I’m not going to say that the New York Daily News is going overboard in their coverage of Derek Jeter’s pursuit of Lou Gehrig as the Yankees’ all-time hit king, but this morning they have no less than seven stories on their baseball front page about it. There’s the main news story. The column calling him, rather insensitively in my mind, “the pride of the Yankees.” The regular game story that goes on and on about it. Statistical backfill. Reactions from teammates. A psychological profile. And finally, a tear-jerking human interest story.
And he hasn’t even actually broken the record yet.
I congratulate Derek Jeter for his feat. I really do. But let’s have some perspective here, people. There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, and each one has a hits leader. Sixteen of those thirty teams have hits leaders with more hits than Lou Gehrig had for the Yankees. Right behind Gehrig/Yankees on that list? Garret Anderson with the Angels.
It’s a nice record. In Jeter/Gehrig it’s certainly a huge name passing an even bigger name. But it’s the kind of thing that should lead to a one day news event, not a week’s worth of coverage. Enough already.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: