Home / Yes, Virginia, Derek Jeter Does Have a Non-Laughable MVP Case

Yes, Virginia, Derek Jeter Does Have a Non-Laughable MVP Case


The wife, a Bronx native, demands to know whether Derek Jeter deserves this year’s AL MVP award. Jeter’s VORP of 56.8 is second only to that of Joe Mauer, but it’s distant second; there’s as much distance between Jeter and Mauer as there is between Jeter and Kendry Morales. BP indicates that Jeter has been almost exactly average as a shortstop, while Mauer has been a slight plus as catcher. There’s no question that average is a staggering achievement for Jeter, but it’s still not close; Mauer is having a much better year. In terms of second order considerations (the bizarre metrics that MVP voters sometimes use to support their preferred candidate), Jeter wins the all-important “Valuable Because He Plays for the Best Team,” but Mauer conquers in the equally important “His Team Would be Hopeless Without Him.”

If we included salary as an MVP metric (and there are good arguments on either side), I think that Jason Frakking Bartlett would be our MVP:

Bartlett: $1.9 million
Mauer: $10.5 million
Jeter: $21.6 million

But then again, Allen Barra points out that Jeter possesses Jeter-itude in greater abundance than any other candidate:

No one would argue that Mr. Jeter’s statistics are better than those of Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer, the current favorite in the MVP sweepstakes, who is leading the American League in batting (around .370), on-base percentage and slugging average. For that matter, there are several players, particularly Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, who are outhitting Mr. Jeter in batting 颅average and have better power numbers.

The case for Mr. Jeter as American League MVP is being made by more subjective arguments. “How do you measure the value of inspiration and professionalism?” asks Marty Appel, author of “Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain.” “Some people will 颅argue that intangibles don’t 颅exist, but in the ninth inning of close games everybody believes in them.”

Funny Barra mentions that; Mauer’s “Late Inning Pressure, Runners on” OPS is .950, while Jeter’s is… .522. You probably shouldn’t use that as an MVP metric, but if you want to, well, just go ahead.

The best case for Jeter is the “Lifetime Achievement” MVP; he’s been an outstanding player on an outstanding team for fifteen years, and this is likely his last, best shot. It would be robbery to give Jeter the MVP over Mauer, but given the general mushiness of MVP metrics, it would in some senses be defensible robbery.

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