Check out this amazing column from today's Baseball Prospectus. Joe Sheehan is a fantastic writer even if he is a Yankees fan. He has incredible insights and an entertaining writing style. Make sure to read the whole article.
But, if you only have a few moments and still want to know how overrated Derek Jeter is, check this out:
The Yankees deserved to lose, and the Red Sox deserved to win.
What's most interesting about the last two nights is how the events don't fit the storyline. Were it the Red Sox--or the A's or Twins--who had blown two late leads and lost games in extra innings to the Yankees, it would be easy for the media: use the words "clutch," "experience" and "veteran leadership" as many times as possible. After all, it's the Yankees who have the reputation of being the team that wins these types of games, getting there on heart and desire and all the other October clichés.
The fact is, the Yankees have played their worst in the most critical parts of the past two games. After taking a lead in the sixth innings both nights, they haven't scored a run in any of the frames that followed. Last night, they didn't even hit a ball hard after the sixth, save perhaps the Miguel Cairo double in the eighth. Their relievers, not good outside of Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon anyway, have been shaky, and the defense has been exposed as rangeless. There's been little talk of the Yankees' poor performance, though, and less of the 18 runners they left on base last night.
As it usually does, this is manifested most clearly in the case of Derek Jeter. Jeter has had a terrible series, batting .182/.357/.227 and making a couple of errors in the field. When he booted a ground ball last night, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver nearly hurt themselves in the rush to point out the bad hop that caused the miscue. In every plate appearance, Buck referenced waiting for Jeter "to put his stamp on the series," as if his batting in the .100s wasn't having any impact.
Jeter failed to do anything leading off the first and third innings, and had a poor at-bat with first and second and two outs in the fifth. (Note: the game log doesn't even list this AB; perhaps the whole world is in cahoots to make Jeter look good.) In the sixth inning, the self-fulfilling prophecy came through, as Jeter poked a ball into right field that scored all three runners on the bases, giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead. The previous failures didn't matter, as Captain Clutch had done something.
After that, however, Jeter had many more opportunities to help the Yankees, and didn't. His sacrifice bunt in the eighth with Cairo on second base and no one out was a terrible play, whether called by him or by Joe Torre. Why it’s a good play for the contact hitter who goes to right field a lot to sacrifice there is beyond me; letting Jeter swing is likely to produce the same result with a much better chance of something even better happening.
Jeter then led off the 10th with a strikeout and flied to center in the 12th with the potential winning run on second base, before making the last out of the 14th. His approach in these at-bats, especially the latter two, was terrible.
That Jeter had bad at-bats in important moments doesn't make him a bad person or player. The point is that he's the same player in big situations that he is at other times. He doesn't have the ability to "will" his way into hits; no player in baseball does, because the game isn't designed that way. Were the myth of Jeter a reality, he would have been on base in the 10th, he would have gotten a hit to drive home Miguel Cairo in the 12th. It's not, though; Jeter is a very good baseball player who doesn't possess special October skills, because those skills don't exist.
The way in which Jeter is treated is symptomatic of the entire situation. Put any other team into the story, and the "choking" references would be running hot and heavy.
Maybe not having to make tags to get outs is an actual skill that Jeter possesses, and therefore something we need to add into our defensive metrics.
Jeter dreams of even more accolades if he can just raise his batting average over .200.
10 hours ago