Eternal Questions for the Modern Mind

Derek Jeter, the "best fielding SS" in the AL

We all know these ones:

If a tree falls in the middle of a forest with nobody around, does it make a sound?

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Why does the ugliest guy at the bar always end up with the hottest girl?

How do the Pittsburgh Pirates still suck?

Well, here’s another:

If Derek Jeter didn’t play in New York, would he ever win a Gold Glove?

Seriously.

The AL Gold Glove recipients were announced yesterday, and Derek Jeter won for AL SS, for the fifth time!

Looking at basic fielding statistics, the choice appears sound.  Of the 16 AL shortstops who played at least 500 innings at the position, here are Jeter’s rankings:

Fewest Errors Commited – 1st (6)

Fielding % – 1st (.989)

Back in the day, that would be enough.

But you would think that in an age where advanced statistics are readily available, gold glove voters would be more intelligent.

Look at where he ranks in some more advanced statistical categories:

Total Zone Fielding Runs – 16th (dead last), at -10 (meaning he was 10 runs worse than an average SS)

BIS +/- – 15th (second last), at -13 (meaning he was 13 runs worse than an average SS)

Range Factor – 15th (second last)

Even looking at standard stats in a different way tells you a new story.  Jeter had the 7th most chances in the AL, but played the 4th highest number of innings, putting him dead last in chances per inning.  His ratio was 0.424 chances per inning; the league average was .505. 

That could mean a) he simply didn’t have a lot of balls hit to him this year or b) he isn’t athletic enough to reach the same number of balls as a normal SS would.  All you had to do was open your eyes this year to see that option b was more realistic.  What I saw was an aging player who was slower, less agile, covered less ground, and had a weaker arm than other shortstops.

Yet, because he plays in New York, because he looks good when he makes a jumping spin throw from the hole, and most of all because he’s Derek Jeter, more deserving candidates (Alexei Ramirez, Elvis Andrus, etc.) have to wait.

Good job voters, good job.

2 thoughts on “Eternal Questions for the Modern Mind”

  1. The guy never did cover a lot of ground. At this point, he’s not much more than a pylon. Maybe he got votes because he does other things well, like picking up smokin’ babes with tight joyholes and loose morals.

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