Is Jeter still elite?

Our experts discuss Part 7 of ESPN's top 500 player rankings for 2012

Updated: March 28, 2012, 2:54 PM ET
ESPN.com

Derek JeterKim Klement/US PresswireJeter hit .327 after the 2011 All-Star break, suggesting he still has something left in the tank.

With its unveiling of the top 500 players in baseball, ESPN.com is launching Triple Play, a weekday feature that will run throughout the season and include three ESPN contributors answering three topical questions. For now, the feature will focus on the top 500 rankings, but Triple Play's concentration will shift to the daily MLB buzz once the season begins.

Today we'll look at Part 7 of our ESPN 500 series, which focuses on players who rank from 151 to 200. Feel free to chime in on Twitter with the hashtag #ESPN500.


1. Derek Jeter (No. 115): Too high, too low or just right?


Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes), ESPN Boston
About right. Forget that Jeter turns 38 in June, he made time stand still when he homered and went 5-for-5 on the day he reached 3,000 hits last summer, and has yet to stop hitting since. One day he'll stop being Jeter, but they've been saying the same about Mariano Rivera, and we're still waiting.

David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield), ESPN SweetSpot
It's OK to give Jeter some extra credit for intangibles and leadership. But not this much. His FanGraphs wins over replacement over the past two seasons adds up 5.0, which is what he used to be worth in one season. His Baseball Reference WAR is even lower. There are worse shortstops to have, but he's no longer a top-150 player.

Rob Abruzzese (@RobAbruzzese), Bronx Baseball Daily
Right where he belongs. This group seems to be filled with a lot of guys ready to break out or guys ready to break down. Jeter finished hot last season, which suggests he might have a little more left in the tank, but he'll soon be 38 and it's only a matter of time before he really starts slipping.


2. You must pick one person here to win a 2012 MVP. Who is it?


Edes: Adam Jones (No. 133). Add an ''e" to his middle name (La Marque), and that's what you have in Jones, who is poised to become the marquee player his talent has long promised. The Orioles are moving Jones to the cleanup spot this season, anticipating that this is the year he finally breaks out, and if he learns to take the occasional walk, he'll stake his claim among the game's elite players.

Schoenfield: Shin-Soo Choo (No. 122) was one of baseball's best all-around players in 2009-10, not that anybody noticed. He hits for average, gets on base, has some power, steals bases and plays a good right field. If the Indians surprise the Tigers in the AL Central, it means Choo has a big year and enters the MVP discussion.

Abruzzese: Andre Ethier (No. 107). He's still in his prime, just two years removed from a sixth-place finish in the MVP race and only a year away from free agency. He is primed for a big year as Magic Johnson's ownership group takes over the Dodgers. Ethier leading his team back toward respectability would go a long way toward picking up MVP votes.


3. True or false: Carl Crawford (No. 112) will be in the top 50 next year?


Edes: False. Crawford spent the entire spring rehabbing his surgically repaired wrist, so it has yet to be seen whether he can be the player he was in a Tampa Bay uniform. So far, what he has been in a Red Sox uniform has been a disaster: His .289 OBP in 2011 was lowest ever by a Sox left fielder with at least 300 at-bats.

Schoenfield: False. Even if he manages to return at full strength from his wrist surgery, there's the matter that 2010 was probably his career season. While he was an outstanding player that year and finished seventh in the MVP vote, he's received MVP votes only one other season (26th in 2006). That's not the résumé of a top-50 player.

Abruzzese: False. He isn't off to a very good start being that he'll be on the DL to start the season. If that wrist injury lingers, it'll sap some of the pop from his bat that distinguished him from other speedy outfielders.