By the Decade: Filling in for Derek Jeter

A-Rod will definitely avoid second hip surgery
Open Thread: Team of the Decade

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.


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.

A-Rod will definitely avoid second hip surgery
Open Thread: Team of the Decade
  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    “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.”



    • Neil B.

      Explanation please?

      Just taking exception to “decade” referring to 2000-2009 instead of 2001-2010?

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        The shortstop of the decade spent 40% of his decade at SS, and 60% of his decade at 3B. And, not because he wasn’t good enough to play SS.

        Think about it.

        • Neil B.

          Oh – that guy. Kinda forgot about him.

          Should be interesting when the “third baseman of the decade debate” comes up.

        • Bo

          A-Rod made the great move moving to 3b when he did. He got to the position he was eventually going to play anyway. He outgrew the position and probably saved his body the wear and tear of playing SS. Esp now after the hip injury. He’d never be able to play short.

          • Steve H

            A-Rod doesn’t need a full 10 years at SS to eclipse Jeter. 6 or 7 years at SS would have done it, and A-Rod clearly could have played SS for at least 3 more years.

        • Steve H

          And he went .500/.667/.500 at SS…….for the Yankees.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada


          • Jordan – Anybody But Melky 2010

            4 PAs.

            • KayGee


              • ROBTEN

                LOUD NOISES!

    • Riddering

      Out of context, you could say that. But in this post Ben is looking back at the Yankee players who played at short stop on the Yankees for the past decade.

      Your massive asterisk holds no sway over the production and numbers in reality for the Yankees.

  • larryf

    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??

    • Benjamin Kabak

      None really. Derek’s the oldest short stop to win a World Series in over 50 years.

    • A.D.

      None really do, but not that many SS play at this high a level for their 20s or early 30s.

  • Rose

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

    • Benjamin Kabak

      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

        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.)

  • tim randle

    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.

    • Zack

      I’ve only got one thing to add:
      ARod @ SS for Yankees: 2 AB, 1H, 1BB

      • tim randle

        i dont know what those fancy stats are, but i’m telling you, Arod bats .500.

  • the artist formerly known as (sic)

    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

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Sucks for Chrome :)

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

      • radnom

        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.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          I’m on board the Chrome wagon just as soon as the OS X version supports extensions. Should be soon.

          • radnom

            Nice. The extensions are not very extensive yet, like with FF, but that is rapidly changing.

          • whozat

            It already does in the dev builds. I can’t live without flashblock.

  • Salty Buggah

    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)

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I’m convinced.

      Move ARod to LF and Jeter to DH. Let Damon and Nick sign elsewhere. Make Ramiro Peña the starting shortstop.

      The numbers don’t lie. This is gonna be AWESOME.

      • Salty Buggah

        What about 3B? Or does A-Rod play both LF and 3B because he’s so awesome? I can see it now, Alex fields a grounder in LF and throws to 1st to get the runner. Make him earn that contract!!!

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          I’m thinking we should bring back Berroa and Ransom and let them fight it out for 3B in camp.

          They helped us win it all last year, after all.

          • Joseph Pawlikowski
            • Salty Buggah

              And the Phillies signed Cody Ransom too. Freakin Cashman

              • vin

                One man’s trash is another man’s box jumper.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              I’m gonna laugh when the Dodgers have Mientkiewicz, Berroa, Chien Ming Wang, and Josh Towers all getting playing time in a meaningless September 2010 game.

              I hope they sign Xavier Nady and Shelley Duncan to add some OF depth, perhaps Jerry Hairston and Eric Hinske for the IF. Bring back Jeff Weaver to shore up the bullpen.

              Maybe the two PTBNL’s in the Juan Pierre trade can be Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez.

              • radnom

                At least they are moving up in the world.

                It was only a few short years ago that the Dodgers were the cast-off point for old, discarded Red Soxs.

          • Salty Buggah

            Or we resign Jose Molina. He did play 3B this year for the Yanks…

            And he could always catcher in emergencies.

