Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter: similar stars in two very different markets

I love Derek Jeter as much as the next guy. In fact, from my earliest recollection, Derek Jeter has been the only shortstop I have known. The man is the New York Yankees.

Jeter continues to get older; inevitably, there will be a day when another will be announced as "playing shortstop for the New York Yankees".

Imagine for one second that Jeter was never played for the Yankees. Let's say, for argument's sake, he was traded for Chipper Jones before either reached the majors. It's tough to do.

Derek Jeter may the most recognizable figure in all of sport. Chipper Jones may be the best baseball player in the last 15 years that is appreciated the least. Why? Atlanta has "The Weather Channel", New York has "Yankee Stadium". New York has the glitz and the glamor. Atlanta has southern manners.

Back to my trade - would Derek Jeter be viewed any differently had he played in a small market? In my mind, yes. Would Chipper be viewed any differently had he played in New York? Yes, again.

These two players are remarkably similar. Jeter debuted 1995 and started playing full time in 1996. Chipper debuted in 1993 but did not start playing full time until 1995.

Chipper has a career batting average of .304. Jeter, .313. Chipper hits for more power - 454 home runs to Jeter's 240. Chipper has an all time career OBP of .402. Jeter, .383.

Defensively, Chipper is much better than Jeter; vver their careers, Jeter has a -14 WAR and Chipper only has a -2.

Am I arguing that Chipper is better than Jeter? No. Nobody will ever know how each would have reacted had they been moved to different markets. Yet, when fans say that no one player has been better than Jeter since the mid-1990's, I find myself arguing that for some, there is much more than what the sports media tells us.


One thing we have to keep in mind is that with the defensive metrics, Jeter is being compared to other shortstops while Chipper is being compared to other third basemen. Shortstops are better fielders generally plus it's a position of more scarcity. The two are hard to compare defensively.

That's very true Matt. Didn't Chipper also play left fielder

Only for a few years and that's another not-so-good fielding position. That's why Brett Gardner is the best left fielder (defensively) in the game by a lot (not to take anything away from him).

I might have to argue with you on that one... I am not sure who the best fielding left fielders are. I don't think Gardner has the arm

There aren't many good left fielders at all. And he's so quick out there that it doesn't really matter. He has an average arm, that's all he needs.

You are right in that he doesn't need the best arm.

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