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Monday, June 18, 2007

The Great Debate

After the wrap-up of this season’s installment of the Subway Series, I felt compelled to weigh-in on the recent debate surrounding the question: Who is the best shortstop in New York?

To me, this question is extremely premature. That being said, Derek Jeter, without question, is far superior to Jose Reyes.

Don’t get me wrong; Reyes is probably the most exciting player in Major League Baseball. He is the catalyst and key to the Mets’ formidable lineup and his explosiveness and prowess on the basepaths makes him invaluable to his team. He has a quick bat and can hit the occasional homerun, and Reyes probably has a better throwing arm than half the pitchers in the Mets’ current rotation.

But the only thing that really distinguishes Reyes from Jeter is his speed (and, perhaps, the fact that he is a switch hitter). Derek Jeter is a better all-around hitter. He hits for a higher average (.342 compared to Reyes’ .320 this season), scores more runs, and possesses more power. Jeter also drives in more runs, but that I won’t hold against Reyes considering he is a leadoff hitter and Jeter’s customary position in the Yankees batting order is 2nd.

More importantly, Derek Jeter is a winner. Jeter made his Major League debut in 1995, but was a rookie in 1996, his first full season in the big leagues. All he did that season was earn the Rookie of the Year Award, hit .314 and win a World Championship- all at the tender age of 22. Through his first five seasons in the majors, Jeter had a .312 batting average, 78 homeruns, 996 hits, and, incredibly, four World Series rings, an All-Star MVP, and he was named the MVP of the 2000 World Series.

Reyes, on the other hand, is currently batting .289 lifetime (this being his 5th M.L. season). He has 36 homeruns, 611 hits, and one National League pennant under his belt. In other words, 0 Championships. Even if the Mets were to win it all in ’07, he’d still be three behind his counterpart.

What Reyes also lacks is the leadership quality that propelled Derek Jeter to be named Yankee captain in 2003, only the 11th in New York Yankees history.

Jose Reyes has tremendous upside, and has the potential to be one of the best shortstops, not just in New York, but of all time. As of right now, though, all it is is potential. A few years ago, plenty of people were ready to crown Ken Griffey, Jr. the “Homerun King.” Now, despite Junior’s recent resurgence, he’s not getting anywhere near Hank Aaron. It’s one thing to look at a player and project his potential; it’s another thing for him to actually go out and fulfill it. If Reyes can sustain his excellent numbers for another 7+ seasons (and win a couple of World Series’ in the process), talk to me then.

But for now, Derek Jeter still reigns supreme in the Big Apple.

(Photos from Yahoo! Sports)


Anonymous said...

Well done. I agree, Reyes is exciting, talented and potentially a "shortstop for the ages", but once again, the anti-Jeter fans fail to realize what type of stats he puts up, and the intangibles that just about every manager in the American league mentions when discussing Jeter. As you say, as of now, Jeter is still #1 in New York.

Jimi Hiendrichson said...

Oh and WHAT a DEBATE it is. It's been SO long, Lara, I FEEL as though I SHOULD introduce myself again. Hi, I'M Jimi Hiendrichson and I'm GERMAN. I'm a BIG fan. Anyway, GOOD article. I FOUND it very informitive and NOW when I have DISCUSSIONS with my GERMAN friends I can GIVE them these stats. THANKS!

Anonymous said...

Reyes is younger so I would take him over Jeter at this point. But there's no guarantee he'll end up being as successful as Derek. In fact it'd be pretty damn hard. Good article.

lomijavake said...

reyes, if he keeps stealing as many bases as he does, is gonna run himself into the ground sooner or later. i doubt he'll have the longevity of derek jeter.

Anonymous said...

damn right jeter's better. i'm sick of mets fans thinking they rule the city. right now? same record, mets and yanks. and the yankees play real teams (aka american league) so tak ethat