Derek Jeter’s Hot Streak

The Yankees are currently in first place in the American League East, but that’s not what fans are talking about at the moment. They’re not talking about how the Yanks are playing better than the heavily favored Red Sox or about Curtis Granderson’s MVP-caliber season or even Jesus Montero being stuck in Scranton. They are talking about Derek Jeter.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Heading into 2011, I was expecting a bounce back year from Jeter. He was coming off a career low slash line of .270/.340/.370 and even though I had no reason to believe that the aging captain just had a flukey season, as a die-hard Yankee fan, I just wanted to dream. And through the first half of the season Derek gave people a reason to think that he was certainly declining.

In April, he hit .256/.313/.278, in May he hit .274/.338/.371, and in June he was at .239/.314/.304 until getting injured and hitting the 15-day disabled list. While rehabbing in Tampa, he made a slight tweak to his swing, according to the DJ3K documentary that aired on HBO. Jeter did look much better when he came off the DL as he was hitting balls with more authority and to the gaps, kind of like he did in the good old days.

After the All-Star Break and after he got his 3000th hit, he continued to hit. So far in the second half, he is hitting .336/.393/.443 with a wOBA in upper .300’s as opposed to one hovering around .300 as it was in the early part of the season. The answer clearly lies deep within the numbers. If we take a look at the captain’s stats this year as opposed to 2010, one can see that he is hitting more line drives and less ground balls, something that backs up the fact that he is hitting the ball with more authority.

The thing that is so crazy about this is that he hasn’t really changed his approach at the plate. He is being just as aggressive as ever, walking around the same amount, and is swinging through the same amount of pitches. Instead, I think it lies with the way he is hitting the fastball. Last season, he posted the wFB of 1.4 and that is now up to 3.7 this year. With that, his runs above average have gone up with almost every other pitch. I don’t know if he is quicker to the ball or what or if he’s reading pitches better, but whatever it is, it’s working.

What’s going to be interesting to see is whether or not Jeter can sustain this type of performance. He is no doubt red hot right now (.395 BA in last ten games), but can he keep his current season average (.290) through the rest of the season, the playoffs, and beyond 2011. A lot of people thought the Bombers would have a dead weight at shortstop for the next two plus years and that might still be true, but at least this little hot streak will give us something to dream on for the time being.

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