No one deserves the benefit of the doubt more than Derek Jeter, but one could argue that he happens to be on the list of the worst shortstops in baseball. Jeter's April not only reaffirms Brian Cashman's stance on the shortstop in the offseason, but also demonstrates that Cashman should have been tough in negotiations.
Jeter's slash line of .250/.313/.270 does not suggest that he should be regarded as the worst offensive shortstop in baseball. However, his batted ball rates show a player who is in rapid decline.
He leads all of baseball in ground-ball percentage at 72.1 percent, six points higher than the second-highest total. His line-drive rate has dropped from 16.1 percent to a paltry 10.2. Ben Badler offered this fantastic stat on Twitter this morning: Jeter has hit one ball over the outfield fence in his last 560 plate appearances.
Jeter has collected 25 total hits. Two have gone for extra-base hits, and eight are infield singles. This leaves Jeter with the worst isolated power numbers among major-league shortstops at .020, which is second-worst among players with at least 80 plate appearances. Additionally, Jeter ranks fifth-worst among shortstops in wRC+, seventh-worst in wOBA (weighted on-base average) and fourth-worst in wRAA (runs above average).
Even Jeter's improved strikeout rate of 12 percent is misleading. His swinging strike percentage of 8.3 is the highest it has been since 2004. Jeter has obviously lost some bat speed, which has resulted in him chasing more pitches out the strike zone (28.8 percent). A BABIP of .278 shows that Jeter hasn't run across a string of good luck, but that number is somewhat inconsequential when used in conjunction with his batted ball rates.
I haven't even gotten into Jeter's range in the infield and the fact that he hasn't recorded a stolen base this season. Watching beloved icons age is one of the hardest things fans of professional athletes have to endure. While this will be a celebratory time for Jeter as he reaches the 3,000-hit plateau, Yankees fans like myself will have to deal with the realization that their favorite shortstop is a shadow of his former self.
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