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Posts Tagged ‘Derek Jeter’

For the last nine seasons, David Ortiz has been one of the most prolific hitters in baseball and the rock of the Boston Red Sox’ lineup. However, there hasn’t been much love for Big Papi on the free agent market. According to recent reports, the DH’s options seem limited to accepting arbitration or signing a discounted two-year deal with the Red Sox. If that really is the case, the Yankees should make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Brian Cashman has correctly identified pitching as the Yankees’ top priority. However, in the absence of attractive starting pitching on the market (at least not at a reasonable price), maybe that isn’t the best approach? After all, an alternative to preventing runs is scoring them, and adding Ortiz would certainly help the Yankees do just that.

With the exception of Don Baylor from 1983 to 1986, the Yankees have rarely had a full-time DH. Jorge Posada’s 90 games as a DH last year is surpassed by only seven other Yankees and ranks as the third highest total since 1991. So, if the team signed Ortiz, it would represent a philosophical reversal, especially for Joe Girardi, who has grown fond of using the DH as a “half day off” for his aging veterans.

Ironically, the man most likely to fill the DH slot for the Yankees in 2012 is 22-year old Jesus Montero. The most sensible objection to signing Ortiz is the negative impact it would have Montero’s playing time, but even that could be spun into a positive. Instead of settling on the rookie as a DH, the presence of Ortiz could force the Yankees to develop him more as a catcher, which, in the long run, would pay greater dividends.

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Lost amid the power explosion in yesterday’s 22-9 victory over the Athletics was another three-hit game by Derek Jeter, which momentarily vaulted the short stop over the .300 mark for the first time since the second game of the season.

Game-by-Game Progression of Derek Jeter’s Batting Rates

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Even though his status as a .300 hitter only lasted for one at bat (he struck out in the ninth to drop back down to .299), simply attaining the mark stands out as a remarkable accomplishment when you consider the depths to which the Yankees’ Captain had sunk. When Jeter went on the disabled list in mid-June with a strained calf, he was hitting a paltry .260./.324/.324. At the time of his sabbatical, there was rampant speculation about a lineup demotion, and even suggestions that the Yankees gradually replace him with Eduardo Nunez. In fact, for some, the countdown to 3,000 hits was more like a clock ticking away on Jeter’s time as a prominent member of the team.

Derek Jeter’s Overall Performance Over Given Periods
Source: Baseball-reference.com

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When Derek Jeter returned from the disabled list on July 4, there was some concern about whether his re-installation atop the lineup would short circuit a Yankees offense that had scored 5.7 per game in his absence. In addition, there was speculation about whether Joe Girardi might drop the Hall of Fame shortstop down in the lineup once his milestone 3,000th hit was attained. Almost immediately, however, the Yankees’ manager put an end to the whispers by steadfastly stating that Jeter would remain at the top of the batting order for the remainder of the season. Since then, Girardi has been more than rewarded for his vote of confidence.

Although the Yankees have experienced a one run per game decline in offense since Jeter’s return, the shortstop hasn’t been to blame. In fact, since July 4, Jeter has been the team’s best offensive player. Over the last 18 games, Jeter’s line of .324/.385/.521 has more resembled some of his best seasons than the year-plus decline that has led many to question his future. Expanding the sample to include the entire month of July, Jeter’s wOBA of .402 ranks third on the team behind Eduardo Nunez (.406) and Brett Gardner (.403). Jeter also leads the team with a WPA of 0.76 during the month, a figure equal to the combined total of the next two leaders (Nunez and Gardner). Ironically, in the absence of Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees who have stepped up the most are the ones most fans probably least expected.

Derek Jeter’s RHP/LHP Splits, 2002-2011 (click to enlarge)

Source: fangraphs.com

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Derek Jeter didn’t just join the 3,000 hit club. He broke the door down. By driving a 3-2 breaking pitch deep into the left field seats, the Yankees’ shortstop not only became the 28th player to reach the milestone, but the first to do it in pinstripes. In addition to his historic homer, Jeter added four more hits, including an eighth inning single that produced the game winning run. The Captain has always had a flair for the dramatic, but no one could have expected such a vintage performance.

