A case of perception vs. reality with Jeter

Everything — except the name — is for sale
Game 107: Breakin' the slump

In the bottom of the first last night, Derek Jeter grounded out to third on the first pitch. This prompted a discussion regarding Jeter’s propensity this year to swing at the first pitch. It seems like he does it all the time. Anyone else agree? I’m sure there are at least some that have noticed this.

However, looking at Baseball Reference, this is not the case at all. In fact, Jeter has swung at the first pitch in just 31 percent of his plate appearances. That ties his career low mark, as he put up the same percentage over the course of last year.

What’s stranger is that Jeter seems to do better when he swings at the first pitch more and makes contact overall less. In 1999, Jeter’s best overall season, he swung at the first pitch in 41 percent of his plate appearances, a career high, and made contact 80 percent of the time. This year, as last year, he’s making contact in 85 percent of his plate appearances. In 2006, when he should have been MVP, he swung at the first pitch 37 percent of the time, and made contact 82 percent.

So what’s wrong with Derek Jeter this season? He’s not hitting poorly, per se. A .286/.348/.404 line isn’t horribly by any stretch, but we’ve come to expect a bit more from the captain. Is he in a decline phase? It’s possible, though no one wants to admit it. It’s one of the only explanations I can come up with. Anyone else seeing anything else?

Late add: His line drive percentage is down and his groundball percentage is up a little. That goes some way in explaining things.

Everything — except the name — is for sale
Game 107: Breakin' the slump
  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    I still think that pitch that hit him in the wrist had a big effect. Maybe he’s not playing hurt now, but maybe he was at one point and it fouled up his swing. He just doesn’t look the same though, rolling over weakly on a lot of balls.

    • Cam

      Definitely. I had thought at the time he needed a couple more games to get the wrist right, but it’s Jeter, he doesn’t stand for that kind of stuff. A lot of these balls he’s hitting on the ground, like last night, are hard hit. He just seems like he’s not getting the ball on a line in the air as much as he used to. It kind of feels like Bernie the last 2 season he was with the team. You kind of felt like a lot of those ground balls he was hitting would’ve been line drives a year or two prior. He’s still hitting the ball hard, but for whatever reason, more of them are on the ground than they used to be.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

        Hey, you hit a ball over the head of Adam Jones in CF, you still have it in my book.

    • Ivan

      Could be. He has had a difficult time pulling or driving the ball. It’s not like his power is going away fast, he still drives the ball with authority opposite field quite well.

      Again, I feel he needs to pull the ball more. Alot of his DP are 4-6-3, tells me that tries to go the other way with pitches he should pull which might relate to his wrist.

  • http://sonofsteinbrenner.blogspot.com/ Dennis

    He’s not hittin enough line drives, it’s that simple. In his career, his LD% is 20.4%. This year, it is 16.6%. That 38 point (i.e. 3.8%) difference accounts perfectly for his drop it average. After all, as .038 to .286 and what do you get? .324, which is very close to his career mark.

    Jeter’s either getting old and thus worse at hitting line drives, or has a mechanical flaw that’s not being addressed leading to fewer liners.

  • Joey H

    Im leaving for the game now. WHOOO HOOO! kick ass joba! lol .

  • http://justinyates.wordpress.com Derek Jeter’s right hand

    I’m still hurting and that makes it hard for my homeboy to get the ball in the air

  • DP

    DFA him, he sucks

    • ChrisS

      I know you’re being sarcastic, but I hope the Yankees have a better plan to replace Jeter than just Angelini, regardless of how well-thought of he is.

      If it’s decline, it can go south real quick. If it’s just shaking off an injury, well he is 34, and 3-5 years isn’t very far in the future.

      • A.D.

        His batting decline seems less of an issue, he’s never been a guy who rips pitches down the line & such, so loosing some bat speed is less of an issue, and he’s hitting .280 despite a terrible stretch after he got hit on the hand, I wouldn’t be too worried about a decinle, at least what we’ve seen

  • bklynJT

    The reason Jeter hits into so many double plays is a result of a the league catching onto his hitting tendencies. Over his career, Jeter has always been a ground ball hitter, with basically 59% of his batted balls being ground balls, and a majority of those balls being hit up the middle. Typical Jeterian swing right?

    When there is a man on first, it seems to me that the defense begins to shade Jeter up the middle. 2b and ss shade towards the middle, and the corner infielders play farther away from the line to guard the left and right side holes.

