Derek Jeter hitting the same, but different, than 2009

Yanks can't complete comeback, fall 5-4 to Tigers
Miranda recalled to add lefthanded thump
Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

The Yankees seemed poised for one of those late inning comebacks we grew so used to in 2009. Down 5-2 and facing the AL-best Detroit bullpen, the Yankees quickly loaded the bases with none out. Hope abounded when Marcus Thames grounded one just out of Adam Everett’s reach. Brett Gardner brought home a run on a chopper and reached safely himself (the Tigers took the out at second), leaving the Yanks with two opportunities to bring home the tying run. They did not capitalize.

While we can excuse Randy Winn’s pop up — no one expects much from him anyway — Derek Jeter‘s at-bat was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t so much because he made an out. Most major leaguers make outs in more than 3 out of 5 plate appearances. It was the heartbreaking way he made the out. He worked an excellent at-bat against Ryan Perry, running the count full. He got a fast fastball and did what he does best with that pitch. He drove it to right with authority. There was no doubt that Gardner would score and give the Yanks their first lead of the game. The only problem was that Magglio Ordonez made a sliding catch, killing the opportunity and leaving Jeter 0 for 5 at the plate.

That dropped Jeter’s numbers to .286/.324/.436, a .336 wOBA, which is certainly disappointing for the Captain after his stellar 2009 season. His performance last night prompted many comments regarding his production and his age. Jeter has still produced above average numbers, but we’ve come to expect more from him. We might get more, too. Apparently, many forget that just last season Jeter got off to a slow start, only to pick up the pace once the weather got warmer.

That line-out was Jeter’s 142nd plate appearance of the season, or about 20 percent of his season if he stays healthy. At this point last year he actually produced similar numbers. Through 30 games in 2009 he had 142 PA, same as this year. In that span he hit .266/.338/.406, a wOBA of around .350. That’s a bit better than last year, mainly because of his higher OBP. This year he’s walked a bit less, but has also hit for more power, which somewhat offset each other.

From his Game 31 through his game 153, Jeter hit .352/.423/.480 in 574 PA. He walked in 10.5 percent of his plate appearance during that span, compared to 8.5 percent through Game 30. His power did drop a bit, but Jeter has never relied on power. He hits singles the opposite way, draws walks and takes pitches. He hasn’t done much of the latter two so far this year, but as we saw last year, he can turn it around pretty quickly.

The beginning of 2010 has not looked pretty for Jeter. But, before we declare that he looks his age and that he’s slowing down, let’s remember what we were saying at this time last year. Jeter proved the naysayers wrong then, and I’m confident he’ll do it again this year.

Yanks can't complete comeback, fall 5-4 to Tigers
Miranda recalled to add lefthanded thump
  • larryf

    I don’t think Derek is declining. I would think that getting motivated for games in April and May with his long career may be a bit of a challenge and perhaps a mini-slump will give him the little push he needs. I know he is a double play waiting to happen with a runner on first but is there any value in flipping him with Gardner against righties and giving Bret a pitch or two to steal second?

    • CS Yankee

      If Gardner continues to bat around .300 while working the count, I hope that they do have him move to leadoff regardless of righty/lefty on the bump. Jeet should take a pitch and give Gardner a chance to be on 2B.

      We all know that Jeter had a couple of bad years getting into DP’s but overall he has excelled in the 2-spot. I like the 3-6 hitter setup and woundn’t change that routine, but would be good if they tried the following to set the table;

      Righties: Jeter, Grandy, etc. or Gardner, Jeter, etc.
      Lefties: gardner, Jeter, etc. or Jeter, Gardner, etc.

  • Hey ZZ

    He also got off to a slow start in 08.

    .298/.328/.371 through 30 games.

    • JGS

      and 2004:

      .186/.255/.264 through 30 games including an 0-32 skid

  • dark side of the goon

    Three out of the Core Four have sustained injuries this year. Yes the four of them are getting older. We Yankee fans have to come to terms with that. Mo, Po, Pettite and the Captain are not going to last forever. Although I hate the phrase, we have come to see what the “world without Mariano” looks like.

    I swing between trying to get used to the decline of these 4 and wanting to give them all a free pass no matter what they do. They all have the goodwill of Yankee fans forever.

    I don’t know if anyone can ever be objective about Jeter and still be a die-hard Yankee fan. We all expect him to come back and produce every single year. This is a contract year for him but unlike most players in their contract year, Jeter could just stand at the plate and sit in the infield and he’s still getting a fat payday at the end of the year. We all know that.

    Derek Jeter also says nothing in interviews. Even when he’s talking he’s not saying anything so who could guess what he’s thinking or if he’s working harder or making adjustments. He does say it’s a long season and perhaps he is trying to stay off the Core Four injury list. Who knows?

    Will Derek bounce back? We all think he will and all hope for the best. I can’t imagine Derek Jeter in steep decline though that time, like the “world without Mariano” might be a reality that Yankee fans just have to deal with whether they like it or not.

  • Mike Axisa

    Jeter’s hitting way more GB than he ever did before (69.2% in 2010, 56.2% career), and he’s seeing about half a pitcher per plate appearances fewer this year than the last couple of years. Hopefully he snaps out of it soon.