Since the advent of professional baseball in 1871, 17,614 players have crossed the white lines, but only 28 have reached 3,000 hits, according to baseball-reference.com. Needless to say, the fraternity is an exclusive one. What makes the benchmark even more impressive is that while the significance of certain other statistics has waned over the 141-year history of the game, hits have always remained a defining measurement of ability, consistency, and longevity. Getting to 3,000 means just as much now as it ever did.

In honor of Jeter’s historic accomplishment, listed below is the rest of the 3,000 hit club along with details about how they gained admittance.

The Evolution of the 3,000 Hit Club

Player (Age) Hit Date Team Opponent Pitcher
Cap Anson* ? ? Cubs ? ?
Honus Wagner (40) 1B 6/9/1914 Pirates Phillies Erskine Mayer
Nap Lajoie (39) 2B 9/27/1914 Indians Yankees Marty McHale
Ty Cobb (34) 1B 8/19/1921 Tigers Red Sox Elmer Myers
Tris Speaker (37) 1B 5/17/1925 Indians Senators Tom Zachary
Eddie Collins (38) 1B 6/3/1925 White Sox Tigers Rip Collins
Paul Waner (39) 1B 6/19/1942 Braves Pirates Rip Sewell
Stan Musial (37) 2B 5/13/1958 Cardinals Cubs Moe Drabowsky
Hank Aaron (36) 1B 5/17/1970 Braves Reds Wayne Simpson
Willie Mays (39) 1B 7/18/1970 Giants Expos Mike Wegener
Roberto Clemente (37) 2B 9/30/1972 Pirates Mets Jon Matlack
Al Kaline (39) 2B 9/24/1974 Tigers Orioles Dave McNally
Pete Rose  (37) 1B 5/5/1978 Reds Expos Steve Rogers
Lou Brock  (40) 1B 8/13/1979 Cardinals Cubs Dennis Lamp
Carl Yastrzemski (39) 1B 9/12/1979 Red Sox  Yankees Jim Beattie
Rod Carew (39) 1B 8/4/1985 Angels Twins Frank Viola
Robin Yount (36) 1B 9/9/1992 Brewers Indians Jose Mesa
George Brett (39) 1B 9/30/1992 Royals Angels Tim Fortugno
Dave Winfield  (41) 1B 9/16/1993 Twins Athletics Dennis Eckersley
Eddie Murray (39) 1B 6/30/1995 Indians Twins Mike Trombley
Paul Molitor (39) 3B 9/16/1996 Twins Royals Jose Rosado
Tony Gwynn (39) 1B 8/6/1999 Padres Expos Dan Smith
Wade Boggs (41) HR 8/7/1999 Devil Rays Indians Chris Haney
Cal Ripken (39) 1B 4/15/2000 Orioles Twins Hector Carrasco
Rickey Henderson (42) 2B 10/7/2001 Padres Rockies John Thomson
Rafael Palmeiro (40) 2B 7/15/2005 Orioles Mariners Joel Pineiro
Craig Biggio (41) 1B 6/28/2007 Astros Rockies Aaron Cook
Derek Jeter (37) HR 7/8/2011 Yankees Rays David Price

*Due to record keeping errors and rule interpretations, Cap Anson’s reported hit total ranges from 2,995 to over 3,500.
Note: Home team in bold.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

  • Derek Jeter is the only hitter to go 5-5 in the same game he recorded his 3,000th hit. Craig Biggio is the only other play to record five hits.
  • Derek Jeter and Wade Boggs are the only two players whose 3,000th hit was a homerun.
  • Paul Molitor is the only player to reach 3,000 hits with a triple.
  • At .483, Stan Musial carried the highest batting average into his 3,000-hit game. Cal Ripken’s .176 batting average was the lowest.
  • Roberto Clemente recorded his 3,000th hit in the last plate appearance of his career. During the offseason, he was killed in a plane crash while participating in a humanitarian effort in Nicaragua.
  • Dennis Eckersley is the only Hall of Fame pitcher to surrender an opponent’s 3,000th hit (Dave Winfield).
  • Minnesota Twins’ pitchers have surrendered the 3,000th hit to four players (Tris Speaker, Rod Carew, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken), the most by any franchise.
  • Three players have reached 3,000 hits in an Indians’ uniform (Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker and Eddie Murray), more than any other team.

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Maybe Derek Jeter shouldn’t retire after all?

