Jul
26

Derek Jeter claims his place atop the lineup

By

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

While Derek Jeter rehabbed his strained calf, a contingency of Yankees fans realized their greatest desire. For about three weeks Brett Gardner hit in the leadoff spot, and as expected he handled it with aplomb. In that span, from June 14th through July 3rd, Gardner came to the plate 70 times and hit .267/.362/.383, stealing seven bases and scoring 13 runs. His combination of on-base skills and speed made him a better fit as the leadoff hitter than Jeter, who had a .324 OBP and had stolen just seven bases in his 293 PA before getting hurt.

Alas, we all knew that Jeter would resume his duties as leadoff hitter once he returned from the disabled list. As Joe Girardi, king of tautology, is fond of saying, “he’s our leadoff hitter.” Every day, it seemed, people questioned why Gardner wasn’t hitting atop the lineup. The answer to that question was also tautological: he’s Derek Jeter. It became pretty clear that Jeter would own the role for the rest of the season if not beyond, OBP be damned.

For now, that’s not such a bad thing. Jeter went 0 for 4 on his first day back, but then he started to see some of the hits fall in on his way to 3,000. It seemed as though he slowed down after that, but that might just be perception. In reality he has come back with a fury since returning from the DL, going 23 for 71 with six doubles, a triple, and two homers — .324/.385/.521. In other words, he has, at least for the last three weeks, earned his spot atop the lineup.

In fact, things have gotten quite better since a slow April, during which Jeter hit .250/.311/.272. In 268 PA since then he has hit .282/.347/.402. That’s not quite up to par with Gardner’s .316/.394/.418 since the same date, but it certainly paints Jeter’s season in a better light. They’re leaving some base runners on the table, and they’re definitely losing a bit in the speed department, but having Jeter atop the order isn’t quite the abomination it’s been made out to be.

Just after Jeter’s recorded his 3,000th hit, Girardi went on to defend the captain. “Is he hitting .320 like he did in 2009? No, he’s not. But are you convinced that he can’t hit .320 in the second half?” He still has a while to go in the second half, but so far Jeter has answered the bell. At one point I might have answered yes, I’m convinced that he can’t hit .320 in the second half. A sample of just 78 PA shouldn’t sway my opinion, but I can’t help but think back to that old tautology. He’s Derek Jeter.

Categories : Offense

110 Comments»

  1. CountryClub says:

    I mentioned this the other day, but the most impressive thing lately from Jeter is that he’s hitting the ball hard to right field.

    He has at least 7 hits to right over the past 4 games. And almost all of them have been hit with authority.

  2. Hester Prynne says:

    It just amazes me how people on here bury Jeter, bury Posada and back they come. Baseball is a long season. These guys are all time Yankee greats and they’ll be there when it counts.

  3. nsalem says:

    Plenty of other things to whine about for those who are so inclined.

  4. jon says:

    There would be nothing that makes me happier than when I no longer have to bitch about Jeter being at the top of the lineup.

  5. Adam Parker says:

    Thank you. El Capitan isn’t done yet.

    Keeping Gardner in the bottom half of our lineup is a good thing. Having real threats there gives us opportunities every inning to score.

    • jon says:

      I really dont care where gardner bats, as long as its in front of jeter so he can steal and avoid the GIDP

      1 jeter, 9 gardner

      1 gardner, 2 jeter

      • Cris Pengiuci says:

        Actually, of the regulars, only Swisher and Garner have batted into fewer DPs than Jeter. And since Gardner can’g hit after himself, it shouldn’t matter too much who hits before Jeter. Maybe Gardner has help Jeter’s GIDP stats, but I don’t know if you can do that analysis.

        • bexarama says:

          Jeter’s also batted leadoff most of the season so you’d hope he was GIDPing less than others. Is there a site/a way to figure out, like, GIDP%?

          (Fun fact, your AL/NL leaders in GIDP: Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols.)

        • Sayid J. says:

          Yea, as Bex said, 20-25% of Jeter’s at bats have come as the leadoff man at the start of the game. Don’t confuse yourself, Jeter is still a GIDP machine when given the chance.

  6. CP says:

    I think that Jeter would benefit greatly from playing a little less frequently. Let him rest 1-2 days a week, and I think he’ll be able to keep up his performance.

    • Cris Pengiuci says:

      I agree that regular days off would probably do him some good. With Chavez returning (and then ARod), Nunez should be used to spell him once or twice a week, especiially if it keeps him hitting over .300!

  7. According to Baseball Musing’s Lineup Analysis tool:

    Jeter-Gardner-Tex-ARod-Cano-Granderson-Swisher-Posada-Martin: 5.272 runs per game

    Gardner-Jeter-Tex-ARod-Cano-Granderson-Swisher-Posada-Martin: 5.279 runs per game

    Gardner-Granderson-Tex-ARod-Cano-Swisher-Jeter-Posada-Martin: 5.306 runs per game

    http://rlv.zcache.com/whatevs_.....go_400.jpg

    • I had a discussion on twitter recently, must have been sometime last week, about the idea that maybe looking at a Jeter/Gardner platoon in the leadoff spot doesn’t make as much sense as installing Gardner as the everyday leadoff hitter and then platooning Jeter/Granderson in the 2-spot in the lineup. I think the only change I’d make to what you proposed is that when Granderson hits second against RHP, Jeter’d probably be 6th instead of 7th (just because we can’t have Derek Jeter in the bottom third of the lineup, because he’s Derek Jeter and all that).

