Feb
11

Derek Jeter has more power to right than Albert Pujols

By

For Derek Jeter, taking the ball to right field is an art. Even as I write this sentence, three months removed from live baseball, I can picture the swing. Jeter takes his stride, closes his shoulders, extends his arms, and slaps an outside pitch between the first and second basemen for a single. Sometimes he pokes it down the line for a double. Other times he gets a pitch that catches too much of the plate and he sends it over the short porch in right. No matter the result it still looks pretty, even most of the outs.


Can you guess what this is a picture of?

Thanks to FanGraphs splits, we can see exactly how good Derek Jeter is on balls hit to right field. It comes as no surprise that in 2009 he was excellent. He put 164 balls in play to right field, dunking in 46 for singles, slapping 11 doubles and a triple, and hitting 12 home runs (which, as a reminder, do not count as ball in play). That’s a .398 batting average. Moreover, it’s a .676 SLG, adding up to a .278 ISO and a 1.074 OPS. Those are pretty excellent marks, especially for a right-handed hitter going the opposite way. It made me wonder how other right-handed hitters fared.

The first name that came to mind, of course, was Albert Pujols. He’s been the best player in baseball for a few years now, so I assumed that this resulted from his ability to hit to all fields. Yet, after checking the numbers I was a bit surprised. Yes, Pujols demonstrates power to all fields, and he does hit the ball to left better than right. That’s to be expected. But on ball hit to right field he’s no match for the mighty Jeter. Pujols has a .305 BA against a .537 SLG for an ISO of .232. That’s good, but it’s not Jeter. For our purposes, we’ll conveniently ignore the vast discrepancy in their pull numbers.

What about other prolific righty sluggers? Mark Reynolds of the Diamondbacks posted a .260/.349/.543 line overall, good for a .284 ISO. To right field he posted a .333 BA and a .611 SLG, a .278 ISO that matches Jeter’s. I’d still hand Jeter the edge here 1) because of his BA and 2) because he did it in nearly twice the opportunities — Reynolds had only 91 plate appearances in which he put a ball into right field, while Jeter had 176.

Derrek Lee of the Cubs had a resurgent year, hitting .306/.393/.579 for an ISO of .273. He did demonstrate more power to right than Jeter, posting a .284 ISO in 112 attempts. His batting average fell far below Jeter’s though, at .275. In terms of power, sure, he outhit Jeter. But in terms of overall proficiency, it’s all Derek.

Surprisingly, Jason Bay demonstrated good power to right field in 2009. As a right-handed hitter playing half his games at Fenway, clearly he posted better numbers to left field — a .466 ISO, which is nearly, but not quite, Pujolsian. He also posted a .262 ISO to right field, which lags behind Jeter a bit. Like most other hitters, Bay’s batting average to right wasn’t quite up to par, either, at .262, and he also had only 61 plate appearances in which he hit a ball to right field.

You know who killed the ball to right field? Nelson Cruz. He had 80 plate appearances where he hit a ball to right, and posted a .291 batting average and .646 SLG for a .354 ISO. The power came almost exclusively off home runs, as he hit nine to right. His only other extra base hit was a double. But, again, his sample was less than half of Jeter’s.

Among the more important points here is the ability to frequently take the ball the other way. It’s one thing that Jeter posts monstrous rate stats when hitting the ball to the opposite field. It’s quite another that he does it so often. He actually hit four more balls to right last season than he did to left. It makes me wonder why pitchers continue to work him outside.

To end this on a further high note, Jeter’s career numbers when hitting the ball to right field: .373 BA, .954 OPS, .211 ISO. Pretty damn impressive over a 14-year career.

Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Categories : Offense

49 Comments»

  1. Brian says:

    Great post, but these pictures of fat women are killing me. Can’t we find a new RAB advertiser?

    • larryf says:

      Derek goes to right and you should too when looking at the ad….

    • 1) This is completely off-topic.

      2) Are you willing to compensate us to the level of this advertiser?

      • radnom says:

        Just some advice, but if you always take that attitude people are going to start blocking them. Personally, I turn off my adblocking software for site I want to support (like RAB), but if the ads ever became obtrusive it wouldn’t matter how much I like the site, they would be blocked.

        That said, I don’t think these ads are bad and they are on every site these days. Nothing wrong with a few fatties.

        • Out of curiosity: If you use adblocking software (I don’t), do you not see anything in the little squares where the ads are?

          And does your use of this actually mean RAB doesn’t get the money for your pageview? I assume web ad money is linked to pageviews.

          • radnom says:


            Out of curiosity: If you use adblocking software (I don’t), do you not see anything in the little squares where the ads are?

            Depends on the site, but usually it renders it as if the ads were never there (there would not be a blank square). Again, that works better on some sites than others.


            And does your use of this actually mean RAB doesn’t get the money for your pageview? I assume web ad money is linked to pageviews.

