The #1 choice in our rankings of Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame moments comes from the 2001 ALDS when “El Capitan” made one of the clutchest defensive plays in the history of postseason baseball.
What became known as “The Flip” perfectly embodies Jeter’s ability to be in the right place at the right time. Regardless of what the naysayers will argue, Derek’s defensive abilities always revolved around making the big play. From jumping in the third base hole to make a strong throw over to first in time for the putout to “The Dive,” and our favorite, “The Flip,” Derek Jeter always seemed to get the job done.
The integration of analytics into baseball made it easier for critics to poke holes in Derek’s game; however, you don’t win 5 Gold Gloves for being a defensive liability. Regardless of what has been said about Jeter’s defense later in his career, it’s indisputable that his play in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS was iconic, not to mention game-saving. In the bottom of the 7th, with two outs and Jeremy Giambi on first base Terrence Long roped a double down the first baseline and into the corner. As Shane Spencer scooped the ball from the outfield corner and came up to throw, Giambi barrelled around the bases and was waved home.
Enter: Derek Jeter. While Shane Spencer’s throw surely was strong, it soared over both cutoff men and Captain Clutch raced from his position at shortstop to foul territory up the first baseline to cut the throw off on one bounce and flip the ball to Jorge Posada, who applied the tag in time and ended the inning.
The play preserved the Yankees 1-0 lead on their way to a Game 3 ALDS victory, their first of a five game series they would go on to win. There was absolutely no chance anyone could have predicted the way “The Flip” played out yet Jeter knew exactly where the team needed him to be. Always in the right place at the right time.