Derek Jeter, retiring at season's end, is Box-Toppers' 2nd-ranked all-time shortstop

  One in a series

One in a series

Box-Toppers’ Stick-A-Fork-In-Them series looks at 14 players whose careers are done or may be done. Included is a look at how they have fared in Box-Toppers points over their careers, reflecting their impact on the game over time. This is the sixth of the series:

6. Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter said this week he will retire at the end of the 2014 season, ending a 20-year career at the age of 40.

Jeter, who has 76.4 career Box-Toppers points, ranks second among all shortstops (Box-Toppers record keeping began when he made his Major League debut in 1995), 60th among all batters and 121st among all players. He finished among the top 10 American League batters only once (1998) and finished as high as second place in AL Most Valuable Player award voting once (2006). 

Derek Jeter

Here are Derek Jeter's Box-Toppers statistics. The third column shows his Box-Toppers points (BTP) per season. The final column shows his All-Star Selections, his Box-Toppers key season rankings and his standing in key postseason awards voting.

YearTeamBTP Notes
1995nyy al0.0 
1996nyy al4.5RoY-1
1997nyy al2.0MVP-24
1998nyy al10.0AS, BTP-51, BTP-AL bat-9, MVP-3
1999nyy al2.0AS, BTP-409, MVP-3
2000nyy al2.5AS, BTP-400, MVP-6
2001nyy al5.0AS, BTP-200, MVP-10
2002nyy al5.0AS
2003nyy al2.5MVP-21
2004nyy al8.7AS, BTP-68, BTP-AL bat-16, MVP-3
2005nyy al4.0BTP-238, MVP-10
2006nyy al6.7AS, BTP-135, MVP-2
2007nyy al7.0AS, BTP-112, BTP-AL bat-29, MVP-11
2008nyy al3.0AS
2009nyy al1.0AS, BTP-571, MVP-3
2010nyy al5.0AS
2011nyy al4.5AS
2012nyy al3.0AS, BTP-319, MVP-7
2013nyy al0.0 
Total 76.4BTP-121, BTP-bat-60

AS All-star selection
BTP Finish among all players in Box-Toppers points
BTP-AL bat Finish among all AL batters in BTP
MVP Finish in league Most Valuable Player Award voting
RoY Rookie of the Year

Source: Information for player awards comes from Baseball-Reference.com

Jeter, of course, has spent his entire career with the New York Yankees—so far. (This season has yet to play out, so there’s always the chance Jeter will be dealt to the Astros—or the Red Sox … OK, probably not.)

Miguel Tejada is the only shortstop with more career Box-Toppers points than Jeter. Tejada, currently a free agent who has played primarily for the Athletics and the Orioles, has 102.3 points. Jeter is just ahead of the third-place shortstop on the “all-time” list—Nomar Garciaparra has 74.9 Box-Toppers points.

Jeter’s Box-Toppers point totals seem a little low given his longevity, his profile and his accomplishments—five-time World Series champion, 2000 World Series MVP, 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, membership in the 3,000-hit club (he has 3,316 at present) and Yankees team captain since 2003. Plus, his seasonal point totals are lower than expected given his general Jeterian-ness—he has only one season with 10.0 Box-Toppers points.

Why doesn’t he have more Box-Toppers points? A couple of reasons: Box-Toppers tends to favor players with fat batting lines—lots of hits, runs and runs batted in. No doubt, Jeter has a lot of hits, but because he has hit early in the line-up and because he doesn't necessarily hit for power, he does not rack up RBIs as quickly as some. (For example, Jeter has 1,261 career RBIs over 19 seasons. Just behind him on the all-time RBI list is Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, who has nearly as many RBIs as Jeter in just over half the time—1,260 RBIs over 11 seasons.)

Plus, Box-Toppers awards only one player for each game—the one who most contributes to his team’s win. Jeter has had a lot of competition for Player of the Game in a Yankees’ lineup stocked with All-Stars. He played on a team that had a lot of power hitters—Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams, for example. Those players were more likely to drive in runs, which drove the Box-Toppers formula to give them Player of the Game honors more often and thus, earn more Box-Toppers points. 

He also competed for points against some of the all-time great pitchers on his team—Roger Clemens, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. With so much talent around him, competition for Box-Toppers points (though they probably had no idea they were competing for Box-Toppers points!) was fierce.

