Jeter’s hard work led to defensive improvement


While composing the ALDS preview, two things stood out. FIrst, that Joe Mauer got to 600 plate appearances despite missing almost a month. Second, that Derek Jeter had a positive UZR. He was at 5.3, fifth best among AL shortstops with at least 800 innings. Never before in his career had Jeter been in the black, though he came close in 2008. There are no complaints from the peanut gallery on this issue. We all saw Jeter play markedly improved defense this season.

I do not like Ian O’Connor. No one who disseminates his views about baseball to the masses should ever come close to thinking that the Yankees would better with Cody Ransom over A-Rod. It is, without a doubt, the dumbest thing written about baseball all year, possibly all decade. Worse, his newspaper removed the article from the Internet (but blogs lack accountability). So when I cite his recent column, you know there’s something good within. (With a hat tip to Neyer — I couldn’t find this on my own.)

We know Jeter’s defense has improved, and we know he has worked with a conditioning coach for the past two years so that he can stay at his first and only position for a few more years. O’Connor’s column goes a bit deeper into the role Jason Riley, the trainer. He noticed right away that Jeter was stronger and more flexible in his right hip than his left, “not uncommon for a ballplayer hitting and throwing from the right side.” This caught my eye because it seems so basic. It’s like doing curls with just one arm. It makes me wonder how many ballplayers neglect balance in their training.

A quote from Riley also caught my eye:

“We were re-coaching his first step, over and over. … I think he hated doing these drills at first, because it’s almost like reeducating a little kid. An accomplished athlete is like, ‘I don’t want to do this because it makes me look stupid.’ And then suddenly, Derek was killing those drills.”

That story reminds me of Shaq’s refusal to shoot free throws underhanded. Rick Barry, who made 90 percent of his career free throws, offered to teach Shaq, but the big man declined, saying it would hurt his image. Sometimes doing things better isn’t pretty. It probably wasn’t easy for Derek to stick with these basic drills. Then again, an audience of thousands wasn’t watching him at Athletes Compound.

Like most features on Derek Jeter, O’Connor’s is filled with praise — not only from the writer, but from Riley as well. It seems that anyone who meets Jeter can’t help but like him. It’s about the only depiction of him I’ve ever read.

One more training story, for the road:

“His work ethic is unbelievable. One day we’re doing crossover movements for base-stealing mechanics, and at the end of the workout he was close to getting it right, but not quite.

“I told him to shut it down for the day, but he said, ‘No, I can tell you’re not happy about it.’ We ended up doing another 10 or 15 sprints before I had to stop him for fear he’d injure himself.”

Derek Jeter is the kind of boy every girl dreams of. Good looking, smart, and funny. Yes, that’s Zack Morris Derek Jeter.

Categories : Defense


  1. pete c. says:

    Derek Jeter is awesome Joe, but the man crush is a little to obvious.

  2. jsbrendog says:

    so then minka kelly is kelly kapowski…..

    cashman is mr belding?
    would arod be ac slater?
    who is screech?

    the tough questions

  3. A.D. says:

    Interesting that something as basic as balancing workout could be missed by professionals.

  4. cr1 says:

    Motivation. From childhood he wanted only to be the Yankees’ SS, and he still wants it. Bad enough to start over from basics and remake himself in his mid-thirties.

  5. Isn’t it sadly ironic that the year Jeter could actually make a legit case for winning a Gold Glove he won’t because Everett, Andrus, and Izturis were just as good or better?

  6. Jon says:

    Jeter can knock balls down with his aura

  7. CountryClub says:

    Jeter is the man.

  8. Chris says:

    I think the line from that article is:

    “We discussed how we can keep him in the game as long as he wants to play,” said Jason Riley, director of performance of the Athletes Compound at Tampa’s Saddlebrook Resort. “Derek said it may not be eight to 10 years at shortstop, but that he wanted to play that long.

    I know a lot of people have worried about whether Jeter would be willing to move off SS, but it appears that he knows that move is inevitable. Of course, as long as he can remain slightly below average or better defensively then there is no reason to move him to another position where his bat won’t play as well.

  9. Nady Nation says:

    The MVP chant after Jeet’s HR last night was awesome. It also marked the first time I’ve taken part in a chant where I didn’t really support its sentiment.

  10. Jersey says:

    O’Connor’s past transgressions remain unforgiven. But, good column.

  11. Mike Pop says:

    Ian O’Connor and Jay Mohr man, ridiculous.

    Jeter’s season has just been amazing though, really earning his next contract. Damn you, Joe Mauer!

    /thinks about how he predicted Mauer for MVP in the predictions thread.

  12. Jake H says:

    Jeter has been great this year all around.

  13. jay destro says:

    Let me say one thing about last night being there and viewing the crowd. All the douchebags that left in the 7th inning should be ashamed of themselves. It’s a friggin playoff game, stay till the end.


    • Bob B. says:

      Yeah, I noticed that watching the game last night and was pretty disgusted. Playoff game and people are leaving in the 7th?!

      • Mike Pop says:

        True, being there and people were leaving… I was quite surprised. But, I’m sure many had valid reasons, so I can’t hold it against them.

      • ShuutoHeat says:

        A good amount were probably just bandwagon fans. You know, people who like Yankees cause all of a sudden it’s cool to like them. Or they like the Yankees because their team sucks *coughMETScough*

        People who left because of legit reasons, no beef.

        But those damn fake fans, should hand over their friggin tickets to real fans.

  14. JSquared says:

    The Definition of Determination is Derek Jeter, the Definition of Derek Jeter is Winner.

  15. Riddering says:

    I’d read comments about Jeter’s new workout but to have an article laying it out with information from the trainer himself is pretty neat.

    He’s the embodiment of ‘show don’t tell’. He doesn’t accept or discuss his weaknesses with the media but here we see him working on them in order to improve.

    /single perfect tear in admiration

    • whozat says:

      it also helps that no one ever asks him about his weaknesses.

      If he’d had to field questions every day from 2004-2007 about his awful range, I think he’d have done a bit more telling.

      • Riddering says:

        Jeter gets asked the same questions every other day from March through September/October and yet he doesn’t do any more telling.

        I don’t think he’d break that pattern to talk about himself and on topics he obviously doesn’t like to address.

  16. handtius says:

    I wonder if this training would work for Cano. He’s a great fielder but the #s say his range is in the neg. Jeter should drag his ass along next off season. Actually, why not bring the who infield, they could all use it, + johnny “old man” Damon.

  17. [...] surprising this season, though, was Derek Jeter’s uptick in fielding. Derek worked hard to improve his fielding in the offseason and it definitely payed off. Jeter posted his first positive UZR/150 season in 2009, when he [...]

  18. [...] surprising this season, though, was Derek Jeter’s uptick in fielding. Derek worked hard to improve his fielding in the offseason and it definitely payed off. Jeter posted his first positive UZR/150 season in 2009, when he [...]

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