By the Decade: Filling in for Derek Jeter


Yesterday afternoon, I launched our decade retrospective of the Yankees in the ’00s with a look at the catchers. Today, we continue with another position held by one player over ten seasons. That player is, of course, the captain, Derek Jeter, and short stop will be his, for better or worse, until he voluntarily gives it up or retires.

Derek Jeter 6062 1924 313 27 159 721 606 26 105 981 160 .317 .388 .457
Enrique Wilson 137 27 7 1 2 9 7 0 0 21 5 .197 .236 .307
Erick Almonte 103 27 6 0 1 11 8 0 1 25 3 .262 .321 .350
Miguel Cairo 66 10 2 0 0 3 4 0 0 11 2 .152 .200 .182
Ramiro Pena 52 19 5 1 1 6 2 0 0 9 0 .365 .389 .558
Wilson Betemit 41 11 2 0 2 13 2 0 0 16 1 .268 .302 .463
Alberto Gonzalez 33 6 2 0 0 2 3 0 0 4 3 .182 .250 .242
Cody Ransom 26 5 1 0 2 2 5 0 0 8 0 .192 .323 .462
Alfonso Soriano 22 5 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 0 .227 .227 .318
Luis Sojo 21 3 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 .143 .143 .238
Wilson Delgado 16 4 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2 1 .250 .250 .438
Felix Escalona 16 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 4 1 .125 .263 .125
Clay Bellinger 14 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 1 .071 .133 .071
Nick Green 12 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 .250 .250 .417
Rey Sanchez 11 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 .091 .167 .091
Mark Bellhorn 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .200 .200 .200
Alex Arias 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
Andy Cannizaro 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333
Alex Rodriguez 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .500 .667 .500
Jose Vizcaino 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 - - -
Totals 6648 2051 342 30 168 773 640 26 109 1102 178 .309 .374 .445

Any Yankee fan worth his or her salt knows that Derek Jeter was truly the short stop of the decade, but these numbers underscore the grip Jeter had on that spot. His at-bats constituted 91.5 percent of all Yankee short stop ABs over the last ten season, and without his contributions, Yankee short stops hit .216/.263/.322. It ain’t easy finding someone to back up Derek Jeter.

Now and then, though, the Yankees have had to find a replacement for Jeter. He played in 1500 games over the course of the decade out of the Yanks’ 1620 games and suffered through a long on the disabled list in 2003. And so instead of roasting Derek Jeter — we do that often enough — let’s instead take a look back at one of the guest short stops who had to fill for the injured captain.

2003-04-01-jeter-inside It was March 31, 2003, Opening Day in Toronto. In the third inning of the match-up between the Yankees and Blue Jays, Jeter was on first with one old and Jason Giambi up. The Blue Jays had deployed the Giambi Shift, and when the Yanks’ slugger grounded out to the pitcher, Jeter saw open space in front of him as he rounded second. Johnny Damon may have made it to third against the Phillies during the World Series, but in Toronto, catcher Ken Huckabee rushed to cover the open base.

What happened was gruesome. Jeter slid as Huckabee arrived to block third base. Derek’s left shoulder slammed into the catcher’s shin guards and was instantly dislocated. At first, we thought Jeter would be out for a long time, but he missed just six weeks of the season. Enter Erick Almonte.

In 2002, Baseball America had ranked Almonte as the Yanks’ eighth best prospect, and their write-up was a bit over the top. He was called ” chiseled athlete” with a “combination of size and tools…similar to Derek Jeter’s.” The write-up recommended the Yanks move Almonte to second or left. On April 2, 2003, the 25-year-old found himself in Toronto, filling in for an injured Jeter.

Almonte homered in his first game and handled himself adequately in Jeter’s absence. He hit .272/.337/.370 in 28 games, and the Yanks went 20-8 in those games. He was, however, atrocious in the field. For the season, he made 12 errors in 128 chances and showed little range. After 2003, he would never again appear in the Majors and has become a career Minor League. He spent 2009, his age 31 season, as an infielder with the Brewers’ AAA affiliate.

After that 2003 injury, Jeter wouldn’t miss significant time this decade. He missed a few games in 2001 with a strained quad and again in 2008 with a similar injury. He dove head-first into the stands on July 1, 2004, and A-Rod earned his first chance at the short stop hole in pinstripes. (For what it’s worth, A-Rod’s lost appearance at short was on June 5, 2005 when he took over for Rey Sanchez. Jeter simply had the day off.)

By and large, though, the fill-ins have been pretty forgettable. Enrique Wilson earned himself far too many at-bats and so did Miguel Cairo. The others paraded through, giving Derek a day off now and then while leaving no lasting impression. Who really remembers Felix Escalona anyway? But such are the trials and tribulations of those in charge of backing up a future Hall of Famer who hates to miss a game.