Shortstops also generally don't receive as many Box-Toppers points because they are hired mainly for their fielding—which Box-Toppers ignores—and not for their bat. That all supposedly changed in the 1980s when Cal Ripken Jr. of the Orioles brought power hitting to the shortstop position (Box-Toppers tracking didn't begin until the end of Ripken's career, but he did record 26.9 Box-Toppers points from 1995 to 2001.) In the 1990s, three phenom players ran with Ripken's shortstops-that-can-really-hit model—Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, then of the Red Sox and Alex Rodriguez, then of the Mariners.

Garciaparra, as previously mentioned, accumulated 74.9 Box-Toppers points from 1996 to 2009 (though late in his career, he played first and third base). Rodriguez played shortstop for his first eight seasons with the Mariners and the Rangers, racking up 87.5 Box-Toppers points over that time, which is more than the 76.4 Jeter has over 19 seasons. Rodriguez switched to third base in deference to Jeter when he signed with the Yankees in 2004 and has accumulated 91.8 more Box-Toppers points over those 10 seasons, giving him 179.3 for his career. But the most successful shortstop of the Box-Toppers era (since 1995) is none of those three, but Miguel Tejada, with 102.3 points (a few of the points earned while playing third base and designated hitter).

On Box-Toppers all-time batting ranks, Jeter ranks 60th, just behind these five players—John Olerud (77.8), Shawn Green (77.6), Edgar Martinez (77.5), Mark McGwire (77.3) and Travis Hafner (76.9). He is just ahead of these five players—Pat Burrell (76.0), Jermaine Dye (76.0), Vernon Wells (75.8), Luis Gonzalez (75.3) and Garciaparra (74.9).

Jeter scored at least one Box-Toppers point in 17 straight seasons, from 1996 until 2012. He did not score any points in his injury-shortened 2013 season, ending the streak. Some other career highlights for Jeter:

• In 1998, he had 10.0 Box-Toppers points, the most he had in any season. He finished ninth among all AL batters and 51st among all players in Box-Toppers points, both rankings were his highest for a season. He finished third in AL MVP voting. (The winner, Juan Gonzalez of the Rangers, had 16.3 Box-Toppers points, second among AL batters to Albert Belle of the White Sox with 16.4.)

• In 1999, he had only 2.0 Box-Toppers points, but finished third in AL MVP voting.

• In 2004, he had 8.7 Box-Toppers points and was again third in AL MVP voting. (Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels was voted MVP. He had 14.4 Box-Toppers points, fifth among all AL players.)

• In 2006, he had 6.7 Box-Toppers points and was second in AL MVP voting, his highest finish. (Justin Morneau of the Twins was voted MVP—he had 12.2 Box-Toppers points, seventh among all AL batters.)

• In 2007, he had 7.0 Box-Toppers points and was 11th in AL MVP voting.

• In 2009, he had only 1.0 Box-Toppers point and was ranked 571st among all players in Box-Toppers season rankings. Yet, he still finished third in AL MVP voting.

Jeter’s Box-Toppers numbers often don’t correlate well with baseball writers voting for MVP, especially in years like 2009, when Jeter had but 1.0 Box-Toppers point, yet finished third in MVP voting. Again, Jeter’s point totals may have been kept low because he has not been a power hitter and has competed with an all-star Yankee line-up for points. But Jeter’s play was often spectacular, flipping impossible relays, diving into stands for a foul ball, hitting dramatic World Series-game winning homers. It’s hard to ignore that, but unless it shows up in a box score batting line during a regular season game, Box-Toppers does, indeed, ignore it. Plus, Jeter had the squishy intangibles working in his favor—he was a clubhouse leader, a heckuva guy writers liked and fans admired. Box-Toppers really doesn’t pay attention to that either. It also doesn’t hurt that Jeter is playing in New York and able to attract a lot of attention. But Box-Toppers doesn’t award bonus points for performing well in the media hub of the world.

Box-Toppers is another metric through which players can be compared. Jeter has done well in Box-Toppers points, not so much as a dominant player season-by-season, but more for his long-term legacy and for what he has accomplished over a two-decade career.

Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. Players earn Box-Toppers points for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.

Coming next in the series: Mariano Rivera

Previously in the series: Alex Rodriguez, Roy Halladay, Manny Ramirez, Johan Santana, Jim Thome