Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Derek Jeter on a Roll

Watching the last forty Yankee games, there was a point when you had to start questioning whether Derek Jeter was finished as an elite player. Johnny Damon was carrying the team and Teixeira was scuffling a bit. The Yankees were floundering a bit and started winning just as A-Rod got back in the lineup. But more than A-Rod just coming back, he allowed Teixeira to get hot and it was his turn to carry the team. Derek Jeter? Well, he was batting in the .270s with an On Base Percentage in the .340s and just didn't seem to be contributing very much. But then you get the last eleven games and Derek Jeter has become a force again.

During the last eleven games, Jeter has gone 13 for 27 and has raised his average to just above his career level and sits at .319. He has walked six or seven times and his On Base Percentage is up in the .390s, exactly what you want from your leadoff batter. He's stealing more bases than last year (when he apparently had a bum wheel) and is scoring runs in bunches.

One thing has stood out watching all those games: Jeter seems to have found a little more range at shortstop. Let's face it, anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that Jeter is the Fan's favorite player. This writer is a baseball fan more than anything else and it's been a lifelong passion, just like the heading of the FanDome states. Derek Jeter has been everything this lifelong Fan has wanted in a player.

Truth to tell, Jeter is the kind of player that the Fan dreamed of being growing up. And as such, it has always hurt to hear Jeter's defense blasted right and left. It hurt because truth hurts. Jeter was always decent at balls hit in the hole between short and third. He had that patented leap throw that was always money. But he never got to anything up the middle (or to his left). The Fan has seen Jeter make several plays in the last week where he ranged far to the left and made an awkward, yet accurate throw to get the runner at first. It has been gratifying to watch.

Good major league players spend an entire career making adjustments. Jeter has made an adjustment to drive the ball with more authority this year and his homer rate and his Slugging Percentage are up. He has also worked on his agility which is showing up in his range. Those are the kinds of adjustments that Hall of Fame players make. And with milestones such as 2600 hits and 1500 runs in the books in the last week, Jeter is such a good major league player.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Part of the reason his home run rate and SLG is up, though, is that new ballpark.