I would like to inform you that New York Yankee's shortstop Derek Jeter is a year and a half removed from a season in which he hit .334 over 150-plus games. A season where many people started thinking he could continue producing until he is 40.
Fast forward now to May of 2011 and the warm, fuzzy feelings surrounding Jeter have vanished. Now, criticism from the media is mounting and the hitless games are piling up.
But this is THE Yankee's captain we are talking about here. The man with the most hits for the most prestigious franchise in the most difficult sport. He has been the model of consistency since he broke in to the league 15 years ago.
So here is the case FOR Derek Jeter, the man under such scrutiny.
He is walking at a lower clip than his career average, but at the same time his strikeout rate is only 12 percent—well below his career 17 percent clip. This simply demonstrates the fact that his hands haven't slowed down. The biggest indicator for an aging swing is an inflated strikeout total.
During his outstanding 2009 campaign, Jeter's batting average of balls in play was .368. Yes, that is a little high, but Jeter is known for intelligent hitting and bat control to all fields. However, this year is a totally different story. His BABIP is a puny .278, an incredibly low rate for any kind of hitter. It is a sign of being unlucky more so than a decline in skills. Jeter's career BABIP is .355, which is a .77-plus increase from this year's number. If you take that and add just half of that to his average you get a solid .287 average.
The one area in which Jeter has shown a decline this year is in the power department, but since when do the Yankees count on Jeter to provide the fireworks? That is why they have A-rod, Tex and Cano behind him in the order. His career ISO (a measure of a player's power) stands at .137, and this year it is a minuscule .019. But like his hitting coach Kevin Long said—his power will come back once he starts using his lower half effectively. Anyone who knows baseball understands that it takes time to start generating lower half speed after reconfiguring a swing, especially the load-part of the stroke.
I will concede, Jeter is hitting an alarming rate of ground balls, but with a veteran hitter all it takes is an adjustment to where you make contact with the ball. Although I will admit, a 71 percent GB rate seems ridiculously high.
For those of you who like to knock Jeter in the field—I would like you to explain the six errors he made last year, and then take a look at the gold glove award he won because of it. His range may not be the same, but he is still a hell of a shortstop. In fact, Jeter's measured defensive stats suggest that this year is his BEST year in the field, all the way around.
Now at this time I would like to welcome any and all arguments against the numbers and figures shown above and I would love the chance to further disprove your notion that this is the end for one of the greatest shortstops America's pastime has ever seen.
Stop hating on Jeter, because he will come back and hit .290 on the year and make fools out of everyone who doubted him along the way.