Derek Jeter’s Home Cooking

Derek Jeter‘s resurgent year has been well chronicled. He excelled in pretty much every facet at the game, posting a 142 wRC+ and a well above average UZR. Overall, at 7.4 WAR, he was simply one of the best players in the game.

Jeter’s offensive production had dropped mightily in 2008. He was still productive with the bat, with a 110 wRC+. Still, with his prior poor defense at SS, it remained to be seen if the decline phase of his career had started. Part of the issue was a drop in ISO to .107, the lowest of his career and by far his lowest since 2004.

The move to New Yankee Stadium seems to have been exactly what Jeter needed. Jeter’s inside-out offensive style is well known, and the dimensions at the New Yankee Stadium play directly into his hands. Of Jeter’s 15 home runs to right field in 2009, 11 came at the Yankees new park. Taking a look at his splits, we can see how big of a difference this made in Jeter’s resurgence.

Over the course of his career, Jeter has always excelled at going to the opposite field. While most right handed hitters lose their power to right field and their fly balls turn into outs, Jeter maintains a high line drive rate. His 28.5% LD rate to right field is 7.6% better than average, and many more of his fly balls (10.2% vs. 2.8% average) leave the yard, leading to a .407 wOBA to right field bolstered by a robust .211 ISO.

Although much of what hurt Jeter in ’08 was poor production on balls hit to left field – mostly from a 15.88 GB/FB ratio – what seems to have fueled his resurgence is his best season on balls hit to right field in years. He posted a 17.4% HR/FB in 2009, just under nine times better than the RHB average. This fantastic power surge was a driving force in his success in 2009. Given that 11 of his 15 HRs were at home and his home wOBA was 21 points higher despite a lower BABIP, we can surmise that Jeter’s batted balls in 2009 played the stadium perfectly.

Taking a look at data from HitTracker Online, we can take a deeper look into these home runs. Here is the data on the HRs to right field.

We can see that there weren’t any no doubters, especially among those hit at the new stadium. He’s not hitting home runs in the typical power hitter vein, but his propensity to hit the ball hard the other way means it is possible for this trend to continue at a park with favorable RF dimensions like New Yankee Stadium.

Jeter enters the last year of his current contract with New York this season. It’s hard to imagine Jeter in another uniform, and given the paradise that he’s finding himself in, I can’t imagine Jeter finishing his illustrious career anywhere else.

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17 Responses to “Derek Jeter’s Home Cooking”

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  1. Steve says:

    Can we compare this to his HRs hit to RF in prior seasons?

    I don’t think NEW Yankee stadiums suits Jeter’s swing so much as BOTH Yankee stadiums suit his approach.

    The dimensions are a little different, and there are a handful of cheapies in there (one of which was at Safeco), but for the most part the HRs he hit at NYS would have been out of 10-20 other parks. That tells me that most of these HRs would probably have been out at the old YS as well.

    I don’t doubt that Jeter benefits from the dimensions of the Yankees home park, but I am not sure it’s fair to credit the move across the street as the key to his resurgence. I think it has more to do with not getting hit on the hand with a Daniel Cabrera fastball.

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    • Chip says:

      I agree, Jeter has tailored his swing perfectly to his home park. If anybody thinks that’s a bad thing, they should go look at Dustin Pedroia’s homerun chart (amazingly he’s only ever hit one opposite field homer and never one over 400 ft). When you take that into consideration, I’d make the argument that Jeter has more power and might put up 25 homeruns if he played his home games in Fenway

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  2. andy s says:

    Maybe not no-doubters, but come on, a hr of 390 feet is gone almost everywhere. 350-360 is a hr many places and has a good chance for a double others depending on the arc. Looks like only 1-2 were legit cheepies and 1-2 were maybes.

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  3. Mike Green says:

    Jeter went on an intensive exercise program during the off-season aimed at increasing his hip mobility for the purpose of dealing with his issues reaching ground-balls up the middle. It apparently worked, and perhaps there was an unexpected benefit for his batting.

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  4. Kevin S. says:

    Jeter also wasn’t dealing with the wrist injury that plagued him last year. I’m not saying that explained his entire rebound, but certainly a good part of it.

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  5. Madlock says:

    Calling 2009 a resurgent year for Jeter is inaccurate and reflects badly on the research done by the writer. On May 10, 2009 Jeter was hit on the hand/wrist by a pitch which caused him to leave the game. At the time he was hitting .312 with a .771 OPS. He immediate went into a 27 game slump in which he hit .213 with a .601 OPS. For his final 83 games of 2008 Jeter hit .323 with a .823 OPS.

    Additionally, during the slump in 2008 Jeter saw an inordinate amount of FB ,71.1% as opposed to 63.7% for all other AB in 2008 and 55.5% in 2009).

    See a trend here?

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    • Jack Moore says:

      He went from 3.7/3.8 wins in 2007 and 2008 and was worth 7.4 wins in 2009, his best season of the win value era. Although he was still playing near or at an all star level, in 2009 he returned to the MVP quality performance we had been used to, regardless of if it was because of injury or anything else.

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      • Madlock says:

        Your rebuttal is based on the same premise as your original post. Counting stats are a poor measurement of a player who was far less than 100% for 1/5 (or more) of a season. Hopefully in the future your research will be more thorough.

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      • Chip says:

        Yes, if it were a one-year deal where Jeter was declining it would be one thing but Jeter also didn’t have a great 2007 when he was presumably healthy plus he’s getting really old. Resurgent season is exactly what I would call a 35 year old shortstop having maybe the third best season of his illustrious career

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  6. Mike Green says:

    Jeter’s batting RAR 2002-2009: 22.2, 20.9, 28.3, 41.8, 23.0, 8.6, 37.4. You can safely call that kind of improvement in a 35 year old a resurgence.

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  7. Mike Green says:

    Coke to the author.

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  8. bigfan says:

    Derek Jeter played like a second round roto player last year. He hasn’t been a second round draft pick in quite a few years. That’s a resurgent season.

    There is no way to capture every issue about a player on one page. The absence of one data point or perspective doesn’t weaken an article.

    For me, the piece demonstrates Jeter’s intelligence. It highlights his unique hitting approach, and how, coupled with the new stadium, it helped him to have a great season. Great stuff.

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  9. t-bone rex says:

    A stark contrast to Nomar. I hope one day, it probably wont be soon, fan graphs will compare the old SS Triumvirate (why not include miggie) and take a look at their peaks and what happened to them. It would be a great piece.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Remember that All-Star Game when people thought Christian Guzman had joined them? That was a hoot.

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      • t-bone rex says:

        Yes! Lets not take one year booms to mean to much – zobrist. obviously if he can keep that up it means something, but I think we forget the potential of one year’s skill plus amazing luck to cloud our view of the future. Jeter is an all time act, Guzman not so much, thought is career, to be fare, as been stable as good.

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  10. Sheila Dunn says:

    Identifying it is the hardest part, but I agree with your conclusion. I am going to do some research and post it here for clarity. Stay tuned and I’ll be back with the info. I made sure to bookmark the site so I’ll be able to find my way back. LOL Also, if any of you women need at home ab exercises don’t hesitate to come on over.

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