Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why Chipper Jones is Better Than Derek Jeter


Chipper Jones has been in the news a lot lately. He almost burned down his house and all of Atlanta last week and this week he played hero by rescuing Freddie Freeman from the Atlanta snow/ice storm. I found it kind of comical since Freddie was one of the spineless Braves who went along with the idea of boycotting Chipper's first pitch ceremony during the playoffs. The mascot of the Braves ended up catching Chipper's first pitch as the rest of the gutless wonders sulked. Chipper was asked for his prediction on the series and he was honest with his opinion while still showing support for his Braves. This wasn't good enough and the team decided that nobody would catch his first pitch. I bet Freddie was happy Chipper didn't wait for the Braves mascot to go out and get him. I lost respect for the 25 guys in that dugout and the guy who is supposedly leading them, Fredi Gonzalez. Of course Fredi was probably preoccupied with how he was going to use Craig Kimbrel in the most ineffective way possible in the playoffs. Moving on....

The Derek Jeter vs Chipper Jones topic has come up in a few places lately. This has me licking my chops. I always love to get into the topic of Derek Jeter and uncovering the myth with a thing called facts. The Sweet Spot Blog by David Schoenfield had a comparison piece in which he favored Chipper Jones. The comments after his post were pretty comical as angry Yankee fans showed their ignorance.

In their defense (no pun intended), it is tough when the facts come out about Jeter and his very below average defense. One of the greatest pieces you will ever read on Derek Jeter and the fallacy of him being a good defensive shortstop was written by Ben Lindbergh and was titled The Tragedy of Derek Jeter's Defense.

Schoenfield breaks down Jeter and Jones this way:

By one metric, the clear edge goes to Jones. By Baseball Reference's WAR analysis, Jones finished his career at 85.1 WAR. Jeter is at 71.6 WAR and not likely to get much higher. 

At the plate, Jones was better, and it's not that close; he produced about 557 runs above an average hitter while Jeter is at 366. When you factor in positions, Jeter actually has the advantage in offensive WAR -- 94.1 to 87.5 (including baserunning, where he has a 52-run advantage). 

Jeter, however, gives all that away on defense. Baseball Reference grades him as 234 runs below an average shortstop over his career. There are many who won't buy that. Hey, Jeter won five Gold Gloves after all; we know Gold Glove voting can be a joke, but it's not like they've been handing them out to Delmon Young and Adam Dunn

The one advantage Jeter has is durability; he has played 150 games in 13 seasons, plus two more with 148 and 149. Jones was durable early in his career, but after he reached 32, he topped out at 143 games and six times was below 130. 

But has that durability been that much of an advantage? From age 32 to 40 (his final season), Jones posted 36.7 WAR while Jeter has posted 23.2 WAR from 32 to 39. Jeter, of course, has nearly one entire vacant season on his ledger after playing just 17 games last year. Overall, Jeter has played 103 more games in his career, with one season in hand.
 


This is when the Jeter fans get angry and start spouting off about his rings, how clutch he is in the postseason, and that great play he made against the Athletics in the playoffs. They will then start spouting off about him being The Captain and how he does everything to put his team first and is always and I mean always about winning. Of course I wrote about this fallacy in my post titled The Captain?. Remember, the greatest shortstop in baseball joined the Yankees in 2004. His name was Alex Rodgriguez. The Captain was an average shortstop at best. Guess who didn't move? I know AROD has become a punch line now and is unlikeable as they come but please don't give me this win at all cost leadership by Jeter. It is about as true as his gold glove defense.

Would it be too much to ask Jeter to change positions for the good of the team? It wasn't too much to ask Pete Rose. He moved to third base to get the bat of George Foster into the lineup. It also wasn't too much to ask Chipper Jones. He moved from third base to left field to get the bat of Vinny Castilla in the lineup. 

I will take Chipper Jones over Jeter in a second. You think Derek Jeter is riding out on an ATV to pick up Alex Rodriguez in a snow storm? 

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