Appreciating Derek Jeter

A lot of times we want to write and talk about what is "next." It is always fun to tell you about some prospect who could be great one day. It lets the imagination run wild.

But in reality, these players almost never make it. If they do, they nearly always are not Hall of Famers. Most of the time, they are not even All-Stars. Regularly, they don't even become starters.

That is why I enjoyed reading Howard Bryant's tribute to Derek Jeter. It got to the core of who Jeter is and what he has accomplished so far.

Like Jackie Robinson, Jeter is pure baseball. He will be remembered for his baserunning (the clever beating of the shift by swiping third base that he made routine). He will be equally celebrated for his fielding and throwing. (Even though he doesn't rank anywhere near the top 1,000 in career defensive WAR, you can't deny the Flip, the nailing of Arizona's Danny Bautista at third in the 2001 World Series or the flying leap into the crowd against the Red Sox in the summer of '04.) And his hitting consistency is close to unmatched. (His injury likely will make his quest for 4,000 hits unsuccessful, but he is in range to catch Henry Aaron at 3,771 for third all time.) Not that he couldn't power the ball out of the ballpark too -- there was the first-pitch leadoff home run in Game 4 of the 2000 Series when the Mets had won the night before, and the two-out, full-count walk-off home run the following year in Game 4 against Arizona.

Jeter is rare in so many ways, but the fact he actually did live up to the hype and surpass it is unique. Bryant does a good job of highlighting why Jeter is special in an era defined by sabermetrics and steroids.