As the title suggests, today’s WAR lens focuses in on shortstops from around the league. This of course includes our very own, El Capitán. Before you read the rest of this post please understand the following:
1) WAR is not the be-all end-all to sabermetrics by any means, and yes, it isn’t perfect.
2) WAR attempts to incorporate both offense and defense. Consider oWAR for the exclusion of defensive value.
3) WAR is designed to represent the number of wins a player adds to the team above what a replacement player (AAA/AAAA) might contribute.
4) WAR value translation: 8-plus is an MVP-caliber performance; 5-plus is an All-Star-caliber performance; 2-plus is starter-level; 0 to 2 would be a reserve; and below zero is Replacement Level.
5) The objective of this exercise is to provide a brief synopysis of how each Yankee player is valued relative to other similarly positioned players around the league in comparison to a replacement level player (your typical AAA guy). This is not intended to be an evaluation of the players’ specific abilities.
At the risk of acquiring more hate mail for not guzzling the Derek Jeter Kool-Aid©, I’m going to try and make some unbiased observations. Firstly, it comes to no surprise to anyone in their right mind that Derek Jeter hasn’t posted his typical offensive stats this season. Therefore, it should come as little surprise to anyone in their right mind that his oWAR isn’t as high as guys like Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez who both have been excellent with the bat and have been absolutely destroying the ball.
With that being said, he does rank fairly similarly (this year, mind you) to players such as Stephen Drew, Jose Reyes and Marco Scutaro who are all more-than-respectable shortstops. Perhaps the appropriate conclusion to be drawn here is that Jeter is still a valuable shortstop (although who knows for how long) and is still favorable offensively. Although he might not have elite offensive ability anymore (Kevin Long may take offense to that ever since his intervention), Jeter is still more productive than most shortstops. Clearly, there is value in that! On a side note, when taking a look at Jeter's 2009 stats, his season becomes that much more incredible. He really was enjoying renaissance highs in nearly every category, while simultaneously defying Father Time.
On the other hand, he's tied for the worst dWAR of the group. Even last year when he had improved on his range, he was only valued at a 0.3 dWAR which is ever so slightly above replacement level (as opposed to his 2010 dWAR of -1, or just below). This really shouldn’t surprise anyone given his age and the fact that he’s always had mediocre horizontal movement. Yet, at the same time, I can't help but notice that Jeter’s dWAR really isn’t that far off from anyone else on the list. Cliff Pennington, who has the highest value, is at positive 1.2. That’s only a 2.2-dWAR spread which ultimately seems rather negligible. Basically, a shortstop who is essentially serviceable defensively combined with a plus-bat, is still a worthwhile commodity. The Yankees seem to recognize this fact as do most other organizations.
In terms of actual salary, Jeter is on an entirely different plane, far removed from everyone else (which of course is why he's scrutinized far more severely than everyone else). The next-highest paid shortstop, Reyes, is making less than half what Jeter is making. Without completely rehashing the pending salary discussion (debate), it’s clear that Jeter’s contribution is coming at significant expense. Honestly though, what else is new? This is NY. They are the Yankees and he is Derek Jeter.