Tuesday evening marked a moment years in the making. To no one’s surprise, Derek Jeter was immortalized among baseball’s all-time greats with a spot in Cooperstown. The legendary New York Yankees shortstop received votes on 396 of 397 ballots. Many fans are understandably upset that Jeter wasn’t voted in unanimously. As for me, I think the longtime Yankee captain was undoubtedly deserving of a spot in the hall, but honestly, I’m happy it wasn’t unanimous. That probably says more about me than Jeter, but hear me out.
He was never the best player in the MLB
Jeter’s 14 All-Star appearances go to show that he was always among the best players in the game (and played in a massive market), yet he never won an MVP award. Perhaps the best thing about Jeter was that he was able to be great, albeit not the greatest, for a very long time. He did compile over 3400 hits in his 20-year career, after all. Jeter may have been able to outlast other greats of the era, but he never really outshined the rest of the league in any season. Even in contact hitting, his greatest skill as a player, he only led baseball in hits twice in 20 seasons. Leading the league in hits any number of times is impressive, and a strong bullet point for a hall of fame resume. Nevertheless, Jeter would have needed to accomplish this feat at least five or so times for me to consider him worthy of being a unanimous hall of famer.
He was hardly ever even the best player on his own team
Five World Series wins is a tremendous accomplishment. Nothing I, nor anyone for that matter, can say will change that. Jeter played a huge role in each of those championships too, with a career .308 batting average in postseason play and many clutch hits collected in the process. It’s impossible to separate the captain from the accomplishments of his franchise, but I can’t help but wonder how differently his legacy would be viewed if he played for a team that never won a world series. For all Jeter’s greatness, in 20 years with the Yankees, he only led the team’s hitters in WAR four times. With so many stacked teams, this is hardly a knock-on Jeter. However, is four for twenty really unanimous Hall of Fame worthy?
He was a wildly overrated defender
This is one of the most commonly cited criticisms of the shortstop. At the risk of sounding even more like a hater, Jeter didn’t deserve a single one of the five gold gloves he received. The jump throw was iconic and certainly an amazing trademark play, but it seems like it warped a lot of people’s perception of his overall body of work. Jeter was a statistically below league average defender at his position in four of the five seasons in which he won a gold glove. In the other year he was worth a mere three defensive runs saved above league average. In fact that season (2009) was the only year that Jeter finished above league-average defensively since the stat (defensive runs saved above average) started being recorded in 2003. I’m not saying he was a defensive liability or anything, but his work with the glove is criminally overrated and does not warrant a unanimous induction into the hall.
Do you really think he was good enough to be the SECOND EVER unanimous hall of famer?
Last year Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous Hall of Famer. Now Jeter, his teammate of 19 years, came up just one vote shy of becoming the second. Each clearly had dominant years and legendary postseason success. While both Rivera and Jeter were no doubt hall of fame picks, clearly neither are one of the best two players of all time. Jeter ranks 88th all time in career WAR, good for 10th among shortstops.
Jeter’s stats make him well deserving of this honor, just not deserving of unanimous election when his career is stacked up against some of the game’s all-time greatest legends.
Did Derek Jeter deserve to be elected unanimously? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
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