Excellent question, one I was hoping you would ask.
A shortstop gets a position adjustment of 7.5 runs.
A LF gets a position adjustment of -7.5 runs.
A 1B gets a position adjustment of -12.5 runs.
A DH gets a position adjustment of -17.5 runs.
By playing Jeter at LF he loses 15 runs of value just based on his position alone. So if he was worth 7.5 WAR as a SS, he's now worth 6 WAR in LF. Even if he is a neutral defender, which is pretty fair given he has no experience at the position, he is at best worth 7 WAR. So to be worth more than he was at short he essentially needs to be a GG LF. And that's to break even with what he was as a SS.
Keep in mind that's ONLY if Jeter is -10 on defence. If Jeter is something like -5, then there isn't a chance he's more valuable as a LF even if he plays defensively like Carl Crawford did.
By playing Jeter at 1B he loses 20 runs based on positional adjustments and goes from 7.5 WAR to 5.5 WAR. So once again, if he was -10 UZR at SS and you make him a neutral defender at first, he's now only worth 6.5 WAR. He'd have to be a GG calibre 1B to break even with the value he was at SS, and that's assuming Jeter was a -10 UZR SS. Once again, if he's even slightly better than that, then there is no way he'd be better at first than at SS.
By playing Jeter at DH he now loses 25 runs of value. So again, a 7.5 WAR SS becomes a 5 WAR DH. Even if you add back 10 runs for defence, you're looking at Jeter as being a 6 WAR DH vs a 7.5 WAR SS.
Clearly, Jeter is at his best as a SS. But that's only looking at Jeter's value to a team. What about the other players?
Left fielders generally hit better than SS's. Don't even need WAR or anything to show this. So by putting Jeter at SS, you give yourself the best two hitters on your team. If you put Jeter at left field, you're pushing a superior hitter out of your lineup, and an inferior option at SS. Think of Matt Holliday as an example. If you have Jeter here, you lose both the glove of Matt Holliday and his superior bat. So you've downgraded on offence and defence in left, and now you've downgraded offence at SS but still not gaining enough defensively to make it worthwhile.
Same deal with DH - think of your David Ortiz here. He can't play any other position. By playing Jeter here, you now have pushed a quality hitter to the bench (as the DH can't play in the field), AND put an inferior option to Jeter at SS.
The bottom line is, despite Jeter's lack of defensive value at SS, his value remains HIGHEST at SS. That's even when you factor in the poor defence. By having Jeter play at a premium position where that kind of offence generally doesn't exist, you allow your team to have the best player at SS, the best player at LF, and the best hitter at DH. Having Jeter at any position other than SS means you're using your second best SS at short, and pushes a key bat, either your LF, 1B or your DH, to the bench. And if the LF/1B is a quality defender you lose those runs saved, and if your DH is a superior hitter to Jeter (which he should be), you lose those runs on offence too. And while your other SS will save more runs on D, he still won't make up for Jeter's overall value because there isn't a chance in hell he comes close to providing as many runs with the bat as Jeter will.
Since 1990 the only player to provide more value as a SS was A-Rod, and nobody else even comes close. Moving Jeter off SS is the single worst possible move anybody could make on a baseball team, because outside of A-Rod, nobody has been better than Jeter at SS.
The only thing you didn't account for was the average uptick defensively SS get when they change positions. Since SS is the most difficult to play a below average shortstop will be an above average defender in every other position. So instead of a 15 run difference going from SS to LF, after accounting for the expected increase in defence, It will be closer to 13.5 runs, and that extra 0.15 increase to WAR is huge!! (sarcasm) Great post Twitchy
Okay, so lets say a 25 year old Jeter is dealt to your team. You can put him at any position you want. Where do you put him?
Doesn't work that way. You also have to take into account what players are on the team already as well as what position he has played up to that point.
But even living in your fantasy land for a second I still put him at SS because of his bat.
SS is considered a defensive position only because it is rare to find someone who can field and hit from that spot. So if you can't have a decent bat their you put an amazing defender so they have value.
But if you find a slightly below average fielding SS with a ++ bat you slot him in there, grow the grass long in the infield and watch him make up for his defence with the bat.
Edit: Twitchy explains my point very nicely using stats. I only used logic which in these forums is apparently a terrible way to try and explain yourself. As Monkefied stated, great post Twitchy.
Last edited by albertajaysfan; 01-07-2013 at 02:22 PM.