Derek Jeter’s farewell tour has been a victory lap for the Hall of Fame shortstop. In cities throughout baseball, fans have cast aside their loyalties to shower appreciation on the Yankees’ Captain, who spent most of the last 20 years helping the Bronx Bombers repeatedly beat their favorite teams.
Derek Jeter’s 20-year reign of “selfishness” is coming to an end.
Although the fan response has been resounding, Jeter’s final go-round hasn’t been without bumps. The 40-year old has suffered through the worst season of his career, and that has provided an opportunity for the short stop’s embittered critics to take one last shot at the legend as he makes his way out the door. While the vast majority of baseball fans have been eager to slap him on the back, this smaller group of Jeterphobes has opted for a push, with a little dirt kicked in his direction for good measure.
The typical contrarian Jeter article usually acknowledges, albeit begrudgingly, the short stop’s historic career, but it is careful to couch that praise in standard criticism of his defense. Conferring infallibility to defensive metrics that are inherently flawed, the critics proclaim that Jeter is the worst defensive short stop of all time, as if being extra emphatic will change the minds of those who have watched him play for 20 years. Putting aside the reliability of these metrics, and the validity of the resultant exaggerated claims, these articles never seem to mention that, despite being heavily penalized for his defense, Jeter still has one of the highest WAR ratings among short stops. If the truth about Jeter’s defense is somewhere in the middle, who knows how high he’d rank? Maybe, he’s actually underrated?
The debate over Jeter’s defense has become so clichéd, the discourse is more about the person taking a position than the merits of their argument (present company included). And, perhaps because this pointed criticism of Jeter has begun to fall on deaf ears, his detractors have latched onto something new. Now, not only has Jeter been an abominable defender all these years, the critics proclaim, but his farewell tour has proven him to be selfish.
Although others have made similar veiled suggestions, Howard Megdal doesn’t mince words. In his latest article at SBNation, Megdal calls into question “the basic truth…that Derek Jeter is a selfless leader who will do whatever it takes to win”. The crux of Megdal’s argument is Jeter should have voluntarily and publically demoted himself in the lineup and/or limited his playing time. His failure to do this, the author states, is evidence of Jeter’s selfishness. Continue Reading »