Baseball: one sport where it definitely pays off to make it look really hard when you do something really easy

November 4th, 2006 → 10:52 am @ // No Comments

Derek Jeter won the 2006 AL Gold Glove at shortstop over Alex Gonzalez.

Compared to Gonzalez, Jeter had a lower fielding percentage (.975 to .985), a lower zone rating (4.14 to 4.36) and a lower range factor (.821 to .863), which means Jeter made a higher percentage of errors per chance, got to less balls hit to his area of the field, and made fewer plays per nine defensive innings. (Besides that he was great.)

One thing Jeter is quite good at is making plays other shortstops made with relative ease look as if they require Herculean efforts (think of his mad scrambles to the right, resulting in a pivot, whirl, and mid-air throw across the body; what’s generally lost in all the oohing and ahhing is that said ball was only about two feet away from Jeter to begin with). These are plays that good shortstops (Alex Gonzalez, say, or Pokey Reese or even Alex Rodriguez) make look easy. Heck, even Pokey’s in-the-stands grab in the famous July 1, 2004 game at Yankee Stadium was better than Jeter’s head-first dive…but since Pokey didn’t emerge bruised and bloodied, no one’s talking about him anymore.

Very smart people who know much more about baseball than I do have argued that Jeter is among the worst defensive players in all of baseball; I won’t go there. But his Gold Glove is nothing more than one more piece of proof that baseball coaches and managers are not always the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Post Categories: Alex Gonzalez & Derek Jeter & Gold Gloves

6 Comments → “Baseball: one sport where it definitely pays off to make it look really hard when you do something really easy”

  1. redsoxtimes

    17 years ago

    I just did a write up on the same thing at the Red Sox Times.

    1. Jeter actually cost the Yankees runs over the course of the season.

    2. Lowell was as robbed at 3rd by Eric Chavez this season.



    17 years ago

    The times I’ve watched Jeter play he seems like a decent shortstop. I’ve seen him make some errors but it’s absolutely amazing to think he might be one of the worst defensive players in the game. On the other hand the stats show it was a no-brainer that Gonzalez played better than him. This kind of idiocy makes baseball awards look about as meaningful as People’s Choice acting awards.


  3. redsoxtimes

    17 years ago

    I think that when you watch Jeter, you see him make the plays that are hit to him. So he doesn’t look like say Edgar Renteria did 2 years ago. I think his relative lack of range is his biggest detriment on the field.


  4. cdemartino77

    17 years ago

    THANK YOU!!!! I’ve been saying that Pokey’s catch that nite was much better than the showboat Jeter smashing his face into the seats.
    The fact of the matter is Jeter is a winner and a great player, but he doesn’t deserve the awards he’s winning beating Gonzalez for the Gold Glove is a joke. Though not as funny as beating out Papi for Hank Aaron Award this year, and he’s going to snatch the MVP award from him too. This kind of stuff makes me sick.


  5. Scep

    17 years ago

    First off, great call on comparing Pokey’s catch to Jeter’s.

    I watched the end of a Sox / Yankees game this season with a friend who loves Jeter. Of course, Jeter made a patented all-out-effort-jump-throw to throw someone from the Sox by an eyelash for the final out of the game. My friend turned to me and smiled because he knows I share your opinion of Jeter’s defensive prowess. As the ESPN announcers continued to gush, they ran replays of the play and it clearly showed that Jeter was unbelievably slow to react. While neither A-Rod nor Rivera could get to the ball from their positions, they had each taken a full step before Jeter started to move. Even my friend had to admit that Jeter took a basic play and made it look spectacular. Unsurprisingly, neither announcer made mention of his slow reaction to the ball.

    Jeter’s gives it all he has, is extremely knowledgable and no one worries that he’ll make a gaffe in the late innings, he’s far from the best defensive shortstop in the American League.


  6. TBone1

    17 years ago

    I read the arguement that Pokey’s catch was better a while back, and was lucky enough to catch a replay of that game. Let me preface this by saying that I’m a Yankee fan, and I don’t think Jeter is a great fielder.

    Anyway, when rewatching this game, I noticed that Pokey travelled a farther distance to make his catch, but the ball was hit much higher than the ball Jeter caught. In fact, the ball was in the air for 0.5 seconds longer for Pokey than for Jeter. By the time Pokey made his catch, Jeter was already in the stands.

    Now, I’m in no way suggesting that Jeter is the better fielder. Pokey played in the majors for 8 years despite having an OPS+ of 68 because he was a tremendous fielder, and he probably could have made Jeter’s catch without going into the stands. But I disagree with the idea that Pokey made the tougher play.


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