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Pasta Diving!


Derek Jeter, after one atypically mediocre defensive season, this year was back to being the 32nd best defensive shortstop in the majors according to the +/- rankings, with similar evaluations in other metrics.    So, of course:

I have to get this out of the way … Yes, Derek Jeter has just won another Gold Glove.

It’s his fifth, which means he’s now won at least four more Gold Gloves than he’s deserved. By any stretch of the fever-crazed imagination.

It’s not exactly news that the Gold Glove voters are incredibly lazy, but Christ. As Neyer says, what’s especially strange about this is that while there used to be a major discrepancy between his reputation in the media and his performance, I get the impression that even among his fawning lickspittles in New York nobody thinks he’s much of a shortstop at this late date. At least they didn’t give one to Posada…

…the full list, verbatim from the best.  website.  ever.:

2010 Gold Gloves

Pos American League
P Mark Buehrle (CHW-2nd)
C Joe Mauer (MIN-3rd)
1B Mark Teixeira (NYY-4th)
2B Robinson Cano (NYY-1st)
3B Evan Longoria (TBR-2nd)
SS Derek Jeter (NYY-5th) We can’t believe it either
OF Ichiro Suzuki (SEA-9th)
OF Fr. Gutierrez (SEA-1st)
OF Carl Crawford (TBR-1st)
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  • howard

    so we get to make our ritual remarks here that: a.) it ain’t jeter who votes for the gold glove; b.) as i noted at the time, it always seemed more reasonable that the supposed range improvement for jeter was simply positioning and random factor; c.) and because he is neither a 20-hr man nor a good fielder (regardless of exactly how bad he is), i personally still don’t think he’s a hall of famer….

    • c u n d gulag

      As I’m sure you’re aware, prior to the ’90’s, the number of 20+ homer shortstops was NOT a large one. And he’s certainly not a huge power threat, but he does hit a few every
      Jeter now has the record for most hits as a shortstop in history, and is on his way to 3,000 – probably before the All Star game next year.
      I’m a Yankees fan, as I’m sure you know, so I’ve had the privledge of watching him for the last 15 sasons.
      He is by far the best SS I’ve ever seen going back on a pop-up.
      The man runs out EVERY grounder.
      He goes all-out even on defense. If you remember, back in 2004, in a game right before the All Star Game, in Fenway, Jeter dove HEAD FIRST into the stands along 3rd base in a regular season game that, while important, wasn’t worth a potential career-ending injury, but he dove anyway.
      Is he the greatest defensive SS of all time? Hell no! He’s not even close to that in his own era.
      But, he’s an excellent all around player, with guts, some pop, steals some bases, walks, and makes the plays a SS’s supposed to make.
      And he’s a clutch player. If you ask Yankee fans who they wanted up when the game was on the line (ok, maybe not this year), or who you wanted it hit to to get the sure out, the answer’d be Jeter.
      I’m sure if you think about it, you’d realize that he’s a first ballot HOFer.

      • c u n d gulag

        Oh yeah, and giving him this years GG is a joke!

        • Scott Lemieux

          To not put Jeter in the Hall of Fame would be a radical change to the existing standards. Based on the current standards — even just looking at the BBWA, and ignoring the Veteran Committee’s more arbitrary process — Jeter is overwhelmingly qualified.

          • howard

            let me straight respond to scott: i agree completely.

            i happen to think it should be considerably harder to get into the hall of fame than it is and that there are too many players already.

            which takes me to my answer to cundgulag: 20-hrs is my shorthand for a broader point. jeter is a very good hitter for a shortstop, but considering he is at best an adequate shortstop in terms of range, i don’t think “very good hitter for a shortstop” is sufficient. a couple of years ago, i took a simple look at how many jeter outs would have had to be jeter home runs to push his ops up i think it was 15-20 points, and it amounted to something like 4 homers a year (obviously there are many other ways to increase ops, i just did a simple calculation), which i then translate into an “if jeter had consistently hit 20-21 homers rather than in the mid-teens, his OPS would be high enough that it would overcome his fielding.”

            but cundgulag, you need to understand this also in the broader context of the culture of LGM, where jeter abuse has always been regarded as an important aspect of a well-rounded personality. i’m pointing to the irony that while i have no truck with the extremes of jeter abuse (as i note, he doesn’t vote for gold glove), i also don’t think he’s a hall of famer.

            which just to go full circle on the comment back to the radical standard shift: as i say, i plead guilty as charged. i think it’s great to be one of the very small number of A- ballplayers in baseball history: that’s one helluva accomplishment, seriously, and that’s what i think jeter has been.

            but i prefer to reserve the hall of fame for a and a+ players….

