New York Yankees Must Move Derek Jeter Down in Lineup ... to Cleanup

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IMay 9, 2011

Is Derek Jeter Coming Around
Is Derek Jeter Coming AroundNick Laham/Getty Images

Yesterday, Derek Jeter led the New York Yankees to a series victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington.

In the process, the captain slammed two home runs, which raises his season total in home runs to two.

It was the first time Jeter had hit a home run all year and only his fifth extra-base hit.

After going 4-for-6 at the plate, the leadoff hitter had raised his season average to .276.

Going into the game, Jeter was hitting an anemic .256, so in one afternoon, he raised his average 20 points.

That just goes to show you, again, how early in the season it is.

It also goes to show you that some of the critics who have been calling for Jeter's demotion in the lineup don't stop to think that a .270 hitter can become a .300 hitter with just three extra hits in 100 at-bats.

Jeter has now had 123 total at bats. So a game such as he had yesterday can really make his stats look good.

If you go back to the last season in which Jeter had Hall of Fame numbers, you don't have to go too far.

In 2009, Jeter finished the season hitting .334 with 212 hits. When he finished that season, he was 35 years old.

Now, as he approaches his 37th birthday, it might do all of us good to look at what his offensive numbers looked like at the same point two years ago.

On May 8, 2009, Derek Jeter was hitting .264, 12 points below his current average.

He had 33 hits at this point two years ago. Now he has 34.

He had slammed four home runs then, whereas he had to get two yesterday to even have a number in that stats column.

But he actually has more total extra-base hits now with five than he had in '09, because then he had hit no doubles. He now has three doubles.

None of this means anything when you consider that Jeter will get about 475 more ABs this season if he stays healthy.

But anyone who has an eye for baseball can tell you that in the last few games, Jeter has looked much better and the ball is now flying off his bat instead of looking like a wounded duck.

The title of this article is ridiculous, of course. Jeter was never a cleanup hitter. But he looked like one briefly yesterday.

And he gave all Yankee fans a reason to breathe easier and relax.

It is always a long season, and looking back just two short years should tell us all that Jeter can overcome a slow start to show why he is a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection.