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December 4, 2004
Updated January, 2005
Updated again, Nov 3, 2006
Updated again, December, 200
9
Updated again, December 2010

Derek Jeter Wins Second Third Fourth Fifth
Gold Glove

Editor's Note: Derek Jeter won his secondthird fourth Gold Glove for the 20056910 season.

It's about time. Finally, Derek Jeter is justly rewarded for being one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, awarded with the 2004 Gold Glove for American League shortstops.

Jeter, with spectacular range and head's up play, has been one of the best defensive shortstops in the game for several years now. His signature move deep into the thirdbase-shortstop hole to snare a grounder and then the Jordanesque leap in the air and rifle throw to first base to get the runner has been showcased in World Series and pennant playoff games. The leap is Jordanesque; the leap with the powerful off-balance mid-air throw is Jeteresque.

But what he does better than any ballplayer I've ever seen in the 41 years that I've been watching baseball is going deep into the outfield, back to the plate, to catch pop flies -- maybe the most difficult play for an infielder to do. In fact, when Jeter came up to the Yankees as a rookie in 1993, it was his spectacular forays into shallow outfield that first made Yankee fans stand up and take notice.

And then there are the highlight-reel plays -- "the catch" against the Red Sox during the 2004 season, where he saved the game in extra innings with a back-to-the-plate, full-speed catch of a shallow fly ball, and then crashing into the stands. Or "the relay", when he came out of nowhere against the Oakland A's in the 2001 pennant playoffs to snare that errant throw to the plate, and backhanded it to Posada for the out to preserve the 1-0 lead. Or there was "the perfect relay" against the Mets in the 2000 World Series, when he fired a bullet to home from deep outfield to nail the runner and turn the game and series to the Yankees' advantage.  

And on and on it goes. The only detraction to Jeter's defense in previous years was the occasional bobble that every infielder experiences. Never that many, since Jeter's total errors for each year have generally been in the teens; a good number for a shortstop. But in 2004, the occasional bobbles were kept to a minimum as Jeter made only 13 errors. Jeter has had other years just as good -- 1998 for instance when he only made 9 errors for a higher fielding percentage (.986); but that was during the Omar Vizquel era, as Omar was winning nine straight Gold Gloves.

Jeter's defense is just part of his overall A-1 game. Add to it a high batting average, ability to get on base, hit line drives all over the park with power, head's up baserunning, ability to score runs, and to take the field with an air of confidence and enthusiasm that sets him apart from the Alex Rodriquez's and Nomar Garciapara's and Miquel Tejada's of the world. Jeter is one of the most fun-to-watch baseball players to play the game.

AL Gold Glove Shortstops
During Jeter's Prime

Year

Player

1995

Omar Vizquel

1996

Omar Vizquel

1997

Omar Vizquel

1998

Omar Vizquel

1999

Omar Vizquel

2000

Omar Vizquel

2001

Omar Vizquel

2002

Alex Rodriguez

2003

Alex Rodriguez

2004

Derek Jeter

2005

Derek Jeter

2006

Derek Jeter

2007

Orlando Cabrera

2008

Michael Young

2009

Derek Jeter

2010

Derek Jeter

The Egg in ESPN's Face

Wasn't too long ago that ESPN's Page 2 was nominating Jeter as the most overrated baseball player in one of its juvenile on-line contests. That was back in June of 2003 when Jeter was coming off a separated shoulder that kept him out of the first two months of the season. Jeter was batting .250 at the time, and ESPN was all over him like a pack of hyaenas onto a wounded gazelle. Jeter went on to almost win the batting title that season, and follow up with a terrific year in 2004 both offensively and defensively. No word on whether ESPN will be holding a "most vapid and arrogant sports journalist" contest anytime soon, but we suspect they've got a few on staff they can nominate. 

-- LouV

 

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