It is easy to be cynical, or at skeptical at the very least. Those of us with our collective ears to the ground get up in arms really quickly when we see Derek Jeter lauded as a First Ballot Hall of Famer while the merits of Jim Thome’s potential candidacy are openly debated. The reactionary in many of us screams “BIAS!” and “OVERRATED!” while we rush to protect the legacy of Legendary Nice Guy and all-world slugger Jim Thome.
Ol’JimJam doesn’t need our help or protection. Jimmer’s legacy is secure. Just as Derek Jeter’s teflon coating and handful of rings keeps him immune to the toxicity of haters, he remains a productive and durable star for the better part of two decades.
Both these men achieved round number greatness this season, ticking off major milestones which place them in rather elite company. As previously stated, one is a slam dunk HOF’er while the other will likely bounce around the ballots for at least a few years. How close are their careers, really? Is Thome just a one-trick pony, lagging behind the Captain? To the WAR graphs!
To excellent players with prolonged track records. We could run down the comparative achievements here but these two guys have well-established track records. Jeter is ahead but, somewhat surprisingly, not by too much. Thome hasn’t played the field regularly since 2007 and his production reflects that. He’s just a guy who smacks taters and draws walks against right-handed hitting, like very few before him ever had.
More importantly: there is room in our lives for both Jeter and Thome and everyone in between. I’m as guilty as anyone of being quick to point out the flaws in Jeter’s game and whine about the hypocrisy in the relative amounts of coverage. We can celebrate both their accomplishments and rest confident that two greats of their era will get their due when the time comes.