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Friday, October 31, 2014

Derek Jeter taking the Mariano Rivera, Chipper Jones retirement approach

Derek JeterDerek Jeter announced on Wednesday that he will retire after the 2014 MLB season, which will be his 20th in the bigs. Jeter is following the likes of Chipper Jones and Mariano Rivera, who both announced their retirement plans before their final season. I like the approach from Jeter; he is one of the best players of the past 20 years, a beloved player, ambassador of the game, and the early announcement will allow him to take the sort of victory lap for which he is deserving. He also isn’t waiting too late in his career to retire, meaning he won’t embarrass himself on the field the way some other legends have.

Jeter announced his plans with a written letter posted to his Facebook page. He said he always knew it would be time to retire when baseball stated to become like a job. He also said he realized months ago that this would probably be his last season.

The announcement by Jeter is convenient for the Yankees. He can still be a good hitter this season, and by walking away after the year, it allows the team to avoid complicated situations with contract negotiations and switching defensive positions.

Jeter made it clear that he is ready to move on to the next phase of his life. He says he has spent the last several years focusing solely on two things: playing his best and helping the Yankees win. That leaves me wondering where this fits in – relaxation therapy?

Even though I’m playing around about Jeter’s dating life, it’s easy to understand where he’s coming from. He avoided off-field drama like few other players, and that’s especially impressive for someone playing in New York. He has been a perfect professional — someone who understood his responsibilities to his team, the sport, his fans and his family. He never embarrassed anyone. But that takes a lot of work and effort and allows for very little else. That’s why this line from Jeter’s letter stands out to me.

“I want to finally stop the chase and take in the world.”

You’ve worked really hard for years, Jeter, it is time for you to enjoy the world without worrying about playing.

We’ll have plenty of time to break down Jeter’s career — which isn’t over yet — but I would like to share a few things about him. I have always really liked Jeter as a player, but it’s the media’s love affair with him that has been a turnoff. I have a feeling many Jeter haters probably feel the same way and get mad at him instead of the media. Also, the guy has been one of the better hitters in the game for his entire career. Whether it’s been the regular season or the playoffs, facing No. 5 starters or aces, and whether he’s 27 or 37 years old, Jeter has always been able to hit. He’s just naturally one of the best hitting middle infielders in history.

Jeter is a lifetime .312 hitter. A lot of sabremetrics people like to say that batting average doesn’t matter — and I don’t think it’s the best offensive statistic — but batting average is important and has always confirmed that Derek Jeter can flat out hit. His defense has been overrated, but Jeter has consistently been one of the best offensive shortstops in the game for two decades. It’s hard to top that.

Below is a look at the letter he posted to Facebook:

Derek Jeter retirement letter



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