Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3 comments Allen Barra Thinks Everyone Who Thinks Derek Jeter Shouldn't Be in the Hall of Fame (Very Few People) Specifically Stats Nerds (Why Them?) are Just Plain Wrong

Allen Barra is very proud of the way he has mastered Jemele Hill's art of creating an argument few people are making and refuting this argument. He's so proud he has mastered this he is showing off his new found skill in an article about Derek Jeter. See, those haters and stats nerds who don't think Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame are wrong. There is the fake argument. It's an argument that doesn't exist. There are probably a few people who don't think Derek Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame, but there isn't a vast conspiracy of stats heads who don't think Jeter should be in the Hall Fame. Yet, Barra insists there is. Hence, he refutes the argument that few are making. Very impressive.

Barra is well-known for loving himself some Derek Jeter. So much so his Wikipedia makes mention of this fact. So much like Jemele Hill (when she wrote more than she does now) would write an article entitled, "Rex Ryan is not a racist who dresses like a clown and has sex with vagrants" and then disprove this idea, Allen Barra is very pissed off that the stats nerds and haters who generally don't exist think Derek Jeter shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

To my knowledge, what the Baseball Hall of Fame did yesterday was unique: It tweeted the date for an induction ceremony for a still active player to be welcomed into Cooperstown. The date, if you want to make your reservations now, is July 26, 2020. (A player must be retired for five years before he goes on the ballot.) And if I were you, I wouldn’t wait.

Allen Barra will be there with a picture of Derek Jeter that he wants autographed, along with some boxers that he sucker-punched Minka Kelly for on a brisk, autumn day as she was walking down the street with Jeter's dirty laundry. Obviously Derek Jeter would never have a washing machine in his abode, because Derek Jeter has no dirty laundry anywhere near him. So after Barra sucker-punched Kelly he got a pair of Jeter's boxers and one of Jeter's jock straps that he sniffs every morning in order to wake up in a good mood. So let's just say, Barra will be there at the induction ceremony in 2020. Even if he's dead, he has paid for a hologram of himself to show up at the induction ceremony.

Not only will Derek Jeter be a first ballot selection, he may well be what Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron weren’t  – 

Super-cute and still a little bit mysterious?

a unanimous choice.

Oh. I don't think Jeter will be unanimous, though I have learned through the years to never underestimate a sportswriter's love for Derek Jeter. I just think if Greg Maddux can't get into the Hall of Fame unanimously then Jeter will probably miss a few votes too.

If that happens, and I think there’s a very good chance that it will

Really? "A very good chance?" No baseball player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously and a surefire guy like Greg Maddux wasn't voted in unanimously, but there's a good chance Jeter is the first unanimous selection? I wouldn't take a bet that Jeter will be the first baseball Hall of Fame member to be voted in unanimously.

If one had to synthesize most of the recent Jeter coverage under one headline, it would be: Is Derek Jeter a True Hall of Famer or Is He Overrated?

If I had to synthesize my response to this then I would have to do so in two parts:

1. What the fuck is a "True Hall of Famer" mean when this is in all-caps? Is Jim Rice a "True Hall of Famer" or just a "Hall of Famer"?

2. Derek Jeter can be a Hall of Famer and be overrated. They are not mutually exclusive from each other.

I guess I forgot that we live in a world where there is no medium and a person has to take either one extreme viewpoint or another. This world is better known as "A lazy way to write a column" and right now Allen Barra is happily inhabiting this world.

There isn’t any doubt that he is going to get into the Hall of Fame. Only nine players in the history of baseball have more hits than Jeter. He’s a 13-time All-Star with five World Series rings. And he’s tremendously popular. If you put down a deposit on a hotel room in Cooperstown for July 2020, it’s good as gold.

I think it is universally accepted that Derek Jeter is going in the Hall of Fame. Even the stats nerds who think Jeter is a bit overrated as it pertains to fielding accept this view (which it turns out Barra accepts this view...only he doesn't acknowledge he accepts this view because that would be a criticism of Derek Jeter, which is against the rules). Quite simply, the group of people that Allen Barra believes to exist does not in fact exist.

