As a Red Sox fan living in the New York market, I have a lot of contempt for New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter. While the national sports media has made it explicitly clear that they adore the Cap’n, the regularity and ferocity of the ballwashing he often receives from the local media can get downright sickening at times, particularly if you make the mistake of watching Yankee games on YES, as I do.
A collection of timely post-season hits several years back along with the good fortune of playing in New York has caused Jeter to be embedded nearly unanimously on people’s lists of the top players in the Major Leagues.
The problem with that is that Jeter doesn’t put up great power numbers, doesn’t play a particularly great shortstop and doesn’t steal a ton of bases. He does tend to hit for average, however, so he at least has that part of the five tools covered (though he’s only batting .276 at this point in the season, well below his .316 career mark).
I think it’s pretty easy to see the potential for some backlash against Jeter from those who (rightfully, in my opinion) feel he’s wrongly being classified as among the game’s elite rather than what he is, which is a very strong offensive player at a position that was until very recently one where teams were willing to punt offensive production in favor of strong defense.
On the surface, then, it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that the Yankee captain was voted the most overrated player in Major League Baseball by his peers in a recent Sports Illustrated poll.
I say “on the surface” because the guy he beat out, Patrick Duffy’s nephew (not him), has flat out sucked for, conservatively, the past five years. He was so bad this year that the San Francisco Giants, who also flat out suck, opted to put him in the baseball equivalent of timeout earlier in the year, removing him from the team’s starting rotation and banishing him to the bullpen after he lost his first six starts. He did not make an appearance as a reliever in that time, but rather was left to sit there and think about what he’d done.
Did I mention he’s the highest paid pitcher in baseball?
This guy placed second.
Other top vote getters include Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew (okay, I can see this one since a lot of scouts like to compare him to guys like Mickey Mantle — having watched him take batting practice earlier in the week, I have a better understanding of why that seemingly ridiculous comparison was made — but it’s not like he’s really considered a superstar player by the masses), Mets third baseman David Wright, Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis (huh?) and most mystifying of all, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the reigning American League MVP, consensus top player in baseball and a guy who will likely set the all-time home run record.
After the jump, I rush to Derek Jeter’s aid (that’s right) by throwing Jose Reyes and a few other less deserving players under the bus.