    • Dan

      i love subbing Arod at short when jeters tired in MLB The Show.

  • Bo

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

    • Salty Buggah

      Hanley Ramirez!!!

  • Brett

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

  • Drew

    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.

  • Richard Deegan

    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.

    • Drew

      Or we can just get a DH and give our players a full day off when they need it. This isn’t the forum for that though.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      40-60 games of Cervelli I don’t like, but I can accept as an unavoidable part of baseball.

      50-60 games of Ramiro Peña… that I will not accept. That is unnecessary and capricious.

      • Steve H


  • radnom

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

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      You’ll take what you’re given and like it, radnom.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Boring=easy to do the table. For the others, I think I’m going with a baseline minimum of 10 games played at the position over the decade. Just wait until we get to the 62 pitchers who all made at least one start for the Yanks this decade.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Just wait until we get to the 62 pitchers who all made at least one start for the Yanks this decade.

        (reaches for bottle of Maalox)

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Don’t you mean Rolaids? That is, after all, how to spell relief.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            Good catch, Ben.

            Rawlings, Inc.

          • Spaceman.Spiff

            Funny, some people spell relief J-O-B-A.

            • ROBTEN

              Is this one of those people?

              • Spaceman.Spiff


        • ROBTEN

          Everyone is gonna be stunned when the best starter of the decade turns out to be…

          Scott Proctor

          Runner Up:

          Brian Bruney, who had better numbers in the same era, but just couldn’t will his team to win.

      • tim randle

        please rank them by some narrowly-known highly-advanced sabremetric just for the sss fun of it :)

  • vin

    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.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I wonder who will be there for them in the 2010’s.
      C: Jesus Montero
      1B: Tex
      2B: Cano
      SS: Derek Jeter, then Hanley Ramirez
      3B: ARod, then Ryan Zimmerman
      LF: Curtis Granderson
      CF: Slade Heathcott
      RF: Justin Upton
      DH: LeBron James
      SP: King Felix
      SP: Joba
      SP: Hughes
      SP: Brett Favre
      SP: Pat White
      Closer: Mariano Rivera (all decade long)
      Second closer (for the nights Mo takes off): Melvin Croussett
      Designated MVP: Nick Swisher

      • vin

        I can live with that.

        I’m not so sure about LBJ… he might come off a little too Cody Ransom-ish. I like my DH’s to have bad knees and minimal athleticism.

        • pete

          i like ’em in steep decline

      • SamVa

        I just don’t see Montero at C, you need to be more realistic

        • Joseph Pawlikowski

          Just because you don’t see Montero at C doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

          • SamVa

            once again… kidding?
            He has LBJ as the DH…

            • Joseph Pawlikowski

              Wow. I just got that joke. Dense is me.

              Sorry. I’ll just move along now…

              • SamVa

                ha no worries, it’s pretty hard to distinguish who is serious and who is kidding by reading the text.
                I bet LBJ would be a pretty good DH though.. he’s a heck of an athlete.

                • vin

                  I just wrote a lengthy response to why Montero can succeed behind the plate. Glad I refreshed before hitting “add comment.”

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          You don’t see Montero at C, but you have no problem with LeBron James, Brett Favre, or Pat White?

          Montero’s where I need to be “more realistic”?

          • SamVa


            good lord I will never post again

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Meh, just make the sarcasm blatant. Subtle jokes don’t do well in print.

      • Spaceman.Spiff

        I would give up Montero, Joba, Hughes, Cano, and anyone short of Melvin Croussett to have Upton for the next decade.

      • thurdonpaul

        & Mo jr. for the next 2 decades after Mo sr. retires :)

    • DP

      Imagine how much time it kills for the guys doing it!

  • SamVa

    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

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

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

      • SamVa

        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..

        • Joseph Pawlikowski

          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

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

  • felixE

    Who really remembers Felix Escalona anyway?

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

  • Pingback: By the Decade: Tino and the Giambino | River Avenue Blues