Those who have cast doubts about his HOF worthiness have always stressed  the lack of bold numbers on his statistics page on BaseballReference.com. In other words, he never led the league in many offensive categories.

Part of the problem is Allen Barra is too busy being angry and pounding angrily at his keyboard with his vitriol directed at anyone who says Jeter isn't the best Hall of Famer in the history of Hall of Famers that he doesn't understand the argument being made. The argument isn't about Jeter not being Hall of Fame worthy, but the argument is that Jeter is just a bit overrated. Barra doesn't comprehend that Jeter can be a Hall of Famer and a bit overrated. It's possible.

This is true. He only led the league in runs scored in 1998 and in hits in 1999 and 2012, and HOFers have usually topped the list in more stats than that.

So in the realm of the "The best baseball players of all-time" Jeter might be getting a big boost for his clean reputation, that he has only played for one team during his career and the fact he has been on five World Series champion teams. Few are saying Jeter should not be in the Hall of Fame and if anyone is saying that then that person is not intelligent. Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame, but his intangibles and being "a winner" seem to help make his Hall of Fame case for him, which means in terms of statistics he is a bit overrated. I realize it is a sin to even acknowledge that Jeter may not be perfect or slightly overrated in some aspect or another.

He was never quite a match for the top superstars of his era. Or as Ted Berg put it in USA Today (in a piece titled “Derek Jeter is the most fervently overrated shoo-in for the Hall of Fame”), 

Oh, so Allen Barra has read the article, he just can't read and comprehend what he is reading. Great.

“In terms of overall value to his teams, Jeter just doesn’t stack up to recent historic greats like Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds, and can’t quite match great contemporaries like Chipper Jones and Jeff Bagwell either.”

This is also true, but not to the point.

It's exactly the point if you are writing an article stating that you bet Derek Jeter will be the first unanimous Hall of Fame selection. If Jeter can't match his great contemporaries like Bagwell, Bonds, Pujols, and Jones then how does he deserve to be the first unanimous Hall of Fame member? Therefore, one could logically deduce that since Jeter could be the only member of the Hall of Fame unanimously voted in then he could be a slightly overrated. So the fact Jeter doesn't measure up to his contemporaries is exactly the point. If Jeter isn't as good as his contemporaries then how would he deserve to be the first, and only, unanimous Hall of Fame selection?

Jeter is a greater player than a Yankee shortstop of the 1940s and early 1950s, Phil Rizzuto, who is in the Hall of Fame. Nobody said Rizzuto should not be inducted because “He doesn’t quite stack up with Ted Williams and Stan Musial.”

No one was saying that Rizzuto was probably going to be the first unanimous Hall of Fame selection either.

For that matter, of the 23 shortstops in the Hall of Fame, Jeter is probably more worthy than all but three or four – Honus Wagner, for sure, probably Arky Vaughan, maybe Cal Ripken and Ernie Banks (who is officially listed as a first baseman, though he won back-to-back MVPs at shortstop).

I don't know that anyone is arguing this point that Jeter is very, very deserving of being in the Hall of Fame. I think the point being made is that Jeter is slightly overrated, which is especially true if he is unanimously elected into the Hall of Fame. Jeter isn't even the best shortstop of all-time, much less the best baseball player of all-time, so a unanimous selection would be overrating him a bit.

I don’t trust any of the supposedly scientific measures of fielding ability, but here are two that surely have  some measure of validity: Jeter’s career fielding percentage, going into the 2014 season, is .976, compared to the average for players at this position over the same period has been .972.

