Joining The Jeter Discussion

A lot of people have been giving their two cents worth over the last month or so about Derek Jeter and whether or not he is done.  Meanwhile, I haven’t really been addressing the situation for the sole reason that it is still very early.  It is now may second and only 25 games have been played.  Why get so worked up so early?  But as more and more have written and talked about it, I feel compelled to say what I think.

Looks pretty good to me. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

I, as well as every other Yankee fan, was shocked when Jeter posted career lows in many categories last season.  After all he had a fantastic 2009 and was a big part of that World Series team.  In that year, he hit .334/.406/.465 with 18 homers, 67 RBI, a 7.1 WAR, and 30 stolen bases.  It should also be noted that he walked at a rate of 10.1% and struck out at a rate of 14.2%.  Why should we have expected such a sharp decline.

In 2010, there was no way around it: Derek stunk.  His hitting slash line was .270/.340/.370 with 10 home runs, 67 RBI, a 2.5 WAR, a, 8.5 BB%, and a 16 K%.  Many said that this was the start of Jeter’s decline, after all it was his age 36 season, but many said it was just an off year.  To be quite honest, nobody was sure, but Jeter worked with hitting instructor Kevin Long on eliminating his stride and we were all hopeful.

(Icon SMI)

Through 25 games, Jeter hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts.  He is hitting .242/.308/.263 with 6 RBI, 14 runs scored and he has lowered his K% to 10.5%.  He has yet to steal a base and he is the only every day player to not have a homer yet.  He is still hitting a ton of ground balls as his GB/FB ratio is a whopping 4.13 and he is not hitting a lot line drives.  In 2010, his LD% was a career low 16.1% and right now in 2011 it is at 9.4%.  So is it time to say he’s done?

I would say no.  Even though he is not the .320 hitter he was a few years ago, his offensive numbers are still relatively good.  Among MLB shortstops in 2010, he ranked first in hits and runs scored, eighth in RBI’s and OBP and tenth in batting average.  There is still some value in him because there wouldn’t be anyone to fill those numbers.

This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be changes to the way the Yankees handle the Captain.  That .308 on-base percentage and that .260 wOBA are not going to cut it for a guy hitting at the top of the order, especially on a team trying to win the American League East.  At one point or another, if those stats don’t improve, Joe Girardi is going to have no choice, but to move him down in the lineup.  I would like to see a combination of Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, or Russell Martin hitting in the top two spots in the lineup.

(Associated Press)

My point by writing this post up is that although people are flipping out about the numbers that Derek Jeter is putting up this season, they could be a lot worse.  However, they need to be smart about it because although the legend of Jeter is pretty big, they can’t let it get in the way of winning because he is doing no good at the top of the lineup right now.


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