            This I’m less sure of, and I’m sure different advertisers operate differently, but the advertiser does not have access to accurate pageview numbers for RAB. For pageview based ad services, compensation depends on how often the ad is loaded on the site, which is negatively affected by adblocking software.

            • Gracias.

              So, as an advocate of more free shit for me, I should be firmly against adblocking software as it decreases content provider revenue and will likely result in an eventual cost-shift from advertiser to consumer.

              • radnom says:

                I hear you on that, but with the massive amount of autoplay sound and video/flashing/popup ads these days I find it safer to just unblock the sites I use frequently and don’t abuse the ads.

                Sort of like how I justify downloading music. Yes its stealing, but whatever I’m not going to actually buy all these CDs.

                • Brian says:

                  I apologize for the off-topic comment that started this discussion. I love this site so much that I’m willing to stare at a 400 pound woman’s stomach profile just to read it.

          • whozat says:

            depends on how you block the ad, and depends on the type of ad. Payment on some classes of ads are linked to clickthrough rate, some are linked merely to views. Some adblocking software downloads the content and doesn’t display it, some blocks the download altogether. The latter would, presumably, cause the site owner to not get any money. The former…I doubt that the ad vendor can do much to tell whether the ad was actually rendered and shown to your eyeballs.

            /Googler

            • radnom says:

              I wonder why anyone would want to use the former type of adblocking software? Not only do you remain open to security breaches from nefarious ads, but it slows you down. If you’re not going to see it anyway, why bother?

        • I appreciate the input, and further appreciate you turning off your ad-blocker for the site. We’ve worked to keep obtrusive ads off the site. I believe, but could be mistaken, that you helped us out on that front a few months ago. Flashing and talking ads we take care of as best we can.

          Removing the said fatty ad would cost us some serious money. I don’t want it there. None of us do. But we also would like some form of compensation for our efforts. The online ad market sucks, and we’re just doing what we can.

    • pat says:

      Blame JMK. He’s the one always clicking on the “Before” picture hoping for more where that one came from.

  2. steve s says:

    Give credit to Sterling for adding the description of this phenomena (the Jeterian Swing) to the basball lexicon.

  3. Justin R. says:

    I can’t wait for the season to start just to see how many games start with a Jeter base hit and Nicky J walk to kick things off with a two on, no out situation for Tex and A-Rod.

    April seems so far away…

  4. Nick says:

    Are you saying Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?

  5. Mike Bk says:

    Joe,
    good piece. one question about the stats at the end is it a career .954 OPS or a different slg because it would impossible for him to have slugged .954 to right for his career.

  6. A.D. says:

    Crazy how much power he generates to the opposite field

  7. pat says:

    I’ve always wondered why stadiums are so anti-pepper.

  8. bexarama says:

    Jeter’s HR in Game 1 of the ALDS was a thing of great beauty. (happy sigh) And dammit, I was just gonna guess it was the Maier home run!

  9. Jay says:

    Good article, Joseph. It made me think of a former Yankee who was a good opposite-field hitter: Mike Stanley.

    Out of curiosity, would you know his career stats to RF?

    Thanks in advance and keep up the good work.

  10. d-ness says:

    There is just one thing I take issue with when titling a column such as this. I think it is important to realize that numbers cannot represent a player’s overall abilities, characteristics and qualities fully. Agreed, Derek Jeter sees results that represent more power to right field. He also has 16 fewer feet to hit a home run in his home stadium, where nearly half of his at bats will take place.

    I would contend that Derek Jeter does not “have more power” to right field than Albert Pujols, but in fact hits for better numbers, slugs better, and has a better batting average. He has better success. I take issue with the way statistics are used to represent qualities that cannot possibly be represented accurately. Albert Pujols, without a doubt, can hit the ball further to any field than Derek Jeter can. Therefore he “has more POWER” to any field than Derek Jeter does. I just think when professional writers choose their words (see New York Post, Fox News, Al Jazeera, local news outfits for how NOT to choose words), they should use a bit more tact when representing statistics. Say Derek Jeter has better power numbers to right field than Albert Pujols. Don’t say he has more power.

    On that note, I love Jeter, and the Yankees, and read RAB religiously, but I gotta take issue with the wording. Sorry.

  11. Chip says:

    I thought I saw something this year about how Jeter and Cano lead the league in opposite field hits this year? It seemed like Cano had the whole line drive into the opposite gap figured out this year.

  12. [...] now know, thanks to FanGraphs splits, that Derek Jeter posted better power numbers to right than Albert Pujols. In fact, he posted better numbers to right field than almost any right handed hitter I could find. [...]

  13. [...] their career slugging numbers from the left side. Combined with the raw power of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter’s excellent power numbers to right, the team was not only built for its home park, but was also well-rounded enough to succeed on the [...]

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