Considering the furor caused by the short stop’s early season struggles, you’d have thought Jeter was the only part of the Yankees’ team not performing up to standards. In Sunday’s 12-5 rout of the Texas Rangers, however, the Captain allayed those fears…at least for one day.

By going 4-6 with two line drive homeruns over the right centerfield wall, Jeter changed the off day’s narrative from “what’s wrong with the Captain” to “could he be turning it around”? Instead of having to deal with questions about his lagging performance, Jeter can now bask in the glow of a road trip that saw him bat .393/.414/.643.

Although the growing chorus of Jeter’s detractors will likely dismiss the performance as “only one game”, it’s worth noting that his WAR of 0.6 (fangraphs’ version) ranks within reach of every other American League shortstop except Maicer Izturis (who has played only 11 of 26 games at the position). Ironically, a large part of that ranking is attributable to Jeter’s defense, which, according to UZR/150, currently ranks ninth best in all of baseball.

In addition to finding his power stroke over the weekend, Jeter also earned the distinction of becoming the most tenured short stop with one team, surpassing Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,302 games with the Orioles. By the end of the season, Jeter will also surpass Mickey Mantle for the most games played by a Yankee, not to mention the first player in the franchise to reach 3,000 hits.

True Yankees: Longest Tenured Yankees at Each Position

As of May 8, 2011.
Note: Blue lines represent those who only played for the Yankees. Gray lines represent most games at position by players who were also on other teams.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

Judging by the tone earlier in the week, it was easy to come away with the impression that some would prefer if Jeter didn’t stick around long enough to accomplish any of the aforementioned milestones. In an ironic twist, it almost seems as if the Captain has worn out his welcome with a significant portion of the fan base simply because he may never regain the glory of his prime years. Hopefully, Sunday’s game will stem the tide of that sentiment. A standing ovation for Jeter in his first at bat at the Stadium on Tuesday would be a nice place to start.

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For most of his career, Derek Jeter has been a mainstay atop the Yankees lineup. Since the start of the 1998 season, the Captain has started only one game lower than third in the batting order, and that time he was called upon to hit cleanup. That’s why the idea of shifting Jeter back toward the end of the order has become such a controversial topic.

Don Mattingly was a fixture in the three-hole for over a decade.

Even before the ink dried on his new four-year extension, there were rumblings about how long Jeter would last as prominent figure in the batting order. Joe Girardi has always been quick to deflect that speculation, but with his shortstop hitting .242/.308/.263, the questions are likely to begin once again.

During Saturday afternoon’s telecast on YES, Michael Kay broached the topic of batting order position with Paul O’Neill by asking him about the time he permanently replaced Don Mattingly in the coveted three-hole. Although the conversation was inspired by Nick Swisher’s constant movement throughout the lineup, it was impossible to not think of Jeter, which made O’Neill’s further elaboration all the more interesting.

Manager Buck Showalter, who earlier this season reacted harshly when asked about switching Mattingly and O’Neill, began contemplating the new-look lineup last month and then discussed it with both players”. – Jack Curry, New York Times, July 21, 1994

Although Mattingly had frequently batted second and fourth during his prime, the third slot was his primary home since he first emerged as a superstar in 1984. As the 1994 season progressed, however, an impending lineup change seemed unavoidable. Nonetheless, even with O’Neill batting over .400 well into June, Showalter continued to resist the change by deflecting the mounting questions. Soon, however, the Yankees’ manager could no longer put off the inevitable.

The changing of the guard finally took place on July 20, 1994 in Oakland. Although O’Neill incorrectly recalled that the occasion occurred in Texas, his memory was dead on in one regard: Mattingly was exceedingly gracious when it came time to make the change. Always the consummate teammate, Mattingly deflected any notion of resentment and fully embraced the decision. In other words, he did what Captains do.

If I was the manager, I would have done it a long time ago with the way Paul is seeing the ball. I talked to Paul about it. You want to try to get him the most at-bats.” – Don Mattingly, quoted in the New York Times, July 21, 1994

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Derek Jeter is a human being. That seems to be the lesson derived from the New York Post’s preview of Ian O’Connor’s forthcoming book about Jeter, which will focus on the Captain’s relationship with Alex Rodriguez.

Arod’s unflattering comments about Jeter in the March 2001 issue of Esquire led to a cooling off period in their friendship.

