Saturday, November 24, 2007

Time to move Jeter?

Throughout his career Derek Jeter has been one of the most polarizing figures in baseball. Sabermetricians call him a future HoF'er and great hitter but is one of the worst defenders at his position ever and heavily overrated because of the clutch hitters myth. Baseball insiders, fans, analysts, and writers praise him for his intangibles and clutch hitting while pointing out famous, flashy defensive plays by him. The classic debate of A-Rod versus Jeter always turn into an argument about the merits of using statistics to evaluate players or not.

By now I`m sure you all know where I stand on this. A-Rod is better and stats are very useful but you don't even need stats to see Jeter's terrible defense. He misses balls up the middle average SS's get. The solution to this problem is obvious. The best SS in baseball is playing right next to Derek Jeter. By now I`m sure you`re all sick of hearing this blasphemy about A-Rod and previously I agreed that A-Rod was the best SS in baseball. However, Alex has gotten bigger and at this point can't play SS anymore. However, I still believe the best SS in baseball is playing next to Jeter.

I believe Robinson Cano is the best short-stop in baseball. He`s demonstrated tremendous range to both sides. He was also considered being moved to third so we know he has the arm for short. His defensive stats are excellent and our own observations can back the statistics up. His only problem is that he occasionally would lose focus earlier in the year when he was slumping. As the year progressed this became less of a problem.

I also think Cano is the most overlooked and underappreciated player on the Yankees. Sure, he`s a homegrown Yankee and everybody loves him for it but earlier in the year when he was slumping everybody wanted him gone. In the 2006 ALDS Cano was usually batted 9th or near there. He`s always been in the bottom half of the lineup. He`s overshadowed by HR hitting veterans, former champions and fututre HoF'ers, and even his more exciting, also young, friend, Melky Cabrera.

Last year he rebounded from a terrible first half to hit .306/.353/.488/.292 (BA/OBP/SLG%/EQA) with top knotch defense from second. He is now generallly considered the best second baseman in baseball or at least the second best behind Jimmy Rollins. All this added up to an 11.8 WARP3. All of this is incredible for a 24 year old. If he were to be moved to shortstop his defense would be even more valuable.

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