Yesterday I discussed the subjectivity of defensive metrics, and suggested that scouting reports and statistics need to be used in conjunction to make judgments about defense. One player that both sources of information agree upon is Derek Jeter, as both see him as one of the worst shortstops in baseball. If anyone at all had doubts as to Jeter’s poor range, Tuesday night’s WBC game should have quelled them. I’ll let Ken Rosenthal explain:
Before Tuesday night, Jeter had played only 15 innings at shortstop over the previous 10 days, a far lower total than he would have compiled if he had remained with the Yankees at spring training.
So, Johnson played Jeter for nine innings at short in the elimination game against Puerto Rico and used Rollins as his designated hitter.
Twice, Jeter failed to stop balls to his left that Rollins might have at least knocked down, and both led directly to runs.
If Team USA had not secured its dramatic 6-5 victory over Puerto Rico by staging a three-run rally in the ninth inning, Jeter’s defense would have come under heavy scrutiny.
Jeter, who turns 35 on June 26, is 4 1/2 years older than Rollins. His defensive decline is not exactly a secret within the industry; the sabermetric community, in particular, has pointed out his inadequacies.
Jeter looked awful in that game, and trust me when I say that any other shortstop in baseball would have stopped those balls. There are those that suggested Jeter go to manager Davey Johnson and ask to be put at DH, but Jeter is unlikely to do that for a variety of reasons. As Ken mentions, Jeter needs to get ready for the upcoming season, and not getting any time in the field would not serve those ends. More importantly, Jeter is unlikely to concede that he has problems defensively, being that he wants the Yankees to view him as a shortstop when his contract expires after the 2010 season. Team USA will be forced to deal with Jeter’s porous defense, something that Yankees fans have become accustomed to. Jeter did not move positions for A-Rod, and he will likely be unwilling to move of short for the Yankees in 2010. There is no way he going to sit himself down for the WBC.
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