Weaving Arod into the narrative has almost become a prerequisite for publishing a baseball book, so it’s not surprising that O’Connor would go that route. What is difficult to understand, however, is why so many people seem to be regarding the excerpts as groundbreaking news.

Just about anyone who has followed the Yankees over the past 10 years is well aware of the icy relationship that existed between the two superstars for most of the past decade, so O’Connor’s initial revelations hardly qualify as news. Although the quotes attributed to Brian Cashman aren’t part of the record, most of the other details have been widely reported and discussed.

A common reaction to the New York Post’s predictably sensational presentation of the excerpts has gone something like this: “You see…Jeter isn’t perfect. What’s more, he has been a bad leader all along.” Considering the piling on that the Captain has endured since showing the first signs of succumbing to age, that reaction has pretty much been par for the course. However, that doesn’t give the book’s author, or its readers, a license for hypocrisy.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

Over any 10-game stretch, even the most accomplished hitter can experience a dry spell. For the most part, such slumps pass by unnoticed, but when they occur at the beginning of the season, there is usually much more scrutiny.

Contact has been hard to come by for Brett Gardner.

For established players in their prime, the early panic is usually unwarranted. However, for aging veterans and younger players without a proven track record, each new season brings with it justifiable skepticism. This year, the Yankees have three hitters who fall into that category.

Derek Jeter’s 2010 was such a deviation from the norm, that it’s only natural to wonder if the great Yankees’ short stop is in the midst of a drastic decline. Unfortunately, the first 11 games of the season have done little to dispel that fear. In almost 50 plate appearances, Jeter has only one extra base hit, resulting in the 13th lowest slugging percentage among qualified batters in the American League. The biggest reason for his lack of power has been an inability to drive the ball in the air. To this point, a whopping 79% of Jeter’s at bats have resulted in a ground ball. What’s more, 25% of his fly balls haven’t let the infield. In other words, Jeter’s .256 BABIP doesn’t point to bad luck, but rather bad contact.

Derek Jeter’s Contact Profile, 2002-2011

Source: fangraphs.com

Amid all the bad omens, there are two positive signs that one can take away from Jeter’s early performance. The first is he has avoided swinging at, and making contact with, pitches outside of the zone. In 2010, Jeter recorded career highs in both categories, but this season, his rates have returned to more normal levels. As a result, Jeter’s walk rate has risen back over 10%, which is where it has been during his best seasons. Another silver lining is the Yankees have mostly faced right handed pitchers. Even in his best years, the Captain has greatly preferred facing lefties (he has a .445 wOBA in 10 plate appearances against lefties this season), so the lack of such opportunities has likely been a drag on his performance.

If you give Jeter an allowance for adjusting to his new batting stance (or reverting back to the old one), and then take into account the way the schedule has broken down, there’s still reason to hold out hope that the future Hall of Famer can at least return to being an above average offensive short stop.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

Ever since (and even before) the ink dried on his contract extension, there has been a lot of talk about “moving” Derek Jeter, whether it be down in the batting order or to one of the corner positions on the field. So, not surprisingly, Joe Girardi’s recent decision to tinker with his batting order during spring training generated a bit of a buzz.

Before last night’s exhibition game against Tampa, Brett Gardner found himself leading off, while Jeter batted second. Judging by some of the reaction, you’d have thought this constituted a revolutionary change. Even if the move was made on Opening Day, instead of during the exhibition schedule, it still wouldn’t have been a big deal. After all, over the course of his career, Jeter’s position in the lineup has regularly changed to fit the team’s roster at the time.

Most Common Yankees’ Leadoff Hitters, 1996-2010

Year Leader Second Third
1996 Wade Boggs (79) Derek Jeter (40) Tim Raines (38)
1997 Derek Jeter (102) Tim Raines (52) Scott Pose (6)
1998 Chuck Knoblauch (150) Homer Bush (9) Derek Jeter (3)
1999 Chuck Knoblauch (148) Scott Brosius (4) Chad Curtis (4)
2000 Chuck Knoblauch (101) Derek Jeter (21) Ricky Ledee (13)
2001 Chuck Knoblauch (125) Derek Jeter (26) Alfonso Soriano (7)
2002 Alfonso Soriano (150) Derek Jeter (10) Enrique Wilson (1)
2003 Alfonso Soriano (141) Derek Jeter (20) Enrique Wilson (1)
2004 Derek Jeter (62) Bernie Williams (47) Kenny Lofton (41)
2005 Derek Jeter (154) Tony Womack (8)  
2006 Johnny Damon (144) Melky Cabrera (17) Bernie Williams (1)
2007 Johnny Damon (123) Melky Cabrera (32) Bobby Abreu (5)
2008 Johnny Damon (131) Brett Gardner (12) Melky Cabrera (9)
2009 Derek Jeter (147) Brett Gardner (11) Johnny Damon (4)
2010 Derek Jeter (137) Brett Gardner (25)  

