Derek Jeter, Sadly, Has One of the Worst Range Factors Among Yankees' Shortstops

Harold FriendChief Writer IFebruary 25, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees throws the ball to first base against the Detroit Tigers during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Range Factor is a measurement of a defensive player's range. It is a simple statistic that is calculated by adding a fielder's put outs and assists, multiplying that number by nine and dividing the result by games played.

Derek Jeter is rated as an average defensive player by some "experts." Others consider him to be and to have been below average.

Range Factor for an infielder is dependent upon the number of ground balls put into play. Maybe, I hoped, that if they didn't hit many ground balls, I could rationalize Jeter's RF.  A batter that strikes out doesn't hit a ground ball.

The following table lists Jeter's Range Factor and the number of strikeouts New York Yankees pitchers recorded from 1996-2001:

 
YEAR    SO    RF

1996    1139    3.81      
1997    1165    3.90      
1998    1080    3.61      
1999    1111    4.45      
2000    1040    3.78      
2001    1266    4.05      
2002    1135    4.52      
2003    1119    3.81      
2004    1058    3.74      
2005    985      4.00      
2006    1019    4.25      
2007    1009    4.46      
2008    1141    4.12      
2009    1260    4.14      
2010    1154    4.02      
2011    1222    4.76      

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During Jeter's career, Yankees pitchers averaged 1,118 strikeouts a season. Jeter's Range Factor was 4.10.

In 2002, Jeter's 4.52 RF was the best of his career. The Yankees struck out 1,135 opposing batters. 

Jeter's lowest RF occurred in 1998, when Yankees' pitchers recorded 1.080 strikeouts.

A Pearson R reveals that the correlation between Jeter's RF and Yankees' pitchers' strikeouts for his career is only 0.188. There is only a small correlation between the two.

Another variable is a pitching staff's ratio of ground ball outs to fly ball outs. The following table shows Jeter's RF and Yankees' pitchers GO/FO ratio.

 YEAR     RF    GO/FO

1996    3.81    1.08      
1997    3.90    1.18      
1998    3.61    1.06      
1999    4.45    1.06      
2000    3.78    0.93      
2001    4.05    1.00      
2002    4.52    1.00      
2003    3.81    0.80      
2004    3.74    1.03      
2005    4.00    1.14      
2006    4.25    1.01      
2007    4.46    1.01      
2008    4.12    1.09      
2009    4.14    1.01      
2010    4.02    1.01      
2011    4.76    1.04     

In 2002, Jeter's RF was 4.52. The Yankees' GO/FO ratio was 1.00, which means pitchers recorded the same number of ground ball outs as fly ball outs. This reveals nothing.

The correlation between Jeter's RF and the ratio of ground outs to fly outs is .062, which is even less than the correlation between Jeter's RF and Yankees' pitchers' strikeouts.

Finally, here are the career Range Factors of some other Yankees shortstops:

PLAYER    RF      

Phil Rizzuto    5.13      
Tony Kubek    5.09      
Bucky Dent    4.94      
Tommy Tresh    4.85      
Alvaro Espinosa    5.04      
Fred Stanley    4.60      
Gene Michael     5.30     

I would never denigrate Derek Jeter, but as my mother used to say, "If everybody says you're sick, go to the doctor."

It's difficult to admit, but maybe some of those that don't think Jeter has been anything more than an adequate defensive player are right.