            • elm

              i happen to think it should be considerably harder to get into the hall of fame than it is and that there are too many players already.

              In my head, Grandpa Simpson was reading this line and telling me he wasn’t a crank…

              • howard

                elm, i meant to say that there comes a time in every aging baby boomer’s life when he’s bound to sound like grandpa simpson, and i’m happy that my moment is in favor of high standards for the hall of fame!

            • c u n d gulag

              I agree completely that it should be more difficult to make the HOF. I’m sure you’ve read Bill James’ “The Politics of Glory,” where he makes some great points about how the HOF became the mess it is today.
              I love this site, and I appreciate reading knowledgeable people opinions about baseball, like yours howard. Let me ask, who, in this era was a better SS than Jeter, more deserving of the HOF? A-Rod for sure, maybe Nomar for a few years, but both of those guys have a bit of the late ’90’s steroid taint to them.
              There have been much, much better defensive SS’s than Jeter, but who comes close to his offense – lack of real power and all? Who would be your pick for SS from say Ripkin on? Anyone?

              • Anonymous

                who, in this era was a better SS than Jeter, more deserving of the HOF?

                Is there a rule that you have to elect at least one shortstop from every “era”?

              • howard

                anonymous pretty much gets at the answer i was going to provide: if the hall of fame is supposed to consist of the top players from ever position from every era of the game, ok, then that’s what it is.

                but if the hall of fame is really supposed to be the elite players, then there will be periods when no one at a given position is good enough for the hall of fame and that’s life.

                obviously, my position will never be adopted across baseball and jeter will go into the hall of fame, and as scott notes, by the actual standards of the hall, he will deserve to go in.

                and again, just to wrap ourselves in lgm cultural history, i’m not obsessive about fielding (i’m obsessive, as many will agree, on pitching!), but i said to scott several years ago that it’s impossible to imagine winning 4 titles in 5 years with History’s Greatest (Fielding) Monster at shorstop, and scott said no it isn’t, jeter proves it!

                which is why i’m puzzled that scott would want him in the hall!

              • rcobeen

                I hate Jeter with a fiery passion, but he rather obviously belongs in the Hall, including a smaller, more select hall. The Hall of Fame Monitor has him with the 17th most points in history, while the Hall of Fame
                Standards have him with the 22nd highest point total ever. The idea of not including a shortstop with 3000 hits and a .385 career OBP is absurd.

              • howard

                it’s not the hall of hitting fame.

      • hickes01

        “The man runs out EVERY grounder.”

        OMG! Then we’d better give a Nobel prize, an EMMY, and Oscar as well.

        • c u n d gulag

          hickes, respectfully, you watch baseball laaely?
          How many guys run out the ball in todays game? I mean EVERY time? I was at a game, in 2002 or 2003 I think it was. The Yanks were at home, down to the Braves in the bottom of the 9th, down 6-0, 2 out, and Jeter hit a routine 3 hopper to SS. The SS barely threw him out, and looked amazed as he came off the field that Jeter had gone full bore down the line.
          I know it shouldn’t be something that needs to be glorified, but should be routine. But routinely, I see almost all players take routine plays off. I’m not saying Jeter hasn’t. I’m just saying that not only didn’t I see it, but the NY press never mentioned it if he did. And if you know the NY press, you know they’d love to jump on that, even to a guy like Jeter.

          • hickes01

            My point is that running hard to first base has nothing to do with receiving the Gold Glove for FIELDING.

            • c u n d gulag

              Very true. And I don’t think Jeter should have been in the top half of the AL in GG voting. But GG voting has sucked from Day 1. Too many times it went to good offensive players instead of great defensive ones, which mucks up this award something terrible. I’ll never forget Palmeiro winning a GG at first – when he only played something like 21 games at the position the whole year. What a travesty!
              It’s kind of like the MVP Award not going to the most “valuable” player, however you want to devine that, but the best offensive player. But that’a an argument for another day…

              • hickes01

                Best SS of his generation.

