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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