Source: Baseball-reference.com

In 1996, Jeter gradually made his way from the bottom of the lineup to the top before establishing himself as the primary leadoff hitter during the World Series. Then, despite starting 1997 by hitting .373/.471/.542 mostly from the leadoff slot, the reigning rookie of the year was dropped all the way to seventh when Tim Raines was activated from the disabled list. Following a prolonged slump at the bottom of the order, Jeter eventually resurfaced back at the top. In 1998, the acquisition of Chuck Knoblauch led to Jeter’s installation as the permanent number two hitter, where he remained for most of the next six seasons. When Alfonso Soriano was traded after the 2003 season, Jeter was again enlisted to be the leadoff hitter, but that assignment corresponded with one of the worst slumps of his career. Bernie Williams filled in the first spot for a stretch, but once he regained his swing, Jeter returned to the top and continued leading off for the next two seasons. In 2007 and 2008, Jeter and Johnny Damon swapped slots in the order, and then in 2009, switched once again. So should anyone be surprised that Jeter, who batted leadoff for most of 2010, once again finds himself with an undetermined position in the order?

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Proving that he is indeed a chip off the old block, Hank Steinbrenner stopped by the Yankees’ Spring Training camp in Tampa and immediately made his presence known. Speaking to an assembled pack of reporters, the elder Steinbrother sounded off on a variety of topics, including the Yankees’ growing revenue sharing bill as well as the viability of small market teams. However, the comments that raised the most eyebrows pertained to the perceived lack of focus by last year’s team, including those who were “too busy building mansions and doing other things, and not concentrating on winning”.

Each Spring, Steinbrenner would deliver a state of the team address to a horde of assembled reporters, like in this photo from March 1, 1995.

That last comment in particular, which was an obvious reference to Derek Jeter, was right out of the George Steinbrenner play book (in fact, the remark was a reiteration of his father’s December 2002 criticism of the distractions stemming from Jeter’s “bachelor lifestyle”). Predictably, Hank’s outspokenness was widely criticized in the mainstream media and around the blogosphere, but considering his bark is without bite, I am actually kind of glad he took the time to share his thoughts. Since George’s declining health forced him to recede from active involvement, Yankees Spring Training has missed some of the entertainment that the Boss used to provide. Of course, when his father sounded off, it was much more likely to have an impact on the team. With Hank, however, you get all the fun with little of the worry. As long as his comments don’t translate into the decision making, an occasional stream of consciousness from Hank isn’t so bad.

When the Boss was in charge, Spring Training always followed the same pattern. Steinbrenner would report to camp like a general inspecting his troops, vow that he would no longer meddle with the team and then usually break that promise before the end of spring (sometimes even before the end of the conversation). The Boss would also typically single out one of his players for a pointed comment or two, particularly if that player happened to sign a new contract at a displeasing level of compensation during the previous offseason. Listed below are some of George Steinbrenner’s more memorable spring salvos (followed by context).

If Sparky Lyle isn’t mature enough to understand that he has a contractual and moral obligation to the New York Yankees, we certainly are not going to waste one minute of our time in attempting to find out where he is.” – February 22, 1978, Modesto Bee

Sparky Lyle had made a habit of reporting late to Spring Training, but in 1978, he was particularly unhappy because of the exorbitant salaries paid to newcomers like Rich Gossage and Andy Messersmith. The Boss was unsympathetic to Lyle’s plight, but managed to keep a cool head and good sense of humor about the situation. When Lyle finally arrived, Steinbrenner had him greeted at the airport by a 100-piece high school band playing “Pomp and Circumstance” underneath a banner that read “Welcome to Fort Lauderdale Sparky – Finally”. (more…)

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