The Secret to Jeter's Fielding

Just a quick post while I'm watching the Cleveland-New York game on the MLB Network. Cleveland tried a double steal with 1 out on what ended up being a weak pop up to shallow left. DeRosa was the trail runner on the play and never picked up the baseball, and he completely rounded second before realizing it was a weak pop up to shallow left and turned around to run back. Jeter, who made the play on the pop up, threw him out by a good 15 feet. Basically, it was a play that any shortstop in the game would have made. Catch a pop up and throw it to first when the guy is 80 feet from the bag.

Of course, this is the perfect play for Costas and Reynolds to explain to us how, despite all the evidence to the contrary, Jeter's poor fielding is saved by all these great plays he makes that never show up in the stats. What great awareness he had to think to check the runners after he caught the ball! Forget that every fielder from Little League up is trained to do that on every play. When Jeter does it, it's brilliant.

This, of course, provided to perfect segway for them to bring up another great play he made yesterday, when Cody Ransom had to come in to his left away from the bag to field a grounder with Gabe Kapler on second. Naturally, Jeter, who was already ranging toward the bag, was responsible for covering third on the play, and he did. Ransom proceeded to pretend to look Kapler back to second (ignoring that he was straying too far from the bag and could have been picked off at that point, but that's another issue) and then throw to first, when Kapler immediately took off. Teixeira then fired across the diamond to gun the guy at third for the double play. The most notable thing about this play? The tag by Jeter, apparently. He had to reach for it, but it was still a play that most shortstops make without issue. They went on and on in the booth about these great plays that you can't measure, and how you can't appreciate his defense without watching him every day, and that the sabremetricians will never get that.

The problem, it would seem, with watching Jeter play short day in and day out, is that it leaves you little time to watch anyone else play short. So you don't realize that the play you just saw Jeter make that doesn't show up in the stats is also made by the rest of the league.

But hey, what do I know? Apparently I don't even watch the games. Although, with this sandwiched between Jim Kaat talking about how he introduced the slide step to the game to validate his criticism of Sabathia's stretch motion ("I don't want to act like I invented anything, but...) and Bud Selig barging uninvited into the press box to talk about steroids, who could blame me if I didn't?


hostile postulate said...

i was watching a bit of the yankees/red sox game tonight, and even in the limited action i watched i saw jeter botch two plays - one was an error, the other was not. the play with the error was a grounder hit right to him, which he fielded cleanly but then threw about four feet short of first. teixeira couldn't field the pick cleanly, but the error was clearly jeter's. the non-error play was on a ball hit between the third baseman and shortstop. jeter got to it, but his weight was carrying him away from the right side of the infield, and he threw wide of second in an attempt to get the force, nearly throwing it away into right field. the problem wasn't really the throw but, rather, jeter's range - most shortstops would've gotten to that ball with enough time to set their feet better, and they maybe would've turned two.

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