Here’s a tip for all New York Yankees fans, grab a cozy chair, a beer, some nuts and shut up and enjoy Derek Jeter‘s most recent season of resurgence.
Enough complaining about his lack of power and decreasing range. Stop it with the whining that he’s lost a step. Cut it out with the notion that since he’s 38 he can’t possibly keep it up and that he’s one step away from retiring. Please, give it all a rest.
If Jeter has shown one thing over the last few seasons, it is that he can and will do everything within his abilities to produce for the Yankees. This season he has done so by rising up all-time lists and it’s not like when others have climbed the ranks in the past. He’s not piecing together a hit here and another there to inch his way past Hall of Famers. He’s passing them with 4-for-5 days including extra-base hits and yes, homers.
He’s having a great season with the bat and it is upsetting when Yankees fans bash his performance with talk of what used to be and how this can’t last. When will our own fans stop doubting The Captain?
Jeter’s got no power? OK, he doesn’t possess raw power, never did, but he has 11 homers, 10 out of the leadoff spot. How many more does he need to hit? He’s added 27 doubles this season. His .447 SLG% is the highest since 2009 when he slugged .465. His OPS is .809 (.831 career). He’s never been Ruthian, but anything over an .800 OPS for Jeter should be considered a positive occurrence.
His fielding numbers have received plenty of attention over the last several seasons. I’m a believer in using these metrics and yes they more or less represent what we see with our eyes where it concerns Jeter these days. He has diminished range to be nice, but he doesn’t exactly kill the Yankees defensively. What’s more, he’s never been a particularly great fielder based on UZR; ever. He has three seasons since he came up in 1995 where he had a positive measure. As of last night’s game his UZR/150 was -18.9 which would be the worst of his career. But, taken in the context that it has never been great, what’s all the moaning about? Is there a better option for the Yankees anywhere in their system? No, there isn’t. So get over it. Eventually the Yankees will move Jeter or he’ll decide it is time; but is now the moment to be banging him for his fielding deficiencies? I don’t think so.
Lastly, let’s cover those who think that he’s nearing the end of his rope and this season is some miraculously long lucky streak. Jeter has been left for dead twice over the last few seasons. First, it was after the 2008 season where many of his numbers decreased. In 2009 he responded by hitting .334 with 18 HR, 107 R and 66 RBI. His OPS was .871. Then he had a miserable 2010 season (especially when compared with 2009) and it continued into the first half of 2011. He went on the DL in mid-June and missed 18 games, coming back on July 4, 2011. On July 9 he went 5-for-5 including a homer for his 3,000th hit and he has not looked back since. Here are Jeter’s numbers from that day through last night along with a scaled 162-game view based on the period:
That’s a .330 batting average, with moderate power and hey look, some speed. After 2009 and 2010 the question became; which season was the aberration? After the first half of 2011, many would have said 2009. Now, since July 9, 2011, one may think it is the other way around and 2010 plus the first half of 2011 should be considered the outlying time period.
I like to look at the bright side, so while I’m not sure Jeter can keep up the pace he is setting over the last few weeks, I do feel he has plenty left in the old tank to continue to be productive with the bat for at least a few more seasons. Maybe he’ll reach 4,000 hits or maybe he won’t. He’ll go through his ups and downs just like any other player and yes eventually he’ll fall into a decline that won’t stop. Or will he? Look no further than what Chipper Jones is doing in his final season and you’ll see that it is possible to go out with a vengeance.
Right now, can’t we just sit back and enjoy what he’s doing instead of railing over his inadequacies which borders on being picky? We’re watching a true icon obliterate records and anyone who doubts Jeter’s resolve and abilities going forward is sure to be disappointed.