New York Yankees: 4 Reasons Derek Jeter Is Still an Elite SS
At 38-years-old and hitting a solid .317 average, the best mark of any shortstop in the majors, Yankees captain Derek Jeter is once again dominating the baseball world.
Though the team has given some ground, the shortstop remains the best at his position in the MLB.
Younger guys like Troy Tulowitzki, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus and Jose Reyes all have had excellent single seasons, but none possess the same savvy, patience, and discipline at the plate that Jeter has mastered over the years.
Though they may have better power numbers, no one can hold a candle to the Kalamazoo, Michigan native, who has proven time and time again in his later years that he is still one of the best, if not the best, to ever play his position.
Here are a few reasons the captain and leader of the AL East leading Yankees is still an elite shortstop.
Leads the Majors in Hits
As of September 2, Jeter has 177 hits, seven more than Miguel Cabrera who is second in the majors.
Jeter has long been a hits machine. He made this evident in his storybook quest for 3,000 hits, as he reached the milestone on a home run.
Espn Insider Dan Syzmborski believes the ageless wonder has a shot to reach 4,000 hits if he continues his strong play.
Though he has never won a batting title, he has had seven seasons of 200 hits. He will look to produce his eighth in 2012, needing just 23 more hits.
Defense Has Not Slowed Down
Jeter recently got himself into the top plays mix with another vintage play, running to his right, jumping and getting the throw to first in time to beat the runner. Some highlights from a great 2012 season show he still has the skills to remain a strong defensive player.
The veteran has always been known for making smart defensive plays to help the Yankees win games. His play at home plate in game 3 of the 2001 AL Division Series comes to mind as one of these plays.
Though that was over a decade ago, Jeter is still capable of similarly athletic feats.
Coupled with his always strong bat, there is no denying that Jeter is simply a great baseball player.
While his steal numbers have declined, his athleticism has not, as he is still able to throw out runners and display excellent range that has kept him at short stop and not third base or second base for his entire career.
Dominant in the First Inning
Remarkable research by The Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond uncovered an interesting set of statistics about the Yankees' shortstop.
Though Jeter strikes out often for a leadoff hitter and does not walk frequently, he has a staggering 47 first inning hits, the highest total in the majors.
He boasts a .385 batting average in the first inning.
The veteran is aggressive and able to make pitchers uncomfortable right from the start, which pays dividends for one of the best lineups in the major leagues.
Jeter’s ability to get hits early in games makes him so valuable to his team. The Yankees do not struggle to score runs, but no one in their lineup outside of maybe Granderson is capable of being the kind of strong leadoff guy that makes the rest of the lineup better.
Puts the Team on His Back
Jeter is a great example of the kind of player every organization, in any sport, would love to have.
He cares about his team and his organization more than anything, and serves as an ambassador of the team as well as a link between the players, young and old, and management.
He has the respect of the entire Yankees organization, which happens to be one of the most highly respected organizations in the world.
Jeter defines the term class act, both with his play and the way he carries himself off the field. You could not write up a career as fairy-tale-like as Jeter's.
Carrying an injury-riddled team to a 76-57 record, Jeter will benefit from having Alex Rodriguez back for the first time since July 24 to help shoulder the leadership load.
He has done everything in the star third baseman's absence, and with a strong month of September, could find himself taking the MVP award from Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera.
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