Buster Olney wants people to stop calling Derek Jeter overrated
Buster Olney of ESPN has apparently heard lots of people say Jeter is overrated, and wants to squash that mentality, so he wrote an entire column (In$ider) about why Jeter is one of the greatest players of all time.
Unfortunately, what Olney doesn't realize is that by comparing Jeter to guys like Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and others that he mentioned in the column, he's exacerbating the problem.
Of course Jeter is overrated, if people like Olney want to say his name in the same breath as guys like that.
The argument for Jeter's greatness always starts and ends the same way.
Step 1: They instantly get defensive about Jeter's defensive shortcomings, and try to jump out ahead of the curve by mentioning them first. Olney does this, by pointing out that Jeter is essentially the worst defensive shortstop of his era:
Step 2: They compare him offensively to other shortstops, who were never in baseball for their offensive prowess. Olney follows lock-step in this format, as he proceeds to note that Jeter's offensive WAR more than makes up for his defensive efficiencies, and places him ahead of the other shortstops in his era.
Of course, Olney doesn't stop to consider the fact that a vast majority of shortstops are defensive specialists, and it's a position that has been traditionally defensively minded.
Step 3: Look at the postseason numbers that Jeter compiled, and pretend that he didn't have far more postseason at bats than anyone in the history of the game, or that he wasn't surrounded by HOF-laden $200M rosters.
Olney lauds Jeter's postseason performance, noting that he's far ahead of even the 2nd most prolific postseason hitter. Let's ignore the fact that Jeter played in an era with more postseason games than any other, and that he has played on the team with the highest payroll in the league for nearly his entire career.
Olney even goes so far as to acknowledge that Jeter didn't actually step his game up in the postseason, so he tries to give him credit for not shrinking in the clutch. As if "not sucking" is an argument for greatness.
Step 4: Completely disregard whatever hurts your argument.
Conveniently, in his attempt to elevate Jeter to godlike status, he omitted several of the best shortstops Jeter played with.
Omar Vizquel was one of the best defensive shortstops of all time. With a WAR just over 16 at shortstop during Jeter's career, he would have placed 2nd among defensive shortstops. Interestingly enough, he's nowhere on Buster's list.
Miguel Tejada and Nomar Garciaparra were both offensive-minded shortstops, with overall WAR as a shortstop of 45.8 and 42.4 during the Jeter era, respectively. But where are they in Buster's list? In an effort to make the gap between Jeter and the next best offensive shortstops, did he just decide to omit them entirely? Or was it just a sloppy, lazy oversight?
Last but most certainly not least, what about Alex Rodriguez?
In only 9 seasons as a shortstop, A-Rod put up a WAR of 63.7, only 7.8 behind Jeter's 19-year total of 71.5. If A-Rod had played only one more season, he would have likely tied or even passed Jeter's WAR total in just over half the amount of seasons.
Yet instead of that happening, Jeter's stubbornness pushed the obviously superior (defensively AND offensively) A-Rod to third base, giving Jeter the opportunity to win the first Gold Glove of his career.
Why isn't A-Rod listed in any of Olney's lists? His defensive WAR alone is 17.9 higher than Jeter, and his offensive prowess runs circles around that of Jeter.
All of these reasons, among others, are why Derek Jeter is and will always be overrated.
Keep in mind: This is not to say that Derek Jeter isn't a great baseball player. He absolutely is, and deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
But when people twist the facts and skew reality in an effort to exaggerate his greatness, that's the textbook definition of overrating a player.
Congrats, Buster Olney, on proving yourself wrong.