Shortstop = Derek Jeter

Some years ago I got into a chat with Derek Jeter about playing shortstop. I mentioned to him that in doing some research for a story I was doing on Luis Aparicio, the Hall of Famer, I discovered that he only played shortstop in the major leagues. All 2,583 games of “Little Looie’s” career were at that position, which I thought was pretty interesting.

So did Jeter. We had been talking around the time Cal Ripken Jr. had moved from shortstop to third base about 15 years ago. We talked about how injuries forced players such as Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, two other Hall of Famers, to move off shortstop, to first base and center field, respectively.

“I’d like to try to play every game I’m in the field at shortstop,” DJ said. “It’s really the only position I know. If I’m good enough, I can do it.”

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Luis Aparicio at Yankee Stadium, c. 1959

It is fair to say that Jeter has been good enough. He was in the lineup as the designated hitter Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Barring his going into the field later in the game, DJ will have to wait until Friday night to match what Aparicio did. It would be Jeter’s 2,583rd game at shortstop, which would tie Aparicio for second on the all-time list of games played at that position. It will be an appropriate place to do it considering that Aparicio played for the White Sox in 10 of his 18 major-league seasons. He also spent five years with the Orioles and three with the Red Sox.

And just like Aparicio, Jeter has played only shortstop whenever he has been on the field. Jeter has been a designated hitter in 58 games but has played no other position in the field. The DH rule went into effect in 1973, which was Aparicio’s last season in the majors, but he was never a DH that year.

The record for career games at shortstop is held by Omar Vizquel with 2,709. He played several other positions, however, in his major-league total of 2,940. Vizquel played in 150 games at third base, 76 at second base, three at first base, one in left field and one in right field.

Since this is Jeter’s final season in the majors, he cannot catch Vizquel. The Captain is 127 games behind Vizquel. The Yankees have 116 games remaining in the season. But Jeter will end up with the distinction that for 40 years belonged to Luis Aparicio as the career shortstop.

5 Comments

It’s fair to say Derek Jeter has been a poor defensive shortstop throughout most of his career, and very poor in his thirties. He’s been a fantastic hitter and baserunner, and a HOF worthy player overall, but his resistance to moving positions hurt his team, and isn’t something to be lauded.

Hey Randy,

You know what else shouldn’t be lauded? Unfounded accusations. Jeter never has refused to move from short because no one ever has asked him to move from the position. Go through the archives and find a single quote from anyone associated with the Yankees that indicates he has ever been asked to move, much less that he refused. The quotes don’t exist. The issue never was raised, not even when the Yankees acquired Rodriguez.

You have no clue what quiet discussions Cashman had with Jetes. It’s very clear Jeter resisted a move, because no one in their right mind would have played Derek at short when they had Alex Rodriquez in his prime.

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No clue? I’m afraid that’s where you’re wrong, Mr.Hill. I’ve made my living in baseball, having interviewed hundreds of major league players, including Jeter (multiple times), agents, scouts, executives and writers. So, I have something more than a clue, and there has never been so much as a whisper that Jeter ever was asked to move from his position and, believe me, that’s the sort of thing that, even if nothing more than a rumor, would have made sports headline news.

However, Jeter is no longer the point. Your logic here is, if you’ll forgive me, more than a bit skewed. You’re essentially admitting that you have no proof that Jeter was asked to switch or refused to switch beyond your surmise, which amounts to no proof whatsoever. Because you think it’s obvious Jeter should have stopped playing shortstop some time ago–a point on which you and I happen to agree–you think others should share our belief, and that, therefore, the request must have been made. But, there is no proof at all that it ever was.

The bigger point is that you have chosen to publicly besmirch someone’s reputation without the support of any evidence, or than your guess at what might have happened.

If you think about it, I’m sure you can see why, whether you’re writing about Derek Jeter or Donald the store clerk, that’s wrong, morally and ethically wrong.

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