Michael Young = Derek Jeter?

On the Monday evening ESPN SportsCenter, Dave Winfield was highlighting the big plays of the afternoon tilt between the Rangers and the Tigers. Since Michael Young went two-for-four with a big RBI double that broke open a tied, scoreless game in the seventh inning, Winfield was right to attribute much of the offensive glory to the longtime Ranger. He was the offensive WPA champ of the game (+.184) on the revamped box scores.

But maybe Winfield went a little too far when he said “Michael Young is the Derek Jeter of the Texas Rangers.” Derek Jeter still plays shortstop and owns all those rings! Then again, we might find with a little uncovering that the description was apt.

First blush doesn’t do the comparison justice. Jeter has 70.3 WAR and blows Young’s 25.6 WAR out of the water. But Jeter has 10,588 plate appearances to Young’s 6,745, and is two years younger. Pro-rate Jeter’s WAR to Young’s PAs and you get 44.8 WAR for the Yankee shortstop, which probably reflects Jeter’s .371 career wOBA compared to Young’s .346 number. Young does own a .374 wOBA lifetime, at home, but Winfield did not say that “Michael Young at home is the Ranger’s version of Derek Jeter in any stadium.” It looks like an overall comparison fails before we even get to defense portion of the equation.

But let us zoom in on the last three years, if only because that’s about how long our short-term baseball memories seem to last. In the last three years, both players have shown declining bats and gloves. They even share a resurgent year. Check out their wOBAs and fielding runs above replacement for the past three years:

Young Jeter
wOBA FRAR wOBA FRAR
2008 0.331 -4.6 0.343 -0.3
2009 0.385 -7.6 0.390 6.4
2010 0.335 -5.4 0.320 -4.7

Well now we’re getting somewhere. Yes, Jeter is still a tiny bit ahead because of his one-year defensive improvement, but this paints the picture of two declining players. They are both still capable of a strong year but are also both much more likely to put up a year that looks like an average offensive player than an outstanding one. Over this time period, Young has accrued 9 WAR (29.6 Batting Runs) and Jeter 13.3 WAR (41 Batting Runs).

Defense is interesting part of this equation, obviously. Back before Jeters’ 2009 resurgence at shortstop, he was the topic of much consternation, as the defensive numbers for him were execrable. He’d lost 40.4 UZR runs in his past four years and was described as the worst defensive shortstop of the era. Unfortunately for Young, that wasn’t quite true. Since 2002, only one shortstop has had a worse UZR total than Jeter (-42.4). That shortstop is Young (-55.6). In 2008, Young was switched off the position and lost four runs of positional replacement value with his move, on average.

But check out the batting runs above, and you see that even with the gloves taken out, and even with the help he gets for being two years younger than Jeter, and even with the scope narrowed to the last three years, Young doesn’t really make it to the Cap’n’s level.

If Winfield had said that “In the past three years, Michael Young’s impact on the Rangers in home games has been similar to Derek Jeter’s impact on the Yankees in that he represents an aging bat connected to an aging glove and complications related to prior service to their teams,” then he would have been correct. But that wouldn’t play so well on television.



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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


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DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve always said the only difference between Jeter and Michael Young is the quality of Jeter’s teammates over the years…

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 3 months ago

… and ~20 WAR (over the same year span, much more career difference).

I would LOVE to say that the difference between Jeter and Young is “teammates”. But, that’s not the case. No matter what lens you look through, those two images aren’t the same.

Matt
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Matt
5 years 3 months ago

Well, you’ve always been wrong.

Steve
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Steve
5 years 3 months ago

If only there were an article to read about this!

Rally
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Rally
5 years 3 months ago

A few years ago when I first started writing for Hardaball Times, I thought up a list of topics and one was a comparison of Young to Jeter. Thinking they were similar offensive players, poor defenders, and Young toiled in obscurity because he wasn’t a Yankee.

A few minutes of research threw that idea in the trash. Jeter has a substantially higher OBP and does so without benefit of a great hitter’s park. Young is at best a poor man’s Jeter.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 3 months ago

Totally agree.

