Derek Jeter Announces Impending Retirement

Derek Jeter announced today that the 2014 season will be his last, bringing an end to a career that will have spanned 20 years. And while Jeter may be most famous in the statistical community as the poster boy for modern defensive metrics, the reality is that even with his lack of range at shortstop, he’s still easily one of the greatest players of all time.

The basic numbers: Among players who have played at least 25% of their games at shortstop — the qualification needed to show up at the position on our leaderboards — Jeter ranks 6th in WAR. Of the five guys ahead of him, three played (at least in part) in the 19th century. One of the others spent nearly as much time at third base as he did at shortstop. Essentially, over the last 100 years, Cal Ripken is the only full time SS we’ve seen that has posted a higher career WAR than Jeter.

So maybe the mainstream media has overrated Jeter over the last 20 years, but if they have, they’ve slightly exaggerated the greatness of one of the greatest players of all time. This isn’t a Ryan Howard or Jack Morris situation, where the narrative has turned an okay player into a superstar based on myth and legend. Jeter is a legitimate legend on his own merits, with no embellishments needed.

We don’t need to do any kind of career retrospective now, since his career is not yet over, but as a member of the community who has often pointed out Jeter’s defensive deficiencies, I will happily point out that even those flaws don’t keep him from being one of the premier players of his generation. Congratulations on a terrific career, sir.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted
Nick
Guest
Nick

I really hope we get to see him play a lot this season, it just didn’t feel right this year. Even as a non-Yankee fan, I loved to see him play and the game will feel different without him.

Westside guy
Member
Member
Westside guy

Honestly not meaning to be snarky – if he hits .190, do you really want to see him continue to play a lot?

Sean C
Member

As a Red Sox fan, yes, I want to see him play a lot.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Yeah, the guy can’t play defense and he can’t hit anymore. If I were a Sox fan, I’d want him to stay healthy and play every game

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko

@Steve:

Why can’t he hit?

Apart from 73 plate appearances in 2013 (in which he had a .208 BABIP), Jeter had a 117 wRC+ in 2012, and a 104 wRC+ in 2011.

He can probably still hit, he just can’t play shortstop or run the bases well. Probably.

Tom B
Guest
Tom B

He led the league in PA’s and hits in 2012.

ankle explosion hr celebration
Guest
ankle explosion hr celebration

It would be a gritty & heroic .190, though, replete with spin moves, rugged multi-ethnic handsomeness, clutch hits, and tons of NY Post stories about the coterie of supermodels/actresses he would presumably be dating.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth

Derek Jeter isn’t gritty. He’s half black.

ankle explosion hr celebration
Guest
ankle explosion hr celebration

it’s the white half that’s gritty.

RC
Guest
RC

The white half is also deceptively as-fast-as the black half.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth

Well, he is balding!

JS7
Guest
JS7

Regardless of what team you root for, it’s going to be a sad day when #2 hangs them up…

Stephen Drew
Guest
Stephen Drew

I was hoping he’d take some time off this season