete that in season? It doesn’t seem often anymore. Actually it seems that when he does the jump throw the runner is safe by a mile. At least in today’s age. I actually feel that Jeter would have a better shot of planting and then fire across his body to thrown the runner out. I mean they both could have similar results, but the latter could make the play closer. Making that play three times a year doesn’t justify a Gold Glove.

The final thing that makes absolutely no sense is that Derek Jeter wins Gold Gloves because he’s the best hitting shortstop. Yea go figure. I mean that’s just ridiculous, right?

Before I go further I want to express my feelings on UZR. UZR is probably the worst SABR stat. It takes three years worth of data to be somewhat reliable. So basically I never look at it. However, I like the eye test for defense. The routes players take to the ball and how much ground they can cover. So if I don’t watch their games, I really can’t judge their defense.

I do watch Jeter’s games though. Jeter isn’t a bad defender. He’ll make every play that’s in front of him. Yet, there are guys who will make plays on balls hit that Jeter can’t reach. He lacks range. For those who think I’m saying Jeter is bad at defense again, no, I’m not saying that at all.

What’s the definition of range?

Range – verb: Vary or extend between specified limits

Well these limits in this case are the amount of space and area that Jeter covers. He can’t get to balls like Elvis Andrus. I’m not even sure he can get to balls that Eduardo Nunez can. It’s just that simple. Jeter lacks range, but fields every ball that comes within a few feet of him. Any further and it’s a difficult play.

Conclusion? Derek Jeter isn’t a bad fielder, but he’s not an elite fielder.