Like I said, a few years ago I threw in the towel in being President of the Jeter Hater Club. I got tired of losing. One can only say “he’s an over-rated defender” so many times before it pales in comparison to all of the areas that he is superb (or at least really good).

I really like Michael Young, but he has not turned out to be the player I thought he would. It would be awesome if we could show that some under-rated guy was Jeter’s statistical equal but only received less fanfare because he did not wear the NY over his heart.

AJS
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AJS
5 years 3 months ago

But WAR is to some degree a counting stat, right? Even if their wOBAs and UZRs were constant, wouldn’t Jeter have a higher WAR than Young because he gets more plate appearances due to playing with a better offense?

Garrett
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Garrett
5 years 3 months ago

Yes. Like every other counting stat, when you hold rate stats EXACTLY THE SAME whoever gets more attempts will have higher counting stats. Though I’m not sure how that is relevant to this.

Mike R.
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Mike R.
5 years 3 months ago

I find it hillarious that those who claim that Jeter is the most overrated player evah are just as disoriented with advanced statistics as those enamored with Jeter.

Garrett
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Garrett
5 years 3 months ago

Anyone with a passing understanding of advanced statistics should be enamored with Jeter. Inner circle HOFer? No. One of the 50 best position players ever? Possibly. First ballot HOFer? Almost without question.

Jeter is highly underrated by the “intelligentsia”.

Ian R.
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Ian R.
5 years 3 months ago

I don’t think stat people disagree with the level of praise Jeter has received. It’s the things he’s been praised for. The mainstream media often laud Jeter’s defense, which is bad. They often praise him for leadership and just ‘willing his team to win,’ which may well be true, but it’s at best a small factor. They point to his awesome postseason performance, in spite of the fact that his overall postseason line is pretty much exactly the same as his overall career line.

Meanwhile, Jeter isn’t praised so much for the thing he should be praised for: being a fantastic offensive shortstop. He’s a possible top-50 all-time player just because he hit so well from such an anemic position. He’s also never won the MVP award, despite deserving it in 2006.

In other words, the treatment Jeter has gotten from the mainstream media is absurd. They correctly by-way-of-incorrectly praise him as an awesome player, but the reasoning behind it is totally wrong.

KB
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KB
5 years 3 months ago

Reaching. As much as I hate that Jeter is massively overrated, he’s not comparable to MY.

Captain
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Captain
5 years 3 months ago

this. i have to believe Winfield was not saying that quote in a statistical way either.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 3 months ago

Also, Dave Winfield says lots of stuff … not much of it is incredibly insightful, but in the realm of “baseball talk from a baseball guy”.

Dave Winfield is good at being Dave Winfield. That’s not an insult or a compliment, just stating that Dave does a good job at giving perspective from a former player’s view. His commentary is of varying quality, and rarely very deep.

willreno
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willreno
5 years 3 months ago

Winfield doesn’t say MY is the same as DJ but that he is a version of him on another team. He may be hinting that the drop from NYY->TEX is the same as DJ->MY.

nolan
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nolan
5 years 3 months ago

Eno, just a small correction, but Jeter is two years older, not younger, than Michael Young. I did have to check to make sure.

Kirkwood
Member
Kirkwood
5 years 3 months ago

I think that’s what he was saying, but he just worded it awkwardly.

TheGrandslamwich
Member
TheGrandslamwich
5 years 3 months ago

I feel the quote was more a comment on the longevity and offensive consistancy than overall production.And if your are going to be ambiguous on position a Tejada reference is necesary.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
5 years 3 months ago

longevity with team, leadership role, steady play, face of franchise for some time, the one the other teammates look up to, yes, i can see Young=Jeter for their respective teams. No, not a statistical equality or comparison, but a team role/position one yes.

neuter_your_dogma
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neuter_your_dogma
5 years 3 months ago

This is how I interpreted the comment. However, even this comparison is off.

puffy
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puffy
5 years 3 months ago

Take a quote out of context and prove it “wrong”. Fangraphs being Fangraphs.

joser
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joser
5 years 3 months ago

Miss the point and post an empty “criticism”. Fangraphs commenters being Fangraphs commenters.

