Derek Jeter's heartbreaking injury could have long-term effects on his performance. (Image: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)

Derek Jeter 2013: Will the Ankle Injury Affect Production?

No Yankees fan can forget Derek Jeter‘s heartbreaking injury in the 12th inning of Game 1 of the ALCS this year. At that moment, it really felt like the Yankees’ postseason was over. But more than the short term consequences, I, and many other fans, had an awful feeling in the back of my mind that Derek Jeter’s career was over.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case. Though he was out for the rest of the playoffs of course, Jeter will be healthy and ready to play by Spring Training. However, that doesn’t mean that the injury won’t affect Jeter’s performance. Especially for a player of his age, a leg injury like the Captain’s can have a significant effect on performance.

Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues took a look at this very subject today, using Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections to see what we can expect from Jeter going forward: Projecting Derek Jeter

Great players tend to age differently than others, but no matter how iconic he may be, Jeter is 38 years old and Father Time is lurking. The number of full-time shortstops who qualified for the batting title at that age (or older) and managed to be above-average offensively is three, and only one has done it in the last 60 years. That was Jeter in 2012. Factor in the ankle injury, the significance of which should not be downplayed, and I think it’s far to say the Yankees captain is more of a question mark now than ever before, even after that disappointing 2010 season.

I certainly hope that Axisa and Szymborski are wrong about Jeter, but given his age, skill set, and leg injury, none of us should expect great production from him in 2013. I know we say that every year, and he never fails to outperform expectations, but every year, the likilihood of Jeter take a big step backwards increases.


Questions for discussion:

1) What do you expect from Derek Jeter in 2013? Will the ankle injury hinder his performance?

2) Who on the Yankees must step up if Jeter does, in fact, struggle offensively?

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  • David_Gianatasio

    I think at this stage, a return to, more or less, 2011 production by Jeet would be appreciated by all. I’d guess .290/.350/.400 is the BEST we can hope for, perhaps in 130 games. 10 HRs, 50 RBIs, 75 RS would be a-ok, but I can’t realistically see him doing too much more, even if he’s 100% healthy, which he won’t be. At his age, given the gravity of the injury, that’d be a darn fine year! (I expect a slow start, perhaps a sub-Mendoza 150 at-bats, then, as the weather warms and if the ankle holds out, he’ll top .300 the rest of the way.)

    • Jimmy Kraft

      Aggressive, I like it!

    • Matt Hunter

      Really, at this age, with the injury and the general aging curve of guys with his skill set, any value from him would be great. I know I sound like a pessimist, but age and injury are hard to combat.

      • Jimmy Kraft

        I share this sentiment as well. I mean, it’s difficult to believe Jeter will repeat his 2012 numbers. At some point, he’ll decline and I don’t thikn it’ll be particularly pretty either. I might have thought differently if he didn’t break his ankle to end his season, but as it stands now. I think we are in for a .270/.333/.393 season for Jeter. I hate saying this, but I hope after 2014 he just retires, don’t tarnish your legacy for a year or more of sub-par production. Just tell the ego to step aside. haha

        • David_Gianatasio

          You could be right about those numbers. Still and all, that wouldn’t be a bad year for him. That’d be about his 2010 production level … which was down by his standards, but not miserable for a SS. Another danger is that the injury really flares up and he misses major time. The less he plays, the worse he plays. A nightmare season of .195 in 50 games is possible … though I think the chances of that are slim. I agree he should hang it up post-2014, ESPECIALLY if he puts up decent numbers. Not too many great MLB shortstops (or HOFers at any position) have gone out on a high note. Jeter should consider that. Check out the final years of Ozzie Smith … or Trammell, Larkin or Vizquel. Not so pretty. (And I’m not 100% sure Omar won’t try to sneak in a few games in 2013!) It’s just too hard for them to give up the fame, money, the life …

  • Bill B

    I over analyzed jeter last year. He will be fine. He will be an above average shortstop and bat .290. Just gut. Just gut after 50 years of Yankee watching.

    • Matt Hunter

      Could be. But at some point, he won’t be an above average shortstop anymore. I know we always said that about Mo and it never happened, but he’s a very special case. I love DJ and I want him to succeed, but you can’t do anything about Mother Nature. .290 isn’t out of the question, but if that comes with little to no power, which I think is very possible, he won’t be too valuable. But, of course, you can’t predict baseball, so what do I know?

      • Bill B

        Matt; Your logic and history shows you are likely to be correct. Since Jeter will always be a Yankee in some capacity we will have to hope and wait for that inevitable decline and hope it is graceful. Graceful like the great Yankee he has been. Thanks for your considered polite response.

        • Matt Hunter

          You’re welcome, and thanks for reading and commenting. I do think there’s something to be said for leaving the game before the real decline even hits. Of course, you’re giving up the possibility of more productive years, but it also just makes the player look better in the long term. I hope that when Jeter does retire, he announces it early and doesn’t change his mind, similar to the way Chipper did it this year. That way teams and fans can honor him and give him a proper farewell.

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