Update: Nephtuli and EDS have taken up the cause. See their excellent posts from several more statistical perspectives. Basically, not only is this not even an argument, the side that thinks Jeter’s not a Hall of Famer doesn’t even have a legitimate leg to stand on. It’s that obvious.
My friend Kenny, who sometimes comments here, was the only one to heed my call for a guest post. Unfortunately, his post was so bad, I couldn’t in good conscience post it without taking the time to research the issue with some real statistics and analysis and prepare a cogent counter-argument that exposes all the major flaws in his rant.
First, Kenny’s argument (the relevant part of the anti-Jeter rant): Like it or not, stats say a lot. What does Jeter have in comparison to SSs and hitters who played while he played? 3000 hits? Whoop-dee-doo. The guy also has a ton of at bats. According to baseballreference.com, Jeter is #16 on the at bats list for active players. Jeter is between two and nine years younger than each of the individuals who comprise #s 1-15. The next youngest is 35 and Jeter will surpass that player’s at bats easily by the time he is 35. So without getting into a debate about OPS and VORP and WARP and SCHWARTZ, because Yankees fans have pointed to the 3000 hits, I just want to say that that is a joke – he also has tons of at bats. Yes, he has to be very good to get 3000 hits but he’s not putting up the batting averages that Tony Gwynn put up. .317 or .315 just doesn’t do it for me today in terms of validating an entry into the hall of fame.
My turn: Your argument doesn’t hold water. If you had looked at numbers even a little bit (even without your unecessarily derogatory dig at valuable statistics) you’d see the vast gaping holes in your argument (aside from it not being the “Hall of As Good As Tony Gwynn”).
Go to Baseball reference and spend a few minutes perusing the at bats, hits and batting averages of all the players who have 3000 hits in their career (all 27 of them, all of them Hall of Famers, except Pete Rose). You will see that Jeter’s career .317 average ties him for 12th on that list with Roberto Clemente, ahead of such HOFers as Paul Molitor, Hank Aaron, George Brett, Pete Rose, Willie Mays, Al Kaline, Lou Brock, Rafael Palmeiro, Eddie Murray, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount, Dave Winfield, Craig Biggio, Rickey Henderson and Cal Ripken.
B,b,b…what about at bats? He has so many at bats. Actually, at his batting average, if he reaches exactly 3000 hits and no more, he’ll do it 9454 at bats, fourth fewest on the list. But wait, that’s not really likely, is it. Clemente’s career was stopped short. What if Jeter plays 18 seasons? 19? 20? Well, at his current pace (which I admit may dwindle just a touch) after18 seasons (at age 38, the expiration of his current contract) he’ll have 3490/11013, putting him at #6 on the all-time hit list, and seventh on that list in at bats. If he plays 19 seasons (until he’s 39), he’ll have 3684 hits in 11624 at bats, good for fourth all time on both lists. And if he plays 20 seasons (until he’s 40), he would be third on both lists. You really think #3 all-time hit leader doesn’t deserve admittance into the Hall of Fame (or even the “Hall of As Good As Tony Gwynn”)?
B…b…but….what about power, you’ll stammer? Of the list of people who have 3000 hits, Jeter’s likely career-ending number of about 300 homers would put him in the low teens, or 12th, depending on the exact number. Not too shabby. Not exactly punching judy.
B…b…but, some of those people are old, played in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when power numbers were down. Excellent point, I say. We really should have a number, some statisitc, that gauges batting average and slugging and the whole shebang. And while we’re at it, we should adjust the number for ballpark influences and balance it for all time, so that players from different eras can be measured against each other. That would be fantastic. Know what? There is such a stat. It’s called Adjusted Equivalent Average, or AEqA. Know what Jeter’s AEqA is for his career? .304. Yes, his numbers (his batting average) take a hit because he doesn’t have commensurate power numbers (that you would expect from his era) with his batting average. But, know where that puts him on the all-time hit list? 15th. That’s right. Of the 27 players who currently have 3000 hits, all of them Hall of Famers (or soon-to-be, with the exception of punitively kept out Pete Rose and Rafael Palmeiro) he would be 15th. Better than Lou Brock, Cal Ripken, Craig Biggio, Robin Yount, Pete Rose, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield, Rod Carew, Roberto Clemente, Eddie Murray, and Cap Anson. And only .003 points behind George Brett, Tony Gwynn and Paul Waner. (In case you, or anyone else, is interested, here’s a link to a great article explaining why EqA is a much better statistic than batting average. In a nutshell, it correlates much more closely to run scoring, which is the essential goal of baseball.)
I think your irrational hatred of Jeter blinds you to a lot of things. But the “argument” you emailed me last week really has no merit. There’s no question that if Jeter continues his career at his current pace, he will be, and he will deserve to be, a Hall of Famer.