Commentary

Jeter is underrated and overrated

Yet there is no disputing that he is an all-time great

Updated: June 17, 2011, 9:04 AM ET
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine
Derek JeterWilliam Perlman/US PresswireLoved and hated by many, Derek Jeter is still one of the best shortstops of all time.

A version of this story appears in the June 27, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

As Derek Jeter approaches 3,000 career hits, he occupies a unique position in sports: He's overrated by fans yet underrated by statistical analysts. And with him now on the DL just a few hits shy of his big milestone, we can take a step back and properly evaluate his career.

Let's start with some kvetching. Anyone who is not a Yankee fan can grow annoyed with Jeter's relentless parade of endorsements, the quantity and quality of the supermodels he's dated or his princely status in New York, where radio voice John Sterling calls him El Capitan. But there are two claims about Jeter's on-field play that really grind sabermetricians' gears.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.