    • Moshe Mandel

      I’m searching my blog archives for reference to it, but Im actually pretty sure that this was what plagued Jeter in the first half of 2009 as well.

  • CT Yankee

    On may 2nd he was hitting 333/367/510

  • Alvaro Espinoza

    Edited by RAB. Talk about off-topic comments…

  • YankeeScribe

    Not worried about Jeter or ARod declining but I do think it’s time for Posada to begin to start more games at DH.

  • The Captain’s Blog

    Jeter’s problem is he is swinging at pitches out of the strike zone at an alarming rate. As a result, he isn’t making as good contact. I’ve broken down the numbers in the link below. It’s based on only a month, but is still cause for concern.

  • EndLessMikeJr

    Let’s remember Jorge Posada in 2007.He had a great year in he’s last year of he’s contract.He was 36 and played a tougher position then Jeter and had a great offense year and he got a contract we kinda knew he wouldn’t live up to.

    Jeter is a great popular player but will cause headaches if we give him anywhere near more then 4 years.And he’s ego will really show when he refuses to leave the shortstop position.

    • CountryClub

      A HOF player with an ego. What a shock.

    • Chris

      Posada had one bad season because of a shoulder injury. This year (and last year) he’s basically matched his career numbers. It’s fine if you think he was overpaid in his last contract, but he hasn’t shown any significant signs of decline. He’s always been a great offensive and poor defensive catcher, and that’s what he still is.

      As for Jeter, why should he leave SS when he’s above average defensively? His bat won’t play nearly as well at any other position, so the only reason for him to move is if he’s a liability defensively. That was a significant concern up through 2007, but he spent time working on his defense and has been an average defender over the last 2+ seasons.

  • bexarama

    I can’t kill Derek for last night because I felt that he was working the count quite a bit for once and he smoked the ball several times, just right at people. Bad luck? Good scouting reports? I don’t know.

    Has his overall approach been a little annoying? Yep. But like you said, he started off 2009 similarly.

    • YankeeScribe

      Jeter hit the ball hard but Magglio made a great catch. Sh*t happens

  • CountryClub

    He hit 2 liners last night that got caught. Sh*t happens.

  • LeftyLarry

    Jete is thinking long term contract for big bucks again, in a down market.
    He’s swinging more for the fences, not working any counts (not that he always does that anyway) and is thinking 200 hits and 20 HR’s, instead of winning only, as he usually does.
    Not suggesting he isn’t his usual team first player, just suggesting he has more at stake than usuall in his numbers and he isn’t hitting as smart as he in prior years.I don’t see him advancing runners and giving himself up, just trying to drive the ball.
    He’ll figure it out and go back to what makes him great.

    • Stryker


    • Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)


    • CS Yankee

      This is based upon…what????

      Dude was three-thirty-something like a week ago. Have you ever had a bad, unlucky, or weird week?

    • The Captain’s Blog

      I am sure people will jump all over this comment, but that thought has crossed my mind too. Jeter has never really played in a contract year, so maybe it is weighing on him, at least subconsciously? Maybe he is feeling pressure to put up counting stats? There has to be a reason why he is swinging at 33.6% of pitches out of the strike zone. That really is an alarming rate.

    • Rick in Boston

      Yeah…no. If he was swinging for the fences, he’d be popping up the ball. As Mike pointed out above, he’s hitting the ball on the ground a lot more.

    • Bogart

      If I were you, I’d get a patent right away on that mind-reading device of yours. Any idea how valuable that thing could be?

      • Thomas

        Excellent comment.

    • SK

      lol this is derek jeter we’re talking about. Mr. Calm under pressure. He’s not A-rod who will get stuck on hr 599 forever because thats all he can think about is hitting one more. or when soriano could have joined the 40 hr 40 steals club by hitting a hr in one of his last few games but choking

      dj = immortal

      • Zack

        “He’s not A-rod who will get stuck on hr 599 forever because thats all he can think about is hitting one more.”

        Because Jeter wasnt stuck 1 hit behind the Yankees all-time hits record for a little bit right?

        • Zack

          Or I should say; he wasnt 0-12 when he a few hits away from the record

      • bexarama

        not being able to hit home runs at will =/= choking

        Also, as Zack said, he had an 0-for-12 stretch last season, I believe, right before tying and passing Lou Gehrig.

      • Riddering

        That’s not how baseball works.

    • Zack

      “I don’t see him advancing runners and giving himself up”
      Nor should he.

      Let Pena, Cervelli, Winn and Gardnergive themself up. I like my career .317/.387/.458 swinging the damn bat.

  • theyankeewarrior

    We’re still in SSS territory here. Just in the last 2 games, Jeet has lined out 4 times to CF/RF. I’m also not worried about him working the count. That is something that he can simply start choosing to do, or be coached to do if it will help the team.

    What I am concerned about is the above-mentioned statistics about swinging at balls out of the zone and all the ground balls he is hitting thus far.

    Even to the naked eye, Jeter is grounding out to shortstop at alarming rates. It seems like he hits at least one or two choppers there every game.

