What Went Right: Post-DL Derek Jeter

Press Conference Roundup: CC, Hughes, A-Rod, Teixeira, Posada, More
Kiss 'Em Goodbye: Laffey, Proctor, Valdes

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look back at what went right, what went wrong, and what went as expected during the 2011 campaign.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Earlier today we looked at the first half of Derek Jeter’s season, when he posted a measly .295 wOBA through the Yankees first 64 games before suffered a Grade I calf strain running out a fly ball. The injury was originally supposed to keep the Cap’n out for ten days, but it ended up shelving him for three weeks and 20 team games. Jeter rehabbed in Tampa and played in two minor league rehab games with Double-A Trenton before returning to the lineup on Independence Day.

Although that first game back against the Indians (the same team he hurt himself against) went poorly (0-for-4), the difference was noticeable the very next day. Jeter went 2-for-6 with a booming double the other way, and several of the outs were very hard hit line drives a well. Another double followed the next day. And then another the next game. And then came the fourth straight game with a double. In his sixth game back, Jeter took David Price deep for his 3,000th career hit, a no-doubt shot pulled to left. That was part of a 5-for-5 day. The time off seemed to do wonders, but it wasn’t just rest.

“Staying back,” said Jeter when asked what the difference was before and after the DL trip. “Stay back better and obviously you’re going to drive balls more. That’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve been back, so I just want it to continue. You can get a lot more work in when you don’t have to play games, so I sort of look at it as a blessing in disguise, I hope. I’ve felt good since I’ve been back.”

The results were stunning. Jeter was hitting the ball with authority after getting healthy, especially to the pull side, and the result was a .346/.393/.472 batting line in his first 38 games back. That’s not far off from the .334/.406/.465 batting line he posted during his MVP-caliber 2009 season. A sixth inning single against the Athletics on August 25th raised Jeter’s batting average to .300683, the first time he’d been over .300 since May 8th of last season, a span of 157 team games.

From the day he returned to the lineup through the end of the season, Jeter hit a remarkable .331/.384/.447 (.367 wOBA) in 314 plate appearances. His ground ball rate went from a 2010-esque 65.9% before the injury to 58.9% after, which is in line with the 57.6% grounder rate he posted from 2008-2009. The strong finished raised Derek’s overall season line to a very respectable .297/.355/.388, a .332 wOBA that ranked ninth among shortstops.

Whenever a player improves their performance after coming back from a DL stint, the vast majority of the time it’s just a matter of getting healthy. In Jeter’s case though, it was about taking advantage of the time off to work on some mechanical fixes, namely staying back on the ball so he can drive it with authority. Post-DL Derek Jeter was the Derek Jeter we’ve watched for the last 15 years, a dynamic force atop the order that hit for average, got on base, and would sneak up on pitchers with some power.

Press Conference Roundup: CC, Hughes, A-Rod, Teixeira, Posada, More
Kiss 'Em Goodbye: Laffey, Proctor, Valdes
  • dean

    Man I thought that ball he hit in Game 5 was gone….I just knew it was…..still stings

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      Same here, I jumped out of my seat the moment it left the bat, I thought it was gone for sure. To me that stings more than the Gardner and Martin pop ups in the 4th inning, and the A-Rod and Swisher strikeouts in the 7th just because Jeter was that close to giving the Yankees the lead.

    • JohnC

      That ball dying short of the wall told me it just wasn’t meant to be this year

  • http://bigleaguewiffleball.com/ Jon L.

    Jeter was much improved after his DL stint, which was a good thing for Yanks.

  • Cris Pengiucci

    .331/.384/.447 (.367 wOBA)

    Hope he can come close to that line next season ….

  • Kentucky Bomber

    Jeter’s 2nd half seemed to be one of surges and relapses. He’d look great for a few days then suddenly the grounders to short would appear again. What always seemed to revive him were the days off, whether from the sked (few and far between) or enforced by Girardi. He always seemed to come back refreshed from just one day off. If this pattern holds any weight I hope it will be noticed and enforced in 2012.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Nunez proved a capable back up (with a somewhat eratic arm) that did better defensively the more he played. He isn’t a complete black hole on the offensive side of the ledger either. This may give Girardi the confidence to enforce the rest Jeter seems to need to rejuvenate himself.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    IMO, Jeter’s time on the DL gave him the opt. to make changes with his Minor league hitting instructor but more importantly the rest factor. I believe Jeter and Arod can stay a force in the lineup if Girardi turns a deaf ear to Arod and Jeter bleeding for more playing time. They should play at most five days a week. Cano should be given at least one day off usually as DL with the 16 or 17 scheduled days off included. I firmly believe all positional players need more rest then given especially with travel situations considered. More pitching and a strong bench imperative this year.

  • http://www.twitter.com/james_dasilva James d.

    The Jeter resurgence reminded me how, even as I always admired, praised and savored the Jeter experience of 1996-2009, I still took that multi-hit wonder for granted. From about Aug. 1 on, I was checking the in-game box score (I’m not in the YES network or often home in the evenings) and expecting 2-3 hits again, like it was old times.

    For this highly rational fan, who’s probably lost much of the youthful exuberance of young fan-dom (though nobody’s to blame), the Jeter decline of 2010 to mid-2011 was still scary stuff. Just like I’ll never forget the Posada and A-Rod monster years of 2007, the Pettitte first half of 2010, and various other brilliant performances before the inevitable fall, the post-DL Jeter is going to be a favorite memory long after the last of my childhood favorites has become an old-timer.

    I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right?