Jeter better overall player than Ripken

Making the case for why Yanks' captain is second-best SS, behind only Honus Wagner

Originally Published: January 14, 2010
By David Schoenfield |
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The Setup

"Derek Jeter has the killer instinct of Jackie Robinson, the hustle of Pete Rose, the bat artistry of George Brett, the leadership of Kirby Puckett, the clutch hitting of Reggie Jackson, the acrobatics of Ozzie Smith, the eyes of Grace Kelly. He's the perfect ballplayer."

--David Schoenfield, 2010

[+] EnlargeDerek Jeter
William Perlman/US PresswireDerek Jeter has won five World Series titles with the Yankees.

For a long time, there was heated debate about Derek Jeter's value as a player. On one side sat those who agree with the above statement that I just made up. Their adulation reached an apex most notably after his famous "flip play" against the A's in the 2001 playoffs. The play became a symbol of his baseball genius (you can even purchase a signed 16x20 sepia-toned photo of the play for a mere $649.99).

On the other side sat the statistical analysts who argued that while he was a good hitter, he wasn't a good defensive shortstop (was, in fact, a horrible shortstop). Their disgust reached an apex when Jeter won his first Gold Glove in 2004 (he's won three more since). The award became a symbol of the often-embarrassing fawning over Jeter's abilities.

Back when Jeter made that play, it was used as ammunition in popular debates: Who was better, Jeter or A-Rod? Jeter or Nomar? Jeter or Tejada? Eventually, those debates were settled: Alex Rodriguez moved to third base, Nomar Garciaparra moved to the disabled list and Miguel Tejada moved to Baltimore.

Jeter, meanwhile, kept churning out .300 seasons. And now? He may be the second-greatest shortstop of all time.

David Schoenfield | email

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