Number of exciting AL shortstops deserve votes
Hall-worthy career aside, Jeter isn't the most viable All-Star candidate at the position
You have so many options. So many intriguing choices. So many thought processes that could get you to so many different end results, and nearly all of them make sense.
And then you have a guy who won't have swung a bat in anger by the time the All-Star Game rolls around. Derek Jeter is headed for the Hall of Fame. He's a 13-time All-Star who probably has one or two more trips to the Midsummer Classic left before he's done.
But the Yankees captain is not an All-Star this year. There's no law saying you can't vote for him, especially because he's on the ballot. But it would be a waste in a year when there are not one or two but several better candidates.
Jeter is the biggest star among American League shortstops, there's no denying that. He's the most popular, and for some folks, that's reason enough to vote for him. By any other measure, though, he's simply not the choice.
If you vote for the guy having the best year at the plate, then your call is Oakland's Jed Lowrie. The former Astro and Red Sox is hitting for average and power on a contending team, shoring up what was an area of real worry for the defending AL West champs.
Shortstop, though, is a two-way position. And the best all-around player so far in 2013 has been Kansas City's Alcides Escobar. One of the prizes of the Zack Greinke trade, Escobar is having a nice offensive year while playing some very slick defense.
The reigning best overall shortstop in the league is Texas' Elvis Andrus, who is off to a slow start at the plate but still a plus defender -- and you know he'll hit. There's a school of thought that an All-Star vote shouldn't be based on just a couple of months, but instead on a bigger picture of who's the best player in a longer view. That would be Andrus, who was the AL's best all-around shortstop a year ago and has started to come on at the plate recently.
The options don't stop there. The Tigers' Jhonny Peralta is having a strong hitting year for a contender. Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox, like Escobar, is a plus defender who's hitting enough to be worth noticing. That's five names, all deserving, none ridiculous. All of whom are contributing more than Jeter and are more able to play at Citi Field than Jeter.
And this, really, is the key. It's not about Jeter. It's about the other guys.
There's nothing inherently wrong with a sentimental vote for a guy who, when he's finally done appearing in All-Star Games, will be sorely missed. It's not silly to vote for Jeter. It's just a bit of a waste with so many viable alternate choices.
There are so many ways to show an opinion, so many legitimate options, that to vote for the guy who hasn't even taken an at-bat feels a bit like voting for a third-party candidate in a presidential election. It may be an admirable show of principle, but it ignores that one of the other guys is going to get the honor.
If Jeter were retiring, this all might be a different equation. His teammate Mariano Rivera, who will be hanging it up at the end of 2013, simply must be in Queens in mid-July. But it's very hard to imagine that this is the last we'll see of Jeter.
Nothing about his ankle injury suggests that he won't be able to play either later in 2013 or in 2014. He has a player option for 2014, and again, it's difficult to envision him declining that. So we're not at a point where we need to be giving Jeter a send-off.
It's not Jeter's last chance. He's not the best option. He's had plenty of days, and he'll have more, but this July 16, the honor should belong to someone else. The fact that it's unclear who that someone should be only strengthens the case.
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.