      Then again, it seems (maybe someone with some more time can look at the numbers on this) that Granderson’s been hitting LHP a bit better the last few games after his SSS slump against LHP, so it might be a moot point.

  8. Guns of the Navarone says:

    I think (especially for as long as A-Rod is out) that a Gardner/Jeter platoon should be employed at the leadoff spot.

  9. Cris Pengiuci says:

    He’s Derek Jeter

    No, he’s “Derek Fucking Jeter”.

    http://www.onionsportsnetwork......ing,19407/

    Glad he’s back to his old form, at least for now. I agree, a few games should convince us that all is well and that he’s a .320 hitter again, but if he can continue to be productive through the end of the season, I’ll be thrilled. We’ll worry about next year, next year.

  10. Rich in NJ says:

    I don’t think Jeter should bat leadoff v. RHP, but it’s not that big a deal this season. My greater concern is that Girardi is showing signs that he may be unwilling/unable to make decisions based solely on baseball considerations, which could be a bigger issue as Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeria and maybe even Mo continue to age over subsequent seasons.

    • CountryClub says:

      Unless Jeter stays hot the rest of the season, he wont be the leadoff hitter at the start of next yr (IMO).

      • Cris Pengiuci says:

        Yeah, but maybe your opinion and Joe Girardi’s are different.

      • I’ve got a dollar that says that Derek Jeter is still hitting either leadoff or #2 on Opening Day, 2012.

        • CountryClub says:

          Yes, I expect to see him bat #2.

          • Thomas says:

            I don’t know if they’ll move Granderson out of the two spot in the order, since Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Cano likely aren’t moving meaning Granderson would be down to number 6.

            I see
            Jeter
            Granderson
            Teixeira
            Rodriguez
            Cano
            Swisher
            Martin
            Montero/another DH
            Gardener

            • Rich in NJ says:

              Not to mention that Tex should not bat 3rd if his OBP remains at or close to .342…

              Which was my original point about Girardi. At some point, the current facts rather than rep need to govern lineup construction decisions.

              • Mike HC says:

                You gotta remember that Tex is a career second half hitter. There is a decent chance he will have the best post all star break numbers than anyone. I am a fan of Cano permanently moving into that 3 or 4 spot though.

                • Rich in NJ says:

                  That’s why I said “remains.” If he improves, fine. But if not, then that should be factored in because this is a player whose OBP was .383 just two seasons ago.

            • CountryClub says:

              Definitely possible. The one thing I doubt is Gardner hitting behind Montero. His speed would be hampered anytime Jesus gets on base in front of him.

            • Mike HC says:

              To me, it is pretty clear that against righties, Jeter should be hitting lower in the order. Partly because of his struggles, and mostly because of how good Gardner and Granderson are.

              • CountryClub says:

                I like Gardner a lot. But on offense he’s very streaky and his avg and OBP are ok but nothing special.

                • Mike HC says:

                  He obp’d .383 last year and is at .367 this year. Combine that with his insane speed and ability to see a ton of pitches, and you get an almost perfect lead off hitter.

    • David, Jr. says:

      This. Another example would be Soriano. “He’s my eighth inning guy”, better not be translating on the part of the rest of the team to “This inflexible idiot is costing us games by living on these guys jocks.”

      • 2009-present

        Reliever A: 152 appearances, 145.0 IP, 3.04/2.93/3.22 E/F/x, 3.56 tERA, 2.96 SIERA, 2.40 K/BB, .224 BAA
        Reliever B: 157 appearances, 153.0 IP, 2.71/2.88/3.51 E/F/x, 2.84 tERA, 2.93 SIERA, 3.25 K/BB, .186 BAA

        Reliever A is David Robertson. Reliever B is Rafael Soriano.

        Girardi is willing to give Soriano the benefit of the doubt that he can be a better reliever than David Robertson if given the chance, and I’m willing to give Girardi the benefit of the doubt that he’s right.

        That’s not an indictment of Robertson (whom we all know is awesome), it’s credit given to Soriano, who was one of the very best relievers in baseball in the recent past.

        • David, Jr. says:

          A reasonable position from you, as always, although one could also take the position that Soriano’s tenure with the Yankees could hold more weight than what he did in the past, along with the fact that a change would interrupt something good that Robertson has going.

          • although one could also take the position that Soriano’s tenure with the Yankees could hold more weight than what he did in the past,

            Letting the 15 innings he’s thrown in pinstripes (and possibly while hurt) outweigh the 395 innings that came before that seems pretty silly.

            • David, Jr. says:

              Not sure I agree:

              A – Doesn’t seem to have handled it in New York at all. On top of that, arm problems.

              B – Lights out.

              3-2 key game.

              “Here is the ball, A. You are my guy.”