Joser.2.0
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Joser.2.0
5 years 3 months ago

Follow British English rules of placing the period outside of the quotation marks of a quoted phrase or word. Fangraphs commenters commenters being Fangraphs commenters commenters.

Ian R.
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Ian R.
5 years 3 months ago

Incorrectly pluralize the first use of the word ‘commenters’ when it should be ‘commenter.’ Fangraphs commenter commenter commenters being Fangraphs commenter commenter commenters.

puffy
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puffy
5 years 3 months ago

The premise of the point is invalid, rendering the point moot. Less stupid people realize this.

Rob
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Rob
5 years 3 months ago

Highly overpaid, poor defense, throw a fit when talked about having to move from SS for a better player, almost left their team in the offseason. Seem pretty similar to me.

adohaj
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adohaj
5 years 3 months ago

I agree. There are obvious parallels. Jeter is to the Yankees as Young is to the Rangers. This does not mean Jeter=Young. I don’t see how anyone could interpret that Winfield’s statement meant Jeter=Young.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 3 months ago

Konerko is the Albert Pujols of the White Sox. *grin* There are some parallels.

If Michael Young was the franchise shortstop of the Rangers, that would be a key parallel. He’s not. He used to be way back when. But, he’s not.

fredsbank
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fredsbank
5 years 3 months ago

so you didnt read the article, did you?

waynetolleson
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waynetolleson
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve made the same comparison in my mind. There are some very obvious similarities between Young and Jeter. Both play(ed) shortstop, but were more good hitters who could play the position, and not necessarily great defensive shortstops.

Young probably had a little more power than Jeter. Jeter had a better BA and drew more walks, making him consistently better at getting on-base than Michael Young. Jeter was also a much bigger threat on the bases, stealing 323 bases with a 79% success rate. Young stole just 81 bases, and was successful in 75.7% of his SB attempts.

Although he was never an elite defensive shortstop by any stretch, Jeter was probably a better defensive shortstop than Michael Young. Both players have been very durable over their careers – Jeter has fourteen seasons with 148 GS; Young has eight such seasons.

A main reason behind difference in their career totals is that Derek Jeter’s career took-off at a younger age than Young’s. In his rookie season in 1996, Jeter batted .314 with 183 H, a .370 OBP, an .800 OPS, 104 R, and 78 RBI. Jeter turned 22-years-old in 1996. Jeter improved over the next several years, and then maintained that level of performance through 2009.

Michael Young didn’t reach the major leagues until he was nearly 24-years-old, and those were two AB’s he had a September call-up in 2000. Young started 106 games in 2001, batting .249 with .699 OPS. In 2002, Young batted .262 with a .690 OPS and a .302 wOBA.

It wasn’t until 2003, when Young was 26-years-old, that Young had his first impact season, batting .306 with 204 H, a .785 OPS, a .342 wOBA and 106 R. Even that season wasn’t quite on par with Derek Jeter’s rookie season. Jeter basically had a six-year head start on Young when it comes to compiling career totals.

Many people continue to say that Derek Jeter is overrated. Perhaps he is overrated in some circles. When one looks at his statistics, however, one must admit that this player was consistently productive in a very competitive field for a very long period of time.

Joe
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Joe
5 years 3 months ago

Jeter blows Young away. But nowadays, it’s pretty close.

Bill
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Bill
5 years 3 months ago

Very similar. Slight edge to Jeter. Better athlete.

Mike R.
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Mike R.
5 years 3 months ago

You can pro-rate stats all you want, but penalizing Jeter for establishing himself as a star in the majors much earlier than Young is foolish.