    At this point, I think it’s too early to raise an eyebrow. Lets re-assess come July.

    • The Captain’s Blog

      Jeter has never been a guy who worked the count for the sake of taking pitches. Jeter’s approach has always been to take balls and swing at strikes. That’s not rocket science, but it’s what makes him a good hitter. This year, however, he is almost swinging at twice as many pitches out of the zone as ever before. What’s worse, his LD rate is way down. In other words, by going out of the zone, he isn’t making as much quality contact. SSS may be the reason, but it’s May now and the trend has not abated. The only other time Jeter came near his current swing/contact rates was 2008, and that was perhaps his worst season.

  • Sizeole

    I was dying for Girardi to try to sqeeze that run home in the 8th. Cervelli at third, Winn at the plate, lefty on the mound. 2-0 count, I was screaming for a squeeze. Even if it didn’t work (which it would have) it would have been fun to see.

    • larryf

      Would have been easier with Pena to squeeze but that idea got shot down by all the experts here…

  • Rose

    I was arguing about this with Ben in the off-topic section a little while back.

    Axisa touched upon his high ground ball percentage (69.2%). His flyball percentage is over 4% lower than in 2009 but the line drive percentage of 12.5% is nearly HALF of what it was in 2009.

    It seems as though half of those line drives he used to hit, he’s now rolling over and hitting for ground balls.

    Jeter has been pretty bad the past 5 games (which is when we need him to pick it up more than ever with all the injuries right around this time). His line is .136/.208/.182 (.390) over the past 5 games. With 5 K’s and only 1 BB. Very un-Jeter-like.

    On the road this year he’s batting .224/.272/.271 (.542) compared to his .396/.420/.729 (1.149) at home. But take under consideration that he’s had nearly double the plate appearances on the road thus far.

    Is he hurt? Is he fatigued? Is he just getting old?

    I don’t see his line of the past 5 days or the line on the road continuing but it may be close to the end of the Derek Jeter we have been used to…then again…it may not be.

  • Eli

    Jeter isn’t waiting for a good ball, he’s hacking. last night he went 0-5. At least this site acknowledges somethings not right. He may be tired, but he rarely hits his 1st at bat, he’s an automatic out.

  • Marc

    Because Jeter is so well liked, people give him slack. He is the Captain of GDIP or force out. I’m afraid he has to stay as lead off, because he’ll take a player on base out with him. Cashman needs to really consider signing the older players to long contracts. Mariano is the exception proving himself still top notch, and worth the risk.

    Whenever Posada is away for awhile, the chemistry is different when he comes back. They usually lose a few, so far it’s 2. Last year was no different, remember the heat he got about AJ, and himself non working well together?

  • Riddering

    While I understand the major point of this post, calling Jeter’s final AB last night a disappointment and using it as a launching pad to make the point about his offensive production is silly. His line out wasn’t the type of hit that you except to be snared. It was the kind of unexpected catch that makes you tip your cap or beat your head against the wall and realize it just wasn’t the Yankees’ game.

    As for Jeter: expecting him to recreate 2009 is unreasonable. A shortstop over 35 isn’t going to duplicate his MVP-type seasons with regularity. He’s still going to be an asset and I expect him to improve as the season goes but neither fans nor the team can rely on him to be such a lynchpin of the offense anymore. Guys like Cano, Swisher, Teixeira, and Granderson as well as (hopefully) the continued beastliness of A-Rod’s bat are there to step in as the new/reliable bats. (And then there’s Jesus…)

    So, while I appreciate the sentiment in looking at what Jeter is doing at the plate recently and how it is affecting his production, it seems that he was made the scapegoat for the game in this post when 3.59 times out of ten that ball lands and the tying run scores. Yes, we expect more from Jeter than Winn. But we also expect more Swisher, Teixeira, and A-Rod than striking out consecutively.

    • CS Yankee

      Great post!

      Career wise, you mean that 3.59 times out of ten any Jeter ball batted, right? From what it sounds like, 9.5 times out of ten that liner (in the 8th) lands, except that RF was positioned real well and a great play was made.

      Also, I recall when Jeter was hitting three-thirty-something a week ago people were commenting that was because it was his role as leadoff hitter, his walk year, etc. A bad/unlucky/weird week all of sudden makes him a declining 35 yr old SS doing desperate things to get another fat contract? These boys need to chill out and put the nooses away.

      Bottom line, if Jeter continues to hit .286 (2010 YTD)for the next 5 years, that will be (way under his .316 career line) good enough to be a upper-mlb worthy shortstop.

  • larryf

    I still think if things continue, I would lead off Gardner who takes pitches and, when he gets on, have Derek take a strike and let Gardner steal. If he gets thrown out to end an inning Derek leads off (other than the first inning). Heck, Derek could ground out to short weakly as he often does and Gardner could take third on the throw to first!

    As for Jorge catching, I would like to see him DH more as well…

  • jeter0490

    Jeter needs to be moved back to the number 2 hole. the reason why it worked last year was because they had johnny damon and that is why it worked. Move a guy who takes a lot of pitches like swisher up front