Last week, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced that he would retire at the end the 2014 baseball season after 20 years in baseball. The Yankees captain and future first ballot Hall of Fame candidate has been a fixture in the New York lineup since 1996, playing an average of 144 games per season; that figure jumps to 153 if you discount his injury-plagued 2013 campaign in which he managed just 17 games due to injury.
His career appearances at shortstop is by and far the most by a player in a Yankees uniform; Phil Rizzuto is a distant second with 1647 appearances, while Frankie Crosetti is third with 1516. He has also played the most games of anyone in a Yankees uniform, 2602, which is over 200 more than the great Mickey Mantle.
In contrast, over the same time period, the shortstop position has been remarkably fluid for the Boston Red Sox, especially since 2004 when the team traded away perennial All-Star Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs at the deadline. Since 2005, no player has held that role for longer than two seasons and only one player has started at least 150 games in a single season.
The following is a season-by-season comparison of Jeter’s statistics, including adjusted OPS (OPS+), range factor per nine innings (RF/9), which measures the average number of outs in which a player participated over nine innings, and wins above replacement (WAR). All statistics are compiled from Baseball-Reference.com.
In comparison, the following is a list of Red Sox players who have made the most starts at short by season since 1996.
In terms of offensive value, Jeter has by far had better numbers in terms of adjusted OPS when compared to his Boston counterpart, made even more noticeable since Garciaparra’s departure. The high water mark for the Red Sox since 2004 was last season, when Drew posted an OPS+ of 111, just slightly better than Scutaro’s 110 in 2011.
In terms of defensive value, Jeter has rarely posted numbers much better than his Red Sox counterpart in terms of range factor per nine. Only twice in the past 18 seasons has Jeter posted a better average than his Boston counterpart.
Overall, Jeter’s wins above replacement, which measures both offensive and defensive value, have been considerably better; only two Red Sox shortstops have posted a WAR better than 2.0 — again, Drew (2013) and Scutaro (2010 and 2011).