Derek Jeter has his priorities in place and reiterates that in response to David Ortiz's random slap at Jeter yesterday. Ortiz claimed the RedSawx freefall should not be held against him in MVP voting (yeah, right).
Said Fat Papi: Come hit in this lineup, see how good you can be.
Said Jeter: I don't have to do it in his lineup . . . I'm not thinking about the MVP right now; we're thinking about winning a division. We've still got something to play for.
Smack! Score one for DJ.
And as for Fat Papi's comment, here's Jeter's numbers when the Yanks were 9th in the league in runs: 10 HR, 78 RBI, .314/.370/.430 (Avg., OBP, SLG), 104 runs. That was his rookie season in 1996.
Here's Jeter when the Yanks were 6th in runs in 2000: 15 HR, 73 RBI .339/.416/.481, 119 runs scored.
Here's Jeter when the Yanks were second in runs in 2004: 23 HR, 78 RBI, .292/.352/.471, 111 runs scored.
Here's Jeter on the lowest-scoring Yankees team of his career: 21 HR, 74 RBI, .311/.377/.480, 110 runs scored.
Doesn't look like he's dependent on the lineup's effectiveness to produce, does it? Compare that to Fat Papi's transformation from middling to superstar when he moved to Bahston, got placed in front of Fat Manny, the best righty slugger since DiMaggio, in the lineup and could play "wall ball" with outside pitches by swatting those offerings off the Green Mawnsta.
Now consider that to date Jeter has 13 HR, 91 RBI, .346/.419/.492 with 99 runs on a team that has lacked its two corner outfielders for almost the whole season -- players who combined for 57 HR and 239 RBI last year. And consider that the Yanks are the highest-scoring team in baseball . . . even without those two aforementioned corner outfielders and with A-Rod's production off from last season's MVP (48 HR, 129 RBI) numbers.
Jeter's production, therefore, is as much a product of the team as asbestos is a product of sugar cane farming -- it isn't. Instead, there's a simple fact that the various Jeter-bashers and big-number players want to downplay: the proper phrase is not "Derek Jeter is a great player but [insert qualifier here]." The accurate phrase is "Derek Jeter is a great player."