Jeter is underrated and overrated

Loved and hated by many, Derek Jeter is still one of the best shortstops of all time. William Perlman/US Presswire

A version of this story appears in the June 27, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

As Derek Jeter approaches 3,000 career hits, he occupies a unique position in sports: He's overrated by fans yet underrated by statistical analysts. And with him now on the DL just a few hits shy of his big milestone, we can take a step back and properly evaluate his career.

Let's start with some kvetching. Anyone who is not a Yankee fan can grow annoyed with Jeter's relentless parade of endorsements, the quantity and quality of the supermodels he's dated or his princely status in New York, where radio voice John Sterling calls him El Capitan. But there are two claims about Jeter's on-field play that really grind sabermetricians' gears.