  • Marek

    My theory is that the other 13 managers voting on this award are hoping that the Yankees will sign Jeter for six years, and think that another Gold Glove can only help that happen.

    • NonyNony

      I want this to be true so badly…

    • Ah, good. Someone else who realized that this year’s GG for Jeter vote was all about maintaining competitive balance by making the Yankees waste as much money as possible on him.

  • Bart

    Mr Imponderables owes it all to his jump throws and that one flip toss to home.

  • Bill Murray

    It’s not even like he won it with his bat this year

  • McKingford

    I’m pretty sure there’s a baseball corollary that states that a player’s defence is inversely related to his offence. Therefore a shortstop who hits terribly *must* be a terrific defender – why else would he play?

    I also recognize that a Gold Glove is generally rewarded to good hitting players…which explains Jeter’s past GGs. But with the dip in his offence, the thinking must clearly be that Jeter’s defence has improved. In short, the key to a GG is either to be a really good or really bad hitter.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yeah, although for a SS Jeter — while it was a bad year by his standards — is still well above average.

    • elm

      Nichols’ Law of Catcher Defense states exactly this about catchers and it’s been around since the rec.sports.baseball days. I don’t know how often it’s generalized to all positions, though.

  • Ichiro Fan

    That should be a (SEA-10th)

  • Kevin

    When will Mark Ellis ever get some recognition?

  • LosGatosCA

    Looks to me like the voters simply want to be on Jeter’s good side expecting they might get intros to his ex-girlfriends.

    I mean Jeter has too much class to have his ex’s actually trade sex for votes. Now A-Rod might do it. But not Jeter. So I think it’s just a fantasy fueled vote, not outright corruption.

  • R. Porrofatto

    I have neither Jeter love nor hate, nor an opinion on the Gold Glove, but I am on the cusp of old fart and sabermetrically challenged. So could someone briefly explain to me by what alchemy the linked baseball-reference chart shows Jeter dead last in Rtot, whatever that is, while having the best Fielding Percentage of any shortstop appearing in more than 32 games. Thanks.

    • elm

      The short answer is that fielding pct. only measures how good you are on the balls you get to–and last year Jeter was better than he usually is at not bobbling ground balls or throwing wildly to first.

      What it doesn’t measure is how many balls do you get to. This is what all the so-called “advanced defensive metrics” try to do: how many plays did you make in the opportunities you have.

      Jeter has never had a good first step, and so his range on sharply hit balls has always been bad. Now that he’s slowing down, his range is terrible.

      • R. Porrofatto

        Thanks for the reply. One last question if I may: Who measures whether or not there was an opportunity to make a play in order to keep a record of it?

        • elm

          This is why there are so many different defensive metrics and they don’t all agree: how do you measure opportunities?

          Most of the metrics are based on “zone ratings,” where the field is divided into “zones of responsibility” where each fielder is assigned a zone. The measures then look at what percentage of balls hit into your zone did you make a play on. Most also give some sort of bonus points for making plays out of your zone.

          The baseball-reference metric Scott linked to also includes how good you are at turning the double play for infielders and how good you are at stopping baserunners from advancing for outfielders. This element didn’t affect Jeter’s rating, though, as he was about average at turning double plays. He was dead last because so many balls hit to the SS zone wound up as hits.

          • howard

            just to augment elm’s comments, whatever advanced defensive metrics you use tend to rate jeter low, for the basic range-based reason that elm outlines….

  • Davis X. Machina

    I spent a half-hour listening on sports talk radio this morning (Portland, ME) to tirades against the Baseball Scientologists — whom I think is what they call SABR), for the analytical superiority of the gut, why range doesn’t matter, and how if you only made six errors at shortstop you have to win the GG there.

    From two guys who treat quarterback ratings as if they came down from Sinai with Moses…

    I’ll never get those minutes back, but that would also have been the case with the local classical station playing “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for the ninth time this week.

    The difference is, I’ll never recover the lost brain cells…

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