In the end, short stop has belonged to Jeter this decade. From the Flip in 2001 to a fifth World Series ring this year, Derek has owned that spot. For him, it was quite a decade, and Yankee fans can only hope for another decade of .850 OPS offense out of the short stop spot.

Categories : Analysis


  1. “Any Yankee fan worth his or her salt knew that Derek Jeter was truly the short stop of the decade [INSERT MASSIVE ASTERISK HERE], but these numbers underscore understand the grip Jeter has on that spot.”



  2. larryf says:

    Picking up from the last thread-DJ owns the first row in RF at YS for HR’s. Alex owns the first 10 rows. And where will Derek spend the next 5 years? All at short? How many SS’s play at a high level into their late 30′s??

  3. Rose says:

    Derek is so consistent…his batting average for the decade matches his career batting average…and his post season average is around there too…

    • Joe Morgan, is that you??

      But seriously, he’s the poster child for “it all evens out in the end.” The guy’s numbers just destroy arguments based on small sample sizes. I’m continually amazing how consistent he has been over the course of his career.

      • ROBTEN says:

        Jeter’s consistent consistency is consistently amazing.

        (Seriously, though, it’s hard to under-appreciate Jeter, but at the same time it’s always remarkable to see just how good he’s been.)

  4. tim randle says:

    this isnt about DJ…its about the traveshamockery that B-Cashman and Joe Girardi are perpa…perpe…conducting right now:

    I’ve only got one thing to say:

    Arod hits .500 in NY when he plays shortstop.

    oh, and none of you sabre-mathe-metrical-seenitwithmyeyes bastards have been ringing that bell either.

    i’m heartbroken.

  5. quick thing – im in chrome and the chart gets cut off between OBP and SLG…dont know if its just me who’s seeing that or what.


    /feels like an egocentric asshole
    //still won’t give up chrome

    • Sucks for Chrome :)

      We could add a disclaimer: River Ave. Blues is best viewed in FireFox or Safari.

      • radnom says:

        Chrome and Safari use the same rendering engine, so sites compatible with one shouldn’t be to bad with the other.

        artist – I see the same thing with chrome, just decrease your font size a bit and you can see the entire chart. Don’t give in to peer pressure – chrome is awsome, and will be ahead of Safari shortly. It seriously just loads everything so much more quickly.

  6. Salty Buggah says:

    Ignoring sample size, the best Yankees shortstops of the decade by OPS:

    Alex Rodriguez (1.167 OPS)
    Ramiro Pena (.947 OPS)
    Derek Jeter (.845 OPS)
    Cody Ransom (.785 OPS)
    Wilson Betemit (.765 OPS)

  7. Bo says:

    It won’t be easy replacing Jeter at SS when he switches to LF.

  8. Brett says:

    When did Arod play short stop, I do not at all remember that.

  9. Drew says:

    Damn Jetes owned the decade.

    Speaking of ss’s. Al is still one hr away from tying Cal for HR by a SS. Hopefully he gets to slide over to short for a game and knocks one out.

  10. Richard Deegan says:

    Gee, there’s yer DH: DJ & AR to DH, replaced by Ramiro for 25-30 games each; Jorge to DH replaced by Cervelli for 40-60 games, and outfielders for the rest.

  11. radnom says:

    Another boring position….wake me up when we get to second base, right field, left field or DH.

  12. vin says:

    Love the “By the Decade” series. Great way to kill time at work during the offseason.

    The Yankees had such great stalwarts the last decade (Jeter, Mo, Posada, Andy [I'll count him]). I wonder who will be there for them in the 2010′s. Tex, Joba, Phil, Jesus, Granderson, Cano??? Big shoes to fill.

  13. SamVa says:

    Just so we are clear..
    Betemit had he gotten the same amount of AB’s as Jete would have had about 295 home runs..
    We could have had so much more power had we not traded him.

    /relying on the stat’s’d

    • Actually, relying on the stats wouldn’t show that at all.

      • SamVa says:

        how so?
        6062 (jeter’s ab’s)/41 (Betemit’s ab’s)=147.85
        147.85=2 (number of homeruns in Betemit’s 41 ab’s)
        Give or take one..

        And I was really kidding.. I was trying to make fun of the people who see small sample sizes and take them as how it will always be..

        • Stats don’t mean simple extrapolation. You’d have to at least regress to the mean first. But even before that, you’d realize that it’s a worthless sample to perform even that function.

          Yes, I realize you’re kidding. But I just wanted to make clear that this is not at all what the stats would say.

        • SamVa says:

          = was supposed to be times****
          147.85*2= 295.7

  14. felixE says:

    Who really remembers Felix Escalona anyway?

    Damn you. No De Angelis Godo tickets for you chump.

  15. [...] Yankees by the Decade series continues today with a look at first base. After talking about the decade of Derek yesterday and Jorge’s time behind the dish on Wednesday. Today, we have an actual [...]

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