    • Adam

      it seems unlikely that after 12 years, the league has just now caught up to his tendencies. i think something else is going on here.

      • dbroncos31

        I think his groundballs are probably hit less hard than in the past. As a result, it is much more likely that the SS and 2B will get to the balls.

        He is also probably a little slower, which hurts his infield hit% and turns fielder’s choices from 1997 into DPs in 2008.

  • pounder

    He better stop selling those cars and focus on the the game!Torre is not here to protect him anymore.

    • Adam

      jeter doesn’t got a focus, he’s got an edge.

  • Adam

    i haven’t spent long enough looking at the splits but it seems to me like jeter is far to willing to swing in 2 or 3 ball counts. what stands out in my mind was the first game in pittsburgh against tom gorzelanny. melky led of the game taking a called strike, then walked on 4 straight pitches. derek took two balls then grounded into a double play against a pitcher who had lost the strike zone. in the third inning, darell rasner walked on 4 straight pitches after falling behind 0-2, then melky walked on the next 4 pitches. jeter saw 2 more balls, a strike, a ball, then grounded into a force play. the pitcher had thrown 11 balls in 12 pitches and he had a 3 ball count, so why swing?

    i know that these are two isolated instances in an extremely long season, but i see them as a microcosm for jeter’s year.

    • A.D.

      lately it does seem like hes swung more on 2-0 or 3-0 counts, he’s not someone who going to rip HR, we just want him on base

      Probably just viewer bias, but still, rare to see Jeter swing in those counts

  • A.D.

    Part of the perception is no one is going to complain when he singles on the first pitch.

    I think, as Mike A. pointed out right away, a big factor was getting hit, definitly fouled him up for awhile, and thus his BA where it is now, I’d still take a Jeter hitting .280 to .290.

    The most frustrating part about Jeter is the DP, right as things can get set up, bam the bases are barren. Some adjustment needs to be made, either send the runners more with Jeter up, bat him leadoff so it becomes less of an issue, or he needs to make a batting adjustment with runners on to get the ball up, either way 15 GIDP from the 2 hitter, who’s not extremly slow, is inexcusable

  • raymagnetic ®™

    He needs to strikeout some more.

    • Adam

      it is sad that you say that because i remember seeing jeter come up in a big spot with a runner on first and none out recently, and i was thinking about how it would probably the best for him to strike out rather than empty the bases (the bad way).

  • E-ROC

    In the off-season, Jeter work on agility and speed to help with his range at short; thus didn’t do much of in the way strength training. I think that is one of the reasons his line-drive percentage is down. Or I’m probably just reaching.

  • Donna

    I think the pitch that hit his wrist, did mess up his swing. But couldn’t it just be something as simple as he’s having a down year? I don’t think by any stretch that he’s played horrible. I can’t believe that his delcine would happen so fast. Wasn’t it just two years ago that he almost won a batting title and a MVP?

  • http://nyyu.blogspot.com Mike @ NYYU

    All I know is that he one of the league leaders in GIDP.

    • ceciguante

      yep — he’s 2d in GIDP w/ (i think) 16. vlad is first, btw.

      does anyone remember when he got hit by that pitch or what his splits are before / after?

      seems to me DJ is off a bit mechanically. i sense from watching that he’s either a touch late and is compensating by starting earlier, or his swing is a bit off on account of lingering pain which is causing him to turn over. he doesn’t seem to have that slight uppercut that produces liners…i agree w/ whoever recalled bernie towards the end, it looks similar. i’m guessing it’s injury and not age that’s hampering jeter. 34’s a bit early to start banging into all these DPs.

  • Bart

    The %s and tendencies may not have as much to do as with

    — some decline due to age
    — a result of the many injuries to his hands
    — this last injury

    He did the agility drills over the winter and seems to have increased glove side range but from spring training it appeared to me (watching TV) that he had lost some throwing accuracy — I have wondered from that time if he did not have some nagging right side injury — maybe not the arm – but chest or back just a twinge would be enough. Hitting would be affected as well, maybe more so

    The other impact is situational

    I know I have yelled at the TV watching him swing at the first pitch when the guy in front has wallked on 4 straight balls and at the first pitch of a reliever throwing his first pitch.

