Both were teammates and friends for a long time, but were very different ballplayers.
Who had the highest impact?
Who was better?
Let’s find out.
The Case For Jeter
There may not be a more respected and venerated player in the history of the game than Jeter.
The former Yankees star wasn’t a unanimous choice for the Hall of Fame for just one vote: that’s perhaps the perfect example of his place in the history of baseball.
He was a slightly better pure hitter than A-Rod, and has the edge in batting average (.310 to .295).
Of course, Rodriguez was much more productive as a hitter, but Jeter was a star on his own right and won lots of accolades.
His accomplishments include 14 All-Star Games (1998–2002, 2004, 2006–2012, 2014), five World Series championships (1996, 1998–2000, 2009), a World Series MVP (2000), the American League Rookie of the Year award (1996), five Gold Gloves, and five Silver Slugger awards.
With time, we came to realize, through advanced stats, that Jeter wasn’t a good fielder, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a heck of a ballplayer.
He was also the captain of the Yankees until 2014, the last one in the franchise.
He was a born leader, and he didn’t need to speak much to do it: he led by example, and what a job he did.
He had an aura of greatness that few other players have matched; not even Rodriguez.
And he was a star in the playoffs, holding several records for October play: games, hits, runs, doubles, and total bases, to name a few.
He was Mr. November.
19 years ago, Derek Jeter became Mr. November. pic.twitter.com/D34im8FMSu
— MLB (@MLB) November 1, 2020
The Case For Rodriguez
He was that good.
His career numbers were much, much better than Jeter’s: .295/.380/.550, 696 home runs, 2,021 runs scored, 2,086 RBI, and 329 stolen bases.
Those are Hall of Fame-caliber numbers, but his involvement with steroids means it’s not a lock he gets in.
On the field, however, Rodriguez was a more productive hitter and a better fielder than Jeter, with whom he shared the spotlight on the Yankees with from 2004 to 2013.
A-Rod was a three-time MVP award winner, whereas Jeter didn’t win it (but he should have won in 2006).
Rodriguez also won two Gold Gloves and led the AL in batting average, home runs, and RBI multiple times.
Unlike Jeter, he wasn’t a “money player” in crunch time, but he was a monster in the 2009 postseason that resulted in the Yankees’ 27th World Series championship.
Jeter had the intangibles and A-Rod had the regular season numbers.
However, Jeter was much more productive in the playoffs than A-Rod, who consistently floundered in defining instances.
Both were marvelous players and legends of the game.
However, if we are talking about who was the better ballplayer, Rodriguez should get the nod.
He was an offensive machine back in the day, and had a 10-win season by Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2003.
Jeter maxed out at 7.4 in 1999.
It’s 2021 and there are still people out there that believe Derek Jeter was better than Alex Rodriguez pic.twitter.com/hLlDpGRbTH
— Aaron (@Dope_RedBeard) March 9, 2021
Jeter was more popular, built himself a legendary career including the playoffs, and had a larger impact on the game, but Rodriguez was better.