Hitters

Is Derek Jeter worth $161 million?

derek-jeter

He has been known throughout his career as one of the most respectful, consistent baseball players of his era. Once known as the ‘big three’ shortstops with Alex Rodgriguez and Nomar Garciaparra, Jeter might be the only relevant player nowadays (with Garciaparra constantly injured and A-Rod with his name in the tabloids). It may be true he is a poster child for baseball, that his manner both on and off the field is the most desired by managers. Oh, and some consider him a meat head (i.e. Linda) or a cute guy with a nice butt (i.e. Hana). But the real question is, is Jeter worth the $161 million he has accumulated as salary for his services from the Yankees (and furthermore, is he worth the $189 million contract he received as a 26 year old)? Well, based on…:

Postseason Play

Jeter has appeared in 6 World Series, helping to win 4 of them and receiving MVP honors in the 2000 series. His career postseason numbers are very respectful as shown below:

G

123

PA

562

AB

495

R

85

H

153

2B

22

3B

3

HR

17

RBI

49

SB

16

CS

4

BB

51

K

96

AVG

.309

OBP

.377

SLG

.469

OPS

.846

But just because his statistics are favorable and the fact he was known as ‘Mr. November’ doesn’t tell the whole story. When people talk about postseason play, they regard players who do well under pressure as clutch players, that without them the team wouldn’t have been as successful. Jeter is one of those guys. The problem with weighting postseason play is that great playing ability might still be underperforming for a player, as is the case for Jeter. A statistic used known as Wins Probability Added shows that Jeter is at a -0.33 for his career in the postseason (from 2002-2007), while his WPA for his career during the same period is at a 13.85 clip .

What does this mean? Despite his great numbers in standard baseball statistics, it is evident after signing his huge contract he didn’t have much to offer the Yankees in the postseason. WPA doesn’t go far back enough to see how his play helped the Yankees to win the 4 world series rings, but this does show how he can’t be considered as Mr. November every postseason he is in. Fans give too much weight to a small sample such as 4 years, where players play only about 15 games max if they get to the World Series.

Defense

You might see Jeter make amazing looking plays in the field, but the truth of the matter is those plays would look like routine plays for top tier shortstops like Miguel Tejada in his prime. Jeter has been criticized for his small range and his footwork. His Ultimate Zone Rating (a statistic that sums the runs value a fielder adds to a team compared to an average replacement) has been consistently below average. Thus there is much skpeticism as to whether or not he deserves the numerous Gold Gloves (an award for elite defense) he has been awarded. Only starting this season has Jeter shown major improvement in fielding the toughest position in baseball.

Yankee Revenue

The Yankees, on average, receive about $300 million in revenue each season. Obviously, this figure changes each year, especially with this year’s arrival of the new palace Yankee Stadium. Over the past 10 years, the Yankees have received $81 million in extra revenue due to their post season success. How much of this can be credited to Jeter? As a ten time All-Star, it’s obvious New Yorkers come to see Jeter play day in and day out. In order to get to the playoffs, a team must have a solid regular season record. As I stated earlier, Jeter has a pretty high WPA for his career during the regular season. Thus, he can be attributed to both the economical success of the Yankees during the regular and post seasons. Merchandise and advertisement as the proud Yankee captain can also be credited to his name. Thus all said in done, it seems evident Jeter makes the Yankees a ton of money. He’s been on top of the boards almost every year in offensive statistics, as well as maintaining a leadership position in the world’s most scrutinized city, where tabloids can ruin your name (see Alex Rodriguez).

Say if Jeter was replaced by an average shortstop because they didn’t want to give him the money he ‘deserved’. New Yorkers would go mad and hang the owners of the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family. But what if the Yankees had an up and coming shortstop who had stellar defense and could hit on par with average major leaguers? Jeter has gaping holes in his fielding abilities, which makes his bat less of a threat. In 2005, the Yankees were the worst defense to have made it into the playoffs. With a cumulative UZR of -130, their offense made up for it with a sum of +139 runs added. It’s no wonder they’re called ‘the Bombers’, but with no fortified steel defense.

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