Derek Jeter, Still Baseball's Most Underrated Overrated Player

Jeter is one of the most intriguing of baseball players because for most of his career he has simultaneously been overrated, he is clearly not the greatest player or even the greatest Yankee in history, and underrated. He is not strong on defense, but has not been as bad as many think. Moreover, Jeter's extremely cautious style with the media has led most of the media to cover him as some sort of baseball saint, always ready with a good team oriented quote, respectful of the game and its history and almost never willing to criticize a teammate, or opponent. A minority of fans, however, see this is as a highly choreographed image by Jeter, which of course it is, and decry him for not being genuine.

A Step in the Right Direction for the Hall of Fame

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas's election to the Hall of Fame represents one of the best years for Hall of Fame selection in a long time. Although there were numerous other deserving candidates including those tainted by steroids, like Barry Bonds and those with no steroid association, like Craig Biggio and Mike Mussina, it is still a good sign that three players, the most since 2003, were elected by the BBWAA. Biggio missed by an agonizing 0.2% and is in strong position to get elected next year.

The Hall of Fame Expansion Era Ballot

The bigger problem facing the Hall of Fame is that due to the backlog on the ballot, as well as the increased numbers of team, players and thus, eligible candidates, the players from the 1990s and later will be severely underrepresented over time. Finding a way for one of these players to get in will only make the lack of players from the 1990s and later more striking. If Parker gets into the Hall of Fame only a few years after getting rejected by the voters, the cases for more recent corner outfielders like Lance Berkman, Larry Walker, Gary Sheffield, Vladimir Guerrero and others who were better hitters, but with shorter careers like Bobby Abreu and Brian Giles will be much stronger. Similarly, the logic of letting Garvey in, while, as is likely to happen, keeping John Olerud, Jason Giambi and Fred McGriff out, is tough to follow. Garvey or Dave Parker would not be the worst Hall of Fame selections, but perhaps the most puzzling.

Steroids Aren't the Only Problem Facing the Hall of Fame

The combinations of expansion, prioritizing power and patience and, yes steroids, creates problems for how sluggers are compared across eras and, of course, for the Hall of Fame as well, but this problems is exacerbated by a voting system that is unwieldy and flawed. This year no players were elected to the Hall of Fame. The merits of that decision can be debated, but the impact it will have on future elections will be clear. In short, by 2014, there will be so many deserving players on the ballot that it is likely that a player with numbers that were good enough for the Hall of Fame a generation ago, and perhaps no demonstrated link to steroids, will be dropped from the ballot after one or two appearances after next year. Next year there will be five 8000/140 players on the ballot as well as a number of other standouts like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Tim Raines.

The Unusual Career of Bobby Abreu

Abreu is the kind of player who will be easily forgotten by most fans. His post-season footprint was not large for a player in the wild card era who amassed well over 9,000 regular season plate appearances. He underperformed in black ink and awards voting; and had a personality that rarely drew a great deal of attention. However, he was also a player with both an unusual skill set and career path who managed to put up numbers that would not look out of place in Cooperstown.

Steroids Aren't The Only Reason Gary Sheffield Faces Tough Hall of Fame Odds

Gary Sheffield’s retirement immediately ignited some discussion about his Hall of Fame qualifications. Sheffield’s candidacy is interesting because it raises a number of questions about the Hall of Fame and upon what criteria members should be selected. Sheffield’s numbers were very strong, but his links to steroid use, the era in which he played, the number of teams for which he played and various controversies which followed him for most of his career make him less of an automatic selection.

Apres Jeter and Posada

Posada and Jeter’s offensive production took a great deal of pressure off of the rest of the Yankee offense during theoe years. The late 1990s are already more than a decade ago, so it is often forgotten that those Yankee teams did not always get great production from what are usually thought of as important offensive positions such as first base, DH and the corner outfield positions. The 1998 team was an extraordinary team with no real weaknesses, but their worst hitter was left fielder Chad Curtis who posted an OPS+ of 90. However, in 1999, the players most often used at DH, LF, RF, 1b and 3b, all posted OPS+ of 110 or lower. These are extraordinarily poor numbers for a World Championship team, especially for one which won 98 regular season games and finished third in the league in runs scored. The 2000 team was similar as none of the players who played those five positions most frequently had an OPS+ of even 100. The offense in 2000, which scored 871 runs, good enough for sixth in the league, came from the catcher, shortstop, centerfielder and a handful of part time players. The 2009 team, however, hit from top to bottom and was the most balanced Yankee offense to win a championship since 1998.

Some More Baseball Awards for the End of the Decade

As the decade winds down, baseball fans can read about teams of the decade,top 100 players of the decade, all-star teams of the decade, the greatest moments of the decade and other measurements of the decade which just ended. Here are some other awards for the soon to be complete decade which have been overlooked.

Manny, Papi, Jeter and Mo


The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry has been particularly intense over the last decade because these years, just as in the late 70s and late 40s, both teams have been contenders. The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry is based on more than just regional loyalties; it is also based on a narrative which many fans seem to believe. The narrative can be summed up, and dramatically exaggerated, by saying it is about the Evil Empire-Best Team Money Can Buy Yankees against the Underdog-Long Suffering Red Sox. This narrative is even more nonsensical than most, but it is surprisingly persistent among casual fans.