The fact you don't trust (though more likely this means, "I don't understand them and don't care to understand them") scientific measures of fielding ability is a reflection on you, not a reflection on the fielding metric itself. A fielder can't commit an error on a ball he can't get to. So Jeter's career fielding percentage is great compared to other fielders at his position, but there are metrics that measure what balls a shortstop was able to get to as part of how well he fielded his position. That's what makes Andrelton Simmons such a great fielder, that he gets to balls other shortstops can not get to, which means he is a better fielder because he can get to these balls. See how it works? So Jeter's career fielding percentage is great, but if you don't argue on the merits of the argument this fictional conspiracy of stats heads are using to keep Jeter out of the Hall of Fame then there is no point in arguing. The merits in this situation are that stats heads point out how Jeter's range was limited for portions of his career according to UZR, so refuting this by pointing out Jeter's fielding percentage misses the point completely.

His range in the field has been four chances per nine innings while other shortstops over the same span averaged 4.5. I’d say that on the whole this indicates that Jeter was an average fielding shortstop, perhaps a tad below average.

Which is the argument advanced by stats heads who insist on pointing out that Jeter was indeed an average to below-average shortstop at times during his career. Yet, the Gold Gloves kept piling up, which didn't always make sense. THAT is the point being made, so thanks for helping that point to be proven.

But he hit and ran the bases well enough for the Yankees to keep him there regardless of his defensive deficiencies.

In any event, he isn’t going into the Hall of Fame because of his fielding – he’s going in because of his hitting and base running.

But...but...but...the point being made is that Jeter is a tad overrated because he wasn't a great fielder according to some advanced fielding metrics. It seems that Allen Barra is willing to concede this point while still violently clutching to the idea that there is no way Derek Jeter was overrated in any way.

Let’s save time and compare Jeter to a hitter who everyone acknowledges as a legitimate Hall of Famer – or at least they would if Pete Rose hadn’t  tarted betting on baseball games.

An editor is badly needed for this sentence. Again, comparing Pete Rose to Derek Jeter isn't going to convince the vast conspiracy of stats heads that don't exist that Derek Jeter deserves to be in the Hall of Fame...mostly because this group doesn't seem to exist. Have I mentioned they don't exist yet? Allen Barra seems to have critically misread Ted Berg's column for "USA Today." I'm not even sure he read it at this point.

Writing, "Derek Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame because he favorably compares to Pete Rose" doesn't mean that Derek Jeter isn't overrated nor does it mean Jeter should be the first unanimous Hall of Fame inductee. Barra's argument is just so silly. His points so far about why stats heads are wrong about Jeter are:

1. Fine, they aren't wrong about the main criticism of Jeter, which is his fielding. Still, don't be a hater and stats heads are still wrong.

2. Jeter is a perfectly average fielder and to call him an excellent fielder is wrong, but fuck it, let's do it anyway.

3. Derek Jeter isn't overrated and should be a first ballot Hall of Famer because he compares favorably to Pete Rose.

4. Mostly, you know that argument that Ted Berg made that Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer, yet still a little overrated? Well, he's wrong because Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer no matter what Ted Berg never said otherwise.

Jeter’s career batting average is .312 to Rose’s .303, and even if Derek played another five seasons to match Pete’s 24 years, and his skills declined over that time as Rose’s did late in his career, Jeter would still end up with a higher batting average.

Jeter has a higher on-base percentage than Rose, .381 to .375, and had a considerably better slugging percentage, .446 to .409.  When you combine these two numbers into the stat beloved by so many analysts, on-base plus slugging, Jeter has an even bigger edge, .828 to .784.

I think rather than spending time proving that Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer because he compares favorably to Pete Rose, Allen Barra should spend time looking for all these stats heads who say Derek Jeter shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame so the entire premise of his article doesn't seem like a joke or a desperate attempt to defend Jeter's honor.

And, if you want to throw in fielding, whatever shortcomings Jeter has had with a glove, he was better than Rose, who was never more than adequate at any of the several positions he played.

What a disaster. If the premise of this article was supposed to be "Derek Jeter was a better baseball player than Pete Rose" than these comparisons to Rose would be pertinent. Unfortunately it's not the premise and these comments about Jeter being a better player than Rose are not pertinent and in no way tells us why the fictional stats heads who don't want Jeter in the Hall of Fame are wrong.

