Derek Jeter is often portrayed as the perfect team player, but the inevitably poor production of his age-40 season is putting the Yankees in a bind from which only he can free it. The reason so many people get annoyed with Derek Jeter, or more specifically, what we talk about when we talk about Derek Jeter, is an issue of completeness. There's the undisputed material: No one seriously disputes that Derek Jeter is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. No one can take away his 734 plate appearances in the postseason, complete with a .308/.374/.465 line that is slightly better than his career regular-season production. Jeter's managed to play for two decades in New York, and hardly done anything but bring positive headlines to his team, help the Yankees make the playoffs in, should they fall short this year, 85 percent of the seasons he collected at least one at-bat. He inspires writing like this by Roger Angell: "It's sobering to think that in just a few weeks Derek Jeter won't be doing any of this anymore, and will be reduced to picturing himself in action, just the way the rest of us do... He's been so good at baseball that he'll probably be really good at this part of it too." He's given us many iconic moments -- he's flipped baseballs, smashed his face into chairs. This seems like so much. It seems like it should be enough, the reality of Derek Jeter. Somehow, it isn't. There are people who will insist, to their dying days, that Derek Jeter is an excellent defensive shortstop. He's not, as far as we can measure such things. He isn't so horrific that it comes close to invalidating all the things I just mentioned. He's been playing the most demanding defensive position on the field. A bad shortstop may still be a more agile athlete than the best left fielder. Still, despite his obvious shortcomings compared to the average glove at his position, Derek Jeter won five Gold Gloves. He was awarded the award for best defense at the shortstop position five times. That's as many Gold Gloves as Dave Concepcion, more than Roy McMillan. Just to their left, Ken Boyer won five. Adrian Beltre has only won four! So yes, it irritates the rest of us, that Derek Jeter can't simply be extolled for all the things he is, but also has to be celebrated for all the things he pretty clearly isn't.
The indisputable selfishness of Derek Jeter
SB Nation | Sep 2