March 20, 2009

Jeter unappreciated

Derek Jeter's range at shortstop has been scrutinized a lot in the media recently as Yankees writers are already worrisome of the Yankees' defense in 2009.  Frankly, it's pissing me off.

Let me start off by saying that Jeter won three gold gloves in a row from 2004-2006.  Even if you say Jeter's range is diminishing as each year goes by, you are forgetting a lot of his talents that are far more important than his range to his left.

For those concerned with his fielding skills, you may have forgotten that he still has a quality arm and is a master at backhanded plays.  While he may not have the greatest range to his left, he certainly makes up for it with his jump-throw play in the third base hole down pat.

Another point I want to get into about Jeter is his offensive skill set as a number two hitter.  I believe a true number two hitter is  a rare and valuable quantity these days.  I would rank Jeter second in all of baseball, only behind Dustin Pedroia, for number two hitters.  Oh by the way, any coincidence that Pedroia was MVP last season? 

If you compare Pedroia's '08 campaign to Jeter's second-in-MVP finish in '06, they are strikingly similar:

Pedroia: .326/.376/.493, 118 R, 213 H, 17 HR, 83 RBI 20 SB
Jeter: .343/.417/.483, 118 R, 214 H, 14 HR, 97 RBI, 34 SB

Oddly enough, they also both won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards for their respective positions.  (I still say Jeter deserved the MVP in '06 far more than Joe Mauer.)

The prototypical number two hitter needs to possess all offensive skills: hit for power, steal bases and have good bat control in order to move runners over via bunt or a hit to the right side.  If you are not convinced, here is more wisdom from Dave Cameron.

Anyways, Jeter's positive impact on the Yankees' four championships is undeniable.  He scored at least 104 runs and batted over .314 in all four championship seasons.  In the four World Series', Jeter's combined batting average is .342.  He also captured the World Series MVP in 2000.


Anonymous said...

I think that the pure amount of ground balls Jeter hits actually makes him a bad #2 hitter. It's causing him to hit into too many double plays. I think he would be better off hitting leadoff or batting third.

Lenny Neslin said...

He's definitely been hitting a lot of grounders during the WBC, but he's hardly doing anything right now for them. He needs to return to Yankee camp and get ready for the '09 season. I'm confident he can post another .300 season - filled with liners.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, clearly Jeter's skills are diminishing. In the WBC game where the US beat Puerto Rico with that great bottom-of-the-ninth rally, earlier Jeter let a run score when he ranged to his left and didn't quite get there. I also agree with Bronx Baseball - too many grounders. It'll be interesting to see how he does this year and how the Yankees handle his spot in the order as well as his spot on the field.

Anonymous said...

Bronx Baseball Daily is an idiot
Jeter is a .300 hitter. He has I'd say another 3 years of being a .300 hitter. The worst thing that a 2 hitter can do is hit a lot of fly balls. Ground balls are fine as long as they are hit behind the runner. Also, Jeter is fast enough to beat out double play balls.

A higher percentage of fly balls are outs than ground balls. Also, consider this. Ground balls tend to be caused by the batter being ahead of the pitch, and fly balls come when the batter is late. If Jeter is hitting more ground balls this year, he may have improved his bat-speed and this is just a timing issue.

Anonymous said...

The worst thing a number 2 hitter can do is to hit into a double play erasing the leadoff hitter. That is literally the worst outcome possible in that situation.

Jeter has hit into 45 double plays in the past two season. Only Miguel Tejada (54), Vlad Guerrero (46), and Magglio Ordonez (47) have hit into more over the past two years.

His slugging percentage has also dropped each of the past three years, meaning he is less likely to be able to drive the leadoff runner in.

Jeter also has a much higher OBP over the past 3 years than Johnny Damon, meaning he's giving his team more chances to drive in runs than their current leadoff hitter.

Recap, I might be an idiot, but somehow I know more than you about baseball. Also Jeter is a bad number 2 hitter and a good leadoff candidate.

Lenny Neslin said...

In a way, your double play comparison actually praises Jeter. I'd say he's in pretty good company if those are the three guys that compare to him.

I don't think you're an idiot, but if Jeter is a bad #2 hitter, than how come he's been batting there for over 10 years?

Anonymous said...

Alright, bad is a poor choice of words. He would better help the Yankees leading off then hitting 2nd.

Also a double play is the worst thing a hitter can do. There is no circumstances where you should be praised for doing that. What all those hitters have in common is that they hit the ball hard. That's all.

Lenny Neslin said...

They all have made at least four All-Star games in their careers.

Anonymous said...

Double plays actually happen very rarely in baseball. 24 a season (the highest in his career) are almost offset by his cut in strikeouts, which is in some cases just as bad. Striking out is the second worst thing a 2 hitter can do, and it typically happens much more often than double plays.

Another thing to consider is that fly balls result in outs more often than ground balls.

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