Just to get this out of the way up front: I don’t believe Derek Jeter is the MVP of the American League. I don’t think he should be considered among the legitimate front-runners, I think there are other leadoff hitters who should be ahead of him in the race, and he might not even be the MVP of his own team.
But, if I had an MVP vote this year, I’m sure I’d have Jeter somewhere on my ballot.
“Come on, man, I’m not thinking about that,” Jeter said. “We’re trying to win a game.”
Whether he thinks about it or not, Jeter is having a terrific season, and Phil Rogers’ column in Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune sparked some discussion about just how good his year has been. Maybe it’s not an MVP season, but it’s been a very good one. Here’s Jeter talking about it.
How do you evaluate your season?
It’s not over. I mean, you know me. We’re trying to win games, we’ve lost these first two here. That’s the only thing I’m thinking about, trying to win today. Those other things, I don’t let them enter my mind. … You try to improve each and every day, each and every year, but we have a long way to go. Our season is not over.
Did you take a similar approach to 2010?
I hit .270, man, you know? Sorry. One time I hit .270 and it’s like it was the end of my career. You’re going to struggle. You’re going to have good years, you’re going to have bad years, but you always have to have confidence that you can play. I think every player probably at some point in their careers had a year where they weren’t satisfied. I had a lot more than just one that I haven’t been satisfied with. I know that year has gotten a lot of attention, but you still have to have confidence that you can play.
Do you understand people being impressed by these numbers from a 38-year-old?
I try not to think about age either. A lot of times it’s mentality. I think you can sit around and keep telling yourself you’re getting old, you’re getting old, and I think you start to feel that way. I understand in sports as you get a little older people talk about your age but it’s another thing I don’t go out there and think to myself ‘I’m 30-something years old.’ I just think about trying to perform. I think that goes with the mental part of the game as well.
Does the grind of a season get harder with age?
Yeah, you’ve got to get here a little earlier, stay a little longer. I’m sure that applies to most people that are standing here right now. You’ve got to do things a little bit differently. But I think that’s normal. I think that’s for everyone. My fifth year wasn’t like my first year, just like this year isn’t like five years ago. I think you make adjustments throughout the years.
Ever think about winning an MVP award?
I thought about it when seasons were over because you get close. Everyone would like to win an award like that. You ask any player in baseball, they would like to win an award like that. But I don’t think you can allow yourself to think that.
What would make this season satisfying?
Winning the World Series. I mean, that’s it. I tell you that all the time. I’m being honest with you when I say it. That’s what we play for, to win a championship. We try to do that each and every year, so that’s what’s satisfying.
Associated Press photo