Red Sox legend Manny Ramirez took a shot at Derek Jeter saying he would have been “just a regular player” if he hadn’t played for the Yankees.
While appearing on the TV broadcast for the game, Ramirez started talking about the difference between playing for big- and small-market teams.
That’s when he brought up Jeter and what his legacy would have been if he hadn’t played in New York.
“You gotta understand this. If you haven’t played in Boston or New York, you’re not in the big leagues,” Ramirez said on NESN. “It’s like if you put Jeter in Kansas City in those years, he was just a regular player.”
Was Manny Ramirez right about Derek Jeter and the Yankees?
The surface-level interpretation of that statement is that Jeter’s value was overinflated because he wore pinstripes. While the Yankee brand may have certainly impacted the player’s perception, he also is sixth in MLB history with 3,465 hits. He was always going to be talked about as one of the all-time greats.
A closer look at Ramirez’s full comments reveals he was talking more about the impact of playing in a big market on the heights a player can take themselves.
“It makes you better [playing in a big market]” Ramirez said. “Because you’ve got to be ready. Because they will let you know. They will let you know when you’re not right. To be honest with you, when I was with Cleveland, I was playing and I was a good player. But when I came to Boston. I got better because the fans, they will let you know that you wasn’t playing right. They push you.”
Essentially, Ramirez was saying Jeter put up Hall of Fame numbers and performances because he had to elevate his game to survive in New York. The way Ramirez sees it, if Jeter had played in Kansas City for 20 years he might not have pushed himself to become a 3,000-hit player.
That kind of claim is pretty much impossible to prove. Tony Gwynn played his entire career in the small market of San Diego. Ichiro Suzuki had most of his production in Seattle. Pete Rose set the MLB career mark for hits in Cincinnati.
Chances are, Jeter would have reached 3,000 hits as a member of the Royals. He just wouldn’t have won five World Series titles there.