With Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira winning gold gloves, as well as Jeter winning the Roberto Clemente Award and Hank Aaron Award for being the best hitter in the American League, the recognition of the brilliance of the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees has rightfully continued (Yahoo Sports). This team was a truly masterful collection of great defense, even better hitting, and very good pitching. But, the Yankee defense has been largely overlooked throughout the course of the season despite being one of the best in the league. These awards have acknowledged that defense remains very important in the run to a championship.
The Yankees do not have a flashy defense but rely more on sound defensive play with the occasional top ten plays candidate. Jeter, who has been constantly assaulted for his poor defense in recent years, made a career-low 8 errors and had an astounding .986 fielding percentage. Even with a great first basemen it is clear that Jeter remains a top fielder as there is no way that Teixeira’s play was the sole cause for Jeter’s great defense during the 2009 season. Many people have accused Jeter of being one of the worst defensive shortstops in the league based on new statistical analysis. It speaks volumes, however, about his defense that he won an award that was voted on by the opposing teams who would not give him the award simply because he was Derek Jeter.
Teixeira’s defense during the postseason saved him from a great deal of attacks on his fortitude and ability to perform under pressure. Anyone who watched any Yankee game this year probably saw at least one play that Teixeira made that saved an error, a run, or stopped a base runner from advancing. He was a much needed improvement over past first basemen whose defensive skills were desperately lacking. He made the entire infield better by taking pressure off of Robinson Cano, Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez and just allowed them to concentrate on making the play rather than worry about throwing a strike to first.
Defense in many other sports is often the key to winning a championship. In baseball pitching is essentially the primary defense that any team has. For the Yankees their pitching and hitting led them to the World Series title but the defense certainly helped them get there so it is great to see the defense be rewarded with the Gold Glove Awards for Jeter and Teixeira.
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