              He hasn’t earned the position back at all. I would just say that is puts both Soriano and Joe in a position where it had better work.

  11. Pasqua says:

    All those who will now run to their computers to type, “See! Tod you! All the Jeter bashers were soooo annoying!” will, quickly, be considered just as annoying as the “Jeter bashers.” And, in that sense, don’t we ALL lose?

    • At least we can all agree on bashing Javy Vazquez.

    • bexarama says:

      Meh, I think all but the most delusional Jeter fans, who probably don’t post here, aren’t going to say he’s OMG BACK based on a SSS. I don’t think I’m a crazy delusional fan of his but it’s awesome that he’s producing really well, and it’ll be even nicer when comment sections on totally unrelated articles don’t devolve into random Jeter bashing.

      • Guns of the Navarone says:

        Yeah, that’s basically what I take from this… I’m happy he’s producing and on a hot streak. I don’t think it should “solidify” anything.

      • nsalem says:

        I think he will; produce as long as he stays healthy which is a big if at a) 37 and b) because of the intensity which he plays the game and c) the way he dives into pitches.

    • Guns of the Navarone says:

      We do all lose. We lose because his recent 17 game stretch of .324/.385/.521 will completely overshadow (in some people’s minds) the fact that he’s been very close to terrible for over a full season now.

      From May 9th, 2010 – to the end of the season:
      .262/.339/.348

      From March 31st, 2011 – June 13th:
      .260/.324/.324

      Those look somewhat similar, no? That’s a combined 898 PA.

      These past 17 games mean VERY little to me. I’m just happy he still has enough left in him to go on a hot streak… which is all this is. The sooner he gets moved from the top of the order the better. People need to understand that the Yankees will be a better team when this happens.

  12. Brandon says:

    Jeter has been hot lately, but how many times have we seen him not come through when we need him recently? Too many. Also the BA since he came back does not tell the whole story. Hes hitting .272 since he came back not counting the 5-5 game. .222 before .292 after because hes been hitting these past couple games.

  13. Mike HC says:

    I would bet against Jeter hitting .320 from here on out, but hopefully he has a good second half.

    In the beginning of the year, I do remember that you (Joe), predicted Jeter might get off to slow start before he starts picking it back up.

  14. Cris Pengiuci says:

    Joe can clearly see the future. Got any lottery number picks for us Joe? Maybe not this week’s numbers, but winning numbers for some time in Oct/Nov will do just fine! :-)

  15. Total says:

    Given how little lineup order actually affects run scoring, Girardi is exactly right to keep Jeter at the leadoff spot.

  16. Adam says:

    I think the Jeter bashing is even more deflating because of its larger insight into (much, though certainly not all) Yankee fandom. Sure this does of course exist elsewhere, for other teams. But it just rings as that much more annoying, spoiled and entitled, especially the more venomous comments. Also…you are cheering for a team 20 games over .500. Perspective, please.

  17. mike says:

    whether Jeter hits .260 or .320 is basically irrelevant if Tex and Arod arent producing to their historical norms, and probably is completely irrelevant if Arod isnt 100% when he returns

    • nsalem says:

      I think it’s what Colon, Garcia, Nova, Hughes and Burnett produce which will be the most relevant factor.

    • bexarama says:

      How is it irrelevant? Based on some comments I’ve seen the fact that Jeter was hitting so poorly before is the reason we’re not fifty games above .500 already.

      (But really, Tex and A-Rod are likely more important to the team, but if you’re going to claim the difference between Jeter pre-DL and post-DL, SSS that it is, is “completely irrelevant,” well.)

  18. Watcha Talkin' About, Willis? says:

    Umm, yeah, about that “Can’t even hit in the GCL” bit:

    http://web.minorleaguebaseball.....pid=605142

  19. Multiple Personalities says:

    Of the core three writers, Jo Po is by far the worst with the sentimental stuff…

    • Mike HC says:

      Kabak is a cold as ice Harvard lawyer.

      Axisa can get pretty emotional in the game threads.

      Joe has a pretty good balance I think.

    • YanksFan in MA says:

      There is nothing wrong with that. As long as it doesn’t revert to trying to get Melky back or waxing poetic about the clutch hitting of Miguel Cairo I think we can handle a little sentimentality in this cynical world of sports blogging.

    • CS Yankee says:

      Ahh, BS!

      They are 3-for-3 in calling it like it is…Mike pulls the heaviest load but they all produce great articles (quality wise) and totally leave out the homerism. The guest writers are a little more “fan based”, but it is all good.

      I wouldn’t accuse any of the of being Sterling or Kay.

  20. MikeD says:

    Rest Jeter once a week or so, and do it against a tougher righty, and/or day game after night game, or right before or after a day when the entire team is off, and rotate him into the DH slot every once in a while. He keeps himself in great shape and is still a young man by human standards, but not by professional athlete standards. He’s now 37 and playing a demanding postion. Well-timed and planned off days will benefit both Jeter and the Yankees.

    I’m pretty sure Jeter is not capable of hitting .300 anymore over the course of a season, but I’d like to believe he’s still got a .275/.350/.400 line in him.

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