This is a guest post by Rebecca from This Purist Bleeds Pinstripes.
His .322 average leads all Yankees, and small sample size doesn’t apply — only one other player has amassed more plate appearances this season.
His .396 OBP is by far the highest among starters.
Okay, so the .456 slugging is comparatively low, and brings down his OPS, but Derek Jeter isn’t Derek Jeter because he hits for tremendous power.
Jeter’s 132 hits lead the Yankees, and only Robinson Canó, at 126, is anywhere close.
He’s stolen 19 bases and only been caught four times — the 19 are more than he stole in the entire years of 2007 and 2008.
We’ve been saying that 2009 has been a Jeterian Renaissance, but this is not just a Renaissance. This is the type of season that an MVP has, and in a league where no one’s doing anything Pujols-like, Jeter deserves some serious consideration.
It’s not just Jeter’s offensive numbers, either.
Jeter’s .984 fielding percentage is the best he’s had since 1998. 1998. There are three Yankees with a UZR that is positive — both center fielders and Jeter. Say what you want about UZR as a statistic, but the statistics bear it out: 2009 is one of Jeter’s best defensive seasons.
In a Major League career that started fifteen years ago, that says quite a bit.
Of course, there are the intangibles, too.
He’s batting a Cabrera-like (yes, I went there) .375/.435/.518/.953 in situations described as “Close and Late”, and his highest BA comes in games that have a difference of one run or less.
It’s kind of funny, right now, to think that at the beginning of the season we were, largely to a man, arguing that Jeter should bat lead-off to avoid grounding into so many double plays, as he seemed to do all of last year.
Some of us cast a wary eye towards 2010 — including 2009 Baseball Prospectus, which, in its write up argued that by the end of 2010 Jeter’s defense wouldn’t play in the infield and his bat wouldn’t play anywhere else.
I’m not quite sure anyone quite expected this.
By WAR, Jeter is the fifth best position player, and trails only Ben Zobrist (?!) in the American League in 2009.
The best part, of course, is that Jeter is doing all of this not just for a contending team, but for one that has one of the best records in all of baseball. Sure, the Angels have gone crazy again, but as of tonight, only the Dodgers have more wins than the Yankees.
So for all the muck about swinging at the first pitch, now would seem a good time to attempt to start to campaign for Jeter to get that MVP award….