By Kevin Kernan
August 14, 2017
Derek Jeter and George Steinbrenner
Derek Jeter is going to rock baseball’s world as boss of the Marlins.
Jeter believes in scouting, talent, heart and soul, and he will look to fill the Marlins roster with the same kind of winning player he was during his 20-year championship career with the Yankees. In doing so he will slow down the rush to analytics that is now being portrayed the answer to all of baseball’s questions.
Consider this comment Jeter made to me at his locker several years before he retired.
“Everything is about numbers today, this game is more than numbers, buddy,’’ Jeter said. He went on to point out the value of scouting, the value of allowing a player to think for himself and not becoming a numbers robot.
Play the game, not the numbers.
Jeter will use analytics to some degree, but he is not going to be ruled by analytics.
Remember this, too: Jeter always played with chip on his shoulder, and he will bring that chip, that desire to prove people wrong and his incredible work ethic to the Marlins as head of baseball operations and part-owner after Jeter’s group agreed to purchase the franchise for $1.2 billion Friday.
The Captain will want to do it his way and prove people wrong. He started The Players’ Tribune because he wanted players to have a voice in the media, a new platform without having to rely on traditional media.
In his heart, Jeter wants to run a baseball team that crushes what he views to be over-the-top analytic-based teams.
As simple as it sounds, he wants to bring the game back to the players.
“I think if there is anybody that is equipped to run a team, I think it’s him,’’ CC Sabathia told The Post on Saturday of the future Hall of Famer. “Derek or Alex [Rodriguez]. Jetes is really good at reading through bulls–t in life. Getting the best out of people, getting the best out of players. I don’t know how all that will translate as an owner, but he is really good at that.
“He’s really good at knowing who to have around.’’
Sabathia then cut to the heart of the matter.
“It will interesting to see how he runs it with the sabermetrics,’’ Sabathia said.
Perhaps it will translate this way: Perhaps pitch counts will grow. Perhaps, if a pitcher is throwing a shutout after six innings, maybe the pitcher will go an extra inning. Perhaps it just won’t be a bullpen-by-numbers situation. If a reliever is doing well, maybe he will get an extra out, an extra inning.
Perhaps his team will not shift as much. The 14-time All-Star shortstop was never a big fan of the shift on his way to five World Series rings.
Perhaps everything will not be geared to hitting the home run. There will be room for a batter who inside-outs a pitch the way Jeter was known for as a hitter and his 3,465 hits.
Fundamentals will become vital again, cutoffs, too, and making sure to follow the ball like his famous flip play.
If Jeter is able to do this, the pendulum that has swung in the direction of analytics over this generation will swing a bit back toward scouting, teamwork and finding players who find a way to get the job done.
Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier stood alongside Jeter as a 12-year-old Little League star. As a major leaguer he has watched Jeter grow from star to owner. He knows how Jeter battled on the field and that will be key to his running the Marlins.
“Competition-wise, he played the game,’’ Frazier told The Post. “He understands players. He understands the grind. He might give guys a little more leeway just because he understands what people are going through. At the end of the day I am so happy for him. Just another accolade for him. It’s crazy, he goes from baseball player to owner.
“What’s next for him? Maybe being the President of the United States, we’ll see what happens.”
Derek Jeter is going to do baseball his way, and it is going to be fascinating to watch.