    — swinging at the first pitch with no outs and a runner on does not seem to be good baseball – probably reinforced by all the amature coaches who pounded into our heads to take one, be patient, work the count — maybe those concepts don’t appply to MLB players or in this case to Jeter

    Jeter has to be a Yankee forever – for all kinds of reasons having to do with Yankee tradition — so he needs to play somewhere besides SS at some point

    I would trade Cabrerra or move him to RF if the belief is he can develop
    and Play Jeter in CF — I’d move Cano to SS (ARod is not moving to SS at htis stage) and get a 2B — I’d leave Cano alone if there were a premium SS available but I think itis easier finding a 2b.

    If Chipper Jones, Robin Yount and others could make such chnages i believe Jeter can.

    The risk increases each year that he can still be a plus plus SS and the wear and tear on him at 35-36 years of age should be avoided (my belief again)

    Thinking about moving him would open differnt options to Cashman

  • http://yankeesfaninboston.blogspot.com DMan

    I’m looking at baseball reference…

    I just noticed that Jeter has only had 3 AB’s this year with the count has gotten to 3-0

    That’s pretty crazy.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Well, 3-0 counts tend to end in walks eventually, which don’t count as at-bats. Is that skewing the data? It could me0na he’s had onl 3 AB’s that went 3-0 that didn’t end in a walk. How many plate appearances has he gotten to 3-0?

      I’m not trying to be a dick, I’m actually curious.

      • Adam

        mike is right, AB’s on the 3-0 count only counts the times that he has put the ball in play, a ball results in a walk (not an AB), and a strike means that no stats were accumulated on the 3-0 count. you should look just below at “after a 3-0 count” where it says that he has had 14 plate appearances and 9 AB’s, thus 5 walks. that by the way is brutal, how could you only walk in 5 of 14 plate appearances after going 3-0??? he is 1 for 9 hitting by the way after 3-0. miserable.

  • r.w.g.

    Yeah he might be in decline. But he’s an all-time player and a lot of those all-time players find a way to grind out a few more top flight seasons.

    He’ll probably just have to continue to make some adjustments. I know in the off-season he really worked at being quicker and more limber to improve his defense. Do the defensive numbers indicate he was successful?

  • Johnny

    Check his splits for June and July. Derek Jeter is still Derek Jeter, its just that a player like him cant erase 2 bad months to start the season in a short period of time.

    Especially without a major hot streak.

  • Josh

    Jeter…That guy’s got an Edge.

    • r.w.g.

      Classic. Are you sure you’re not a shortstop?

  • mryankee

    Is anyone else woried about this weekend? I have a very bad feeling with Angles coming in they are trouncing the red sox on the road and home. they have much better starting pitching matchups this weekend and they just added teixera. I foresee a very ugly 4 days let alone baltimore. I hate to say that because I love the Yankees but really we look kind of outmatched and outclassed against the angels and with boston playing the A’s we need to win these games. Consider the following garlandvpettite-maybe we have a shot here. Santanavponson(there is a likely loss for us) weaver v mussina(possible but I am not excited) and the laugher of them all lackey v rasner(no chance we win this game) again I hate to sound this way but there is no way a yankee team should be have rasner and ponson in the rotation. If getting washburn means giving up on a limp bat like gardner then lets do it because we have ajax and cabrera is just as good as gadner.

  • Old Ranger

    Jeters’ hand must have been hurt much more then he let on. Pitchers seem to be pitching him low and inside (below the hands/at the hands) a lot more. If one has trouble with ones hands…ouch! Also, if your bat is getting slow, you have a tendency of leading with your hands (to much).
    I don’t believe it is anything to do with age, more likely injuries. But, damm it Jete…stop hitting DP balls! 27/08?

  • steve (different one)

    jeter is fine. .302/.373/.441 since june 1st.

    he’s been hitting well for 2 months now.

    • dan

      stop being so reasonable

    • monkeypants

      Yes, thank you. He has been hitting close to the usual Jeter for weeks now, and his overall averages are slowly climbing up. He will probably not end up with a typical .850 OPS season. But another 15 points on his BA will probably translate into another 15 points in OBP and somewhat more in SLG. So, when his current .286/.348/.404 ends up around .300/.365/.425/.790 OPS, you have almost the exact same numbers as his age 28 season (1998). A weaker season by his standards, but still awfully good for a SS.

      By the way, his current numbers are still far better than the average SS this season, especially the SS in the AL.

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

    It’s simple… Jeter just needs some steroids. Bulk up, muhfucka!