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Is Derek Jeter Overrated? This ESPN Insider Says Yes ... And No

Alright, be honest. Those that root against the Bronx Bombers just perked up after reading that headline. Meanwhile, Yankees fans were appalled. 

A topic of discussion that has resurfaced in the last several months during Derek Jeter's Hall of Fame candidacy was brought up once again on Thursday by a prominent baseball insider. 

In a piece designed to settle each of the 30 big-league franchise's biggest debate, ESPN's Jeff Passan explored whether or not The Captain is overrated. 

Here's a snippet of his contribution to the compilation of arguments solved (or in some cases, stoked):

Had [Jeter] not been a Yankee for the entirety of his 20-year career – not sheathed in New York mysticism, not the subject of enmity specifically because he wore pinstripes, not built up to be something he never was because parochial affection is hallucinogenic in its ability to warp minds – the question of whether Derek Jeter is overrated wouldn't even exist.

But he was. And it does. So we might as well answer it.

Start with facts. Jeter was one of the best offensive shortstops in history – maybe the best. Jeter was a slightly above-average defensive shortstop in his finest years and a bad one as he aged. Jeter possessed excellent instincts and admirable leadership skills. Jeter's numbers in the playoffs were almost identical to those during the regular season, and the win probability added for his playoff career spanning 158 games was 0.02, according to That ... is not great.

No matter which side of this debate you're on, or if you have no horse in this race, we can all agree that what Passan writes here is reasonable. No one can argue that Jeter is an all-time great – his near-unanimous induction into the Hall of Fame is proof of that as all but one of America's most esteemed and experienced baseball writers deemed him fit for Cooperstown.

The argument heats up, however, when diving deeper into Jeter's numbers and advanced analytics – as so many do nowadays. Passan doesn't even specifically address Jeter's defensive metrics, just referring to them as "bad" in the latter parts of his career. 

READ: Using any Yankees in franchise history, what's your lineup for one must-win game?

Yankees fans reading this are no doubt screaming internally: 'But how can you look past his résumé?!'


It's true. Five World Series titles, more than 3,000 hits, clutch individual moments on both sides of the ball, two decades of durability beyond one lost season due to injury, consistency from an American League Rookie fo the Year Award to an All-Star Game appearance in his final season... the list goes on and on. 

READ: Derek Jeter's Hall of Fame induction ceremony canceled due to COVID-19

So, how does Passan conclude his portion of this piece? Is there a definitive answer to this timeless debate on New York's icon? Take a look:

All in all, final verdict: Yes, Derek Jeter is overrated by a group of people that speaks in all caps. Yes, Derek Jeter is underrated by a similar group that attributes his accomplishments to his Yankeeness. Ultimately, Derek Jeter is properly rated as one of the best shortstops and best Yankees ever because the combination of consistency and length of career is rare and enviable.

Fair enough. Both sides can have it their way and evidently have valid arguments to support their beliefs.

We can all agree, Jeter will go down as one of the best Yankees to ever don pinstripes. Whether or not his value has been exaggerated over the years, or the Hall of Famer was undervalued ... that's for you to decide.

To read more from Passan and the other ESPN baseball writers that weighed in on this piece – including an attempt to discern how long the Houston Astros' 2017 World Series title will be tarnished, click here

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For more from Max Goodman, follow him on Twitter @MaxTGoodman. Follow ITP on Twitter @SI_Yankees and Facebook @SIYankees