One of my favorite sports debates in terms of this player vs. that player is the one that centers around two of the best shortstops in baseball history. Who would you rather have in their prime: Cal Ripken, Jr. or Derek Jeter?
Some casual baseball fans may say it's obviously Jeter. He has five World Series titles compared to Ripken's one, and has been the face of the Yankees for an entire generation.
When you take a look at the numbers, however, it's not that easy. Ripken had significantly better power numbers, while Jeter hit for a much better average and was a bigger threat with his legs once on base.
Ripken addressed the comparison on Wednesday in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show, and his comments were rather interesting. Ripken would rather have Jeter's career simply because of the teams he played on:
"I'd rather have Derek's, and for this reason: a bad year for Derek is losing in the first round of the playoffs," Ripken said. "I was totally jealous of the fact he had a chance to perform and play in the playoffs as everybody's wish and dream is. I had a few chances, which was great, but I wanted a whole lot more than that."
Jeter as a career .598 winning percentage in games he has played with the Yankees. Ripken retired with a winning percentage of .501. Jeter's supporting cast was often much better, however. The worst team Jeter ever played on won .525 percent of their games while Ripken played on two Orioles teams that finished under the .400 mark.
Jeter has never experience playing on a bad major league team, and Ripken would love to know what that feels like.
"I personally think it's much easier to play on a winner because is on that day at the game, each at-bat and what you are trying to do to help your team win. Playing for a losing team is a miserable effort and you have to rearrange your goals and keep yourself pure each and every day on the field because the season takes forever."
While we're on the subject, here is a look at the career numbers and accolades for both Ripken and Jeter:
3001 G, .276 BA, .340 OBP, .788 OPS, 1647 R, 3184 H, 603 2B, 44 3B, 431 HR, 1695 RBI, 36 SB, 1129 BB, 1305 SO, 92.5 WAR
1 World Series, 2 MVPs (1983, 1991), 19 All-Star Games, Rookie of the Year (1982), 8 Silver Sluggers, 2 Gold Gloves
2603 G, .312 BA, .381 OBP, .828 OPS, 1877 R, 3317 H, 525 2B, 65 3B, 256 HR, 1261 RBI, 348 SB, 1047 BB, 1754 SO, 73.8 WAR
5 World Series, 13 All-Star Games, Rookie of the Year (1996), 5 Silver Sluggers, 5 Gold Gloves
Those are the numbers, so who is better? Ripken was asked that question, of course, and wasn't exactly committal.
"Everyone has an opinion, everyone has a thought and sometimes people's opinions mean a little more to you than others. But we are two different types of players in many ways," Ripken said. "There's advantages that Derek has, and there are advantages that I have. We'll leave it that."
And the debate continues.