Does Derek Jeter have anything left to prove?

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SI’s Tim Marchman has a good piece up this morning in which he breaks out what the numbers and career progression would need to look like in order for Derek Jeter to pass Pete Rose for the all-time hits record.  Upshot: it almost certainly won’t happen, but it’s not impossible.

Personally I’d like to see it simply because Jeter is way more likable than Pete Rose ever was.  Of course that character is probably what will keep him from doing it because as Marchman notes, it takes a pretty shameless guy to hold on for as long as Jeter would need to after his prime in order to make it, and Jeter doesn’t seem like a Pete Rose or Brett Favre kind of guy in that respect.

More interesting for our purposes, though, is Marchman’s discussion of Jeter’s legacy. If you guys think I was disrespectin’ Jeter yesterday by simply saying that he’s overhyped, try this on for size:

What is an issue, more than the hits record he isn’t going to break or the controversies over his inevitable move off of shortstop and his contract that aren’t going to materialize, is Jeter’s legacy. For such a revered winner, Jeter has presided over a lot of failure as captain, from the worst collapse in playoff history to a nearly decade-long run during which absurd payrolls that routinely neared or exceeded $200 million bought not one world championship.

All of this is less his fault than anyone’s, but there are probably college freshmen with no clear memories of the last time Jeter won a ring. It would be nice to think he doesn’t have anything left to prove. But is it really true?

Before you go crazy, do know that Marchman prefaced all of this by saying “let’s stipulate that Jeter is great, as winning a winner as ever won.”

With that out of the way, I’ll say that I don’t think Jeter has anything left to prove.  To the extent the Yankees haven’t won a championship in the past several years it has been a function of (a) chance; and (b) less-than-ideal roster construction by the front office, and it’s not like Jeter could control either of those things.

And let’s remember: despite people complaining that New York is in some sort of title drought, winning a championship in a 30-team league is really tough, even with all of the Yankees’ inherent advantages.  That Jeter found himself on teams that won titles in four of his first five seasons is the anomaly here, not the fact that they haven’t won any since.

I think the only thing left to determine insofar as Derek Jeter’s legacy goes is whether he is “merely” great, as a typical decline between now and the end of his career would establish, or if he’s inner-circle great, as a multi-year continuation of his 2009 resurgence would show.  When you get to that level, however, you’re really splitting hairs, aren’t you?

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).