Mike R.
Guest
Mike R.
5 years 3 months ago

WAR by Age (Jeter vs. Young):

21: 2.6 to Minors
22: 4.3 to Minors
23: 6.5 to Minors
24: 7.5 to 0.0
25: 3.8 to 1.1
26: 4.3 to 2.5
27: 5.4 to 2.5
28: 4.0 to 4.2
29: 5.0 to 3.9
30: 4.5 to 2.4
31: 6.2 to 2.4
32: 3.5 to 3.9
33: 3.7 to 2.7
34: 7.1 to N/A
35: 2.5 to N/A

*I didn’t bother with WAR/150 because both players didn’t miss much time to injury. Keep in mind that at age 28 Jeter is easily the victory barring the dislocated shoulder.

So what have we learned here? During an interval in which Michael Young was OPSing in the low .800s in A ball, Jeter was the best player in the entire American League (1998-1999). Not only did he provide significant value at a younger age than Young, his age 34 season at which Young is already cooked absolutely obliterates Young at his peak (and it’s not like that was Jeter’s best year either).

Teammates? As if that argument was faulty enough, throughout Young’s career he has been helped by one of the game’s best offenses in the best hitter’s park in the American League.

Next you can check out Home-Away splits where hillarity will ensue. Jeter’s road OPS is 16 points higher than Young’s total OPS WITH inflated Arlington numbers.

Lastly, Jeter is at a disadvantage with UZR data. Whereas UZR has been compiled since 2002 when Young was 25 years old and at his physical peak, the majority of UZR compiled for Jeter was 28 and upward. Of course, it’s probably negligible because we all know he is a terrible fielder.

Peak: Jeter>>>>>>Young

Longevity: Jeter >>>>>Young

I wonder who’s better…

Mike R.
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Mike R.
5 years 3 months ago

Not in response to you, my friend.

But thanks for giving me a chance to clarify

Jeter vs. Yount is a much more interesting comparison.

BKP
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BKP
5 years 3 months ago

I love me some fangraphs and Eno Sarris but this is the most off the mark article I have ever read on this site. You completely miss the point of Winfield’s statement. If you must analyze it from a statistical perspective then you should have looked at the following: longevity, ranking on respective franchise leader boards (ex. hits, all star game appearances, WAR), and even popularity (jerseys sold compared to teammates).

You needed to compare the two with respect to their own franchise first. If you had, you would have discovered that Winfield more accurate than not.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 3 months ago

I think Winfield missed the point that Young is not the Rangers’ franchise shortstop.

That, in itself, seemingly ends the comparison.

I don;t think that Winfield realizes that Young is no longer the “staple” or face of the franchise the way Jeter is to the Yankees.

I think most people get what Dave is saying, they’re/we’re just saying “No, Dave … Young is not to the Rangers what Jeter is to the Yankees.” Then, people are providing evidence as to why they feel that way.

Had Winfield made this comment in 2008, it would probably be much more accurate.

waynetolleson
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waynetolleson
5 years 3 months ago

“I think Winfield missed the point that Young is not the Rangers’ franchise shortstop.”

I didn’t hear exactly what Winfield said, so I don’t know the exact context of his remarks. I don’t believe that when Winfield made the comparison that he meant that Michael Young was Derek Jeter’s (statistical) equal. Rather, I believe that he simply meant that the players, both middle infielders, have been important parts of their teams and communities for a decade strong.

No, Michael Young and Jeter are not bookends. Jeter has played for the Yankees for seventeen years now. He was the Yankees first-round draft pick in 1992 – the sixth pick overall – making this Jeter’s twentieth year with the Yankees organization.

Michael Young was drafted by the Blue Jays in 1997, and arrived in the Texas organization via a 2000 trade between the Blue Jays and Rangers with the Jays getting Esteban Loaiza, and the Rangers getting Michael Young (and another player who never really made it in the majors).

Jeter has been with the Yankees nearly twice as long as Young has been with the Rangers.

All in all, it’s not an exact comparison. There are some strong similarities between the players, especially at certain points of their careers. Jeter, however, was a better player, and sustained his level of excellence for a longer period of time.

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