If you check my Wikipedia page – and I’m not advising you to since just about everything on it is wrong – you’ll find reference to a Deadspin story back in 2009 titled “Jesus Is the Derek Jeter of Christianity.” The author (unnamed) says that I “think Derek Jeter should win the MVP despite the pesky fact that Joe Mauer is a better candidate …”

The author was in fact not unnamed. It was "Junior" from "Fire Joe Morgan." Clearly, Barra seems to show a willing lack of reading comprehension on various levels and not just when it comes to reading articles that pertain to Derek Jeter.

I never said Joe Mauer was a better MVP candidate than Jeter. What I said was that most of Mauer’s statistics were better and that “the case for Mr. Jeter” – the Wall Street Journal makes you refer to men who are living as “Mr.” – “as American League MVP is made by more subjective arguments.”

Well unfortunately the MVP award isn't a subjective award where you can be like Bernie Miklasz and state that because you see a guy like Yadier Molina play everyday and know what he means to his team then that means he should be MVP. So subjective attributes like leadership, banging supermodels/actresses/brunette women in general and being a nice guy aren't quantifiable and therefore shouldn't be taken into account when selecting an MVP.

Come on, are you going to tell me that Derek Jeter wasn’t a great teammate and that he didn’t contribute to his team in ways that don’t necessarily show up in a box score?

It's obvious with this sentence being written that Barra has missed the point entirely. The point isn't that Jeter doesn't contribute in ways that don't show up in the box score or he isn't a great teammate. The point is that the MVP is decided by statistics and which player is most valuable in tangible terms to his team. I don't know if Barra is smart enough to know he's making a typical straw man argument. The argument isn't about whether Derek Jeter is a great teammate, but about whether Jeter's performance exceeded Joe Mauer's performance in 2009 to where he should be named MVP over Mauer. Barra is the typical sportswriter who is incapable of arguing on the merits of what is being discussed without changing topics or countering with a straw man argument.

Except maybe in the “win” category?

Wins are a team statistic and should be somewhat irrelevant as it pertains to an MVP vote. A win or loss for the Yankees is partially representative of the teammates that Jeter has around him.

After all, the Yankees did win the American League pennant and the World Series that year. And really, why would Jeter need special arguments to be an MVP in a year when he hit .334 with 18 home runs, 212 hits, 107 runs scored, 30 stolen bases and an OBA of .406?

I'm not sure what "OBA" is, though it appears to be "OBP." The fact Barra can't put three letters together accurately shouldn't be a shock given his apparently inability for reading comprehension.

Also, Mauer hit .365 with 28 home runs, 191 hits, 94 runs scored, 4 stolen bases and an OBP of .444. He did this in 523 at-bats while Derek Jeter had 634 at-bats. I think the 21 fewer hits and 13 fewer runs scored can sufficiently be explained by the 111 fewer at-bats that Mauer had during the season. Of course, this requires analysis to understand and Allen Barra appears incapable of understanding an article he is reading and what it states, so I wouldn't expect him to understand that Jeter had over 100 more at-bats than Mauer and what this means for Jeter's statistics.

Have some of us overrated him a bit? A bit, maybe, but we’ll happily bear that cross.

So it is possible for Jeter to be a Hall of Famer and a little bit overrated. Also, if Jeter is a little bit overrated then how in the holy hell does he "deserve" to be the first unanimous Hall of Famer? This makes not of sense. No Hall of Fame inductee has ever been unanimously inducted, so I still don't get why Jeter should be that first inductee to be unanimous. Also, where in this article is there any evidence that stats heads are wrong about Jeter? Was that just a cheap way to try and get pageviews, by trolling the audience?

See you in Cooperstown in 2020.

Which is where Derek Jeter deserves to be and no fictional stats heads conspiracy has said differently. 

3 comments:

Crazee said...

I bet Peter King completely agrees with his column, considering Jeter is the best player of his lifetime and all.

Bengoodfella said...

Well obviously. Derek Jeter is the absolute best player of this generation. Really the Philip Seymour Hoffman of the baseball world.

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