My hometown Detroit Tigers wrapped up a series today against perennial powerhouse New York Yankees and as the final game came to a close, I came to the strong realization of how high of a level Derek Jeter is currently playing at.
In other words, Derek Jeter has still got "it." What "it" is remains to be seen, but the Yankee great is off to his best start in years and appears poised to place him name on the short list of greatest hitters who have ever played the game.
I concede that we have only played an eighth of the season and things are far from being done. Making lofty player expectations and labeling players as finished or back is something reserved for blow-hearts and bar flies. Having said all of this, Yankee fans and enthusiasts alike have to be very pleased with Jeter's torrid place thus far.
Through 20 games, Jeter is hitting .386 with four home runs and 13 RBI. His on base percentage is .440 and he has hit six doubles.
To what do we attribute this hot start? I haven't the slightest idea. Jeter is 37 years old now and will turn 38 in June. In the past decade we have seen players improve their plate presence and power numbers via performance enhancers and foul play alike. With drug testing what it is right now and the game trying to renew its popularity in the eyes of fans, I choose to believe that this form of improvement has gone by the wayside and is a thing of the past.
Ichiro Suzuki is less than a year older than Derek and he, too, is playing at a high level. I suppose that as a hitter you never lose the ability to hit or the knowledge and understanding of batting techniques. Athletes may lose their youth and their quickness, but with conditioning and an understanding of the game the more experienced players can provide solid contributions. In Derek Jeter's case, these contributions are closing in on monumental achievements.