The New (Old) Derek Jeter

2008 looked like the beginning of the end for Derek Jeter. His OPS dipped below .800 for only the second time this decade, his ISO fell off, and his home run rate dropped. Maybe he was simply melancholy about the old Yankee Stadium closing, but Jeter didn’t look like a sure thing to produce like … well Derek Jeter. ZiPS projected a .354 wOBA, CHONE a .349 wOBA, and Marcel a .353 wOBA. As it turns out, that new park may be the best thing to happen to Jeter in a while.

Most players hit better at their home park, and Jeter is doing just that. Everyone has talked about how the new Yankees Stadium is a hitters’ park and the affect applies to Jeter too:

Home: .320/.401/.495 9 HR
Away: .322/.395/.415 2 HR

Jeter actually has a higher BABIP on the road, a higher walk rate, and a lower strikeout rate, yet his power is really shooting up in the new Yankee palace. Oddly, Jeter’s only other full-time right-handed batting teammate, Alex Rodriguez, isn’t seeing similar results, or at least he doesn’t on the surface. His BABIP is only .161, yet his line is .209/.358/.535. Only 6 of 19 home runs have come on the road, despite about split playing time.

As a team the Yankees are batting .273/.360/.487 at home and .278/.357/.452 on the road. So while a lot has been made of the park, the main difference does indeed appear to be home runs hit. 53 in 1,866 plate appearances on the road and 91 in 2,015 plate appearances at home. Or, in percentage form: 2.8% versus 4.5%. So the park seems to be making a difference in home run rates, although I’ll leave the park factors to the people smarter than myself.

Assuming Jeter doesn’t under perform his projections, he has the chance at a five win season. That seemed relatively unlikely entering the year.




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35 Responses to “The New (Old) Derek Jeter”

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  1. Nick says:

    The new park may help a bit, but there’s a bigger issue that’s helping him this year. Last year around May, Jeter was hit in the wrist by a pitch. After that, until around September, he was AWFUL. I think he hit like .230 with a ton of GIDPs. He’s just so stubborn that he refused to sit down, even though it was a detriment to the team.

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    • Andy S says:

      No, he continued to hit .300, but with zero power. I know we’d all like to blame Daniel Cabrera for Jeter’s 2008, but let’s be honest, that probably was a cause for 2-3 weeks of troubles, because he started heating up after that and then slumping again.

      The real ? here is how Jeter’s defense has improved. I know small sample size, but still, it will be interesting to see if he can maintain it. I hope not; I don’t want Jeter getting any more ideas that he’s great at shortstop, making it tougher to move him to an OF position.

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      • Michael says:

        To be honest, I don’t think Jeter keeps track of his UZR/150. It’d be nice though.

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      • Tom B says:

        ever been hit in the hand by a pitch? odd’s are no, not by a major league fastball.

        his hand was broken, anyone watching him play could see that he was not healthy for 2 months after daniel cabrera plunked him. yet people were quick to put him in the “decline” bin. yankee brass put him on a new workout program to help his lateral movement int he field, which is directly tied to his UZR improvements, but the difference in batting is solely due to being able to use both hands.

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      • Joe R says:

        As much as we tend to hate on Jeter, his longevity at a middle infield spot is absolutely insane.

        2078 games, 9,532 PA’s, NEVER played anything but SS. Only played under 145 games once since 1996. And unlike Cal Ripken Jr. who was pretty much in decline mode by age 32, Jeter still looks fairly strong. Props where due.

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      • Xavier says:

        “No, he continued to hit .300, but with zero power. I know we’d all like to blame Daniel Cabrera for Jeter’s 2008, but let’s be honest, that probably was a cause for 2-3 weeks of troubles, because he started heating up after that and then slumping again.”

        You don’t think getting hit on the hand sapped him of a good bit of his power? Add to that his lingering hamstring issues, and instead of a .315 hitter with good speed and some pop, you have an empty .300 hitter.

        “The real ? here is how Jeter’s defense has improved. I know small sample size, but still, it will be interesting to see if he can maintain it. I hope not; I don’t want Jeter getting any more ideas that he’s great at shortstop, making it tougher to move him to an OF position.”

        His legs seem to be healthier than they have been in a while, which explains a good bit of his newfound range up the middle, as well as his 18 stolen bases this season (after going a fairly terrible 11-16 last year). Another, perhaps more readily apparent cause is going from Giambi to Teixiera. Jeter and Cano only have 7 errors between them this year, and while their range isn’t anything special, they both rate high in terms of sure-handedness. Some of that credit, I imagine, has to be going from a terrible defensive first baseman to a very good one.

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      • Lee Panas says:

        I think Jeter’s defensive improvement is real. He was OK last year too so that’s a 1 1/2 year sample. Anecdotally, he’s playing deeper than he used to which may help him get to more balls. Seriously, I do think the Yankees pay attention to UZR or whatever close cousin their stat department uses and I think that may be the reason for his change in positioning. With all the publicity surrounding his defensive problems, they would have been crazy not to look into it.

        Lee

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      • Chris says:

        It was about a month that he couldn’t hit because of the wrist injury:

        Before May 20, 2008: .312/.351/.427/.778
        May 21 thru June 17: .212/.291/.298/.589
        June 18 thru end of season: .322/.391/.433/.824

        He had a hamstring injury early in the season which I believe contributed to his slow start, but after June 18 he was basically at his career norms.

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  2. Xavier says:

    “Most players hit better at their home park, and Jeter is doing just that. Everyone has talked about how the new Yankees Stadium is a hitters’ park and the affect applies to Jeter too:

    Home: .320/.401/.495 9 HR
    Away: .322/.395/.415 2 HR”

    As a huge but realistic Jeter fan, this split makes ample sense to me. Most of his home runs are on short fly balls or line drives to right or right center field, and those seem to be the balls the park helps the most.

    I know managers don’t seem to do very much, but is it possible that the switch in the lineup is what’s responsible for his better walk-rate? Is it simply the obvious fact that he’s healthier than last year? Whatever it is, it seems more likely from watching him play every day that last year was an abberation than that he’s in full-on decline mode; his BB% is up, HR/FB is up, K% is down, stolen bases are way up, LD% is up — his performance seems to be fairly legitimate on both a visceral and statistical level.

    “Assuming Jeter doesn’t under perform his projections, he has the chance at a five win season. That seemed relatively unlikely entering the year.”

    He’s at 4.4 right now. I think “he has a chance at a 6 win season” is more appropriate, or “barring injury or collapse, he is a virtual lock for a five win season.”

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  3. RollingWave says:

    The reason that Jeter is benifiting from the Stadium but A-rod is not is quiet simple. because while the Stadium inflats homeruns across the board. it is A LOT more favorable to right field than left . while YS is no longer as crazy as the days of Ruth where any modest fly will go out in right and only the bombs amoung all bombs leave center left field. it is still a stadium that has a much easier RF than LF to take out of.

    Jeter is an oddity in baseball because he is one of the rare guys that goes opposite field as the norm. so his power factor should be viewed more like a left hander than a right handed one. where as A-rod is a dead pull guy . so he have to challenge the bigger left fields of YS to hit his dingers.

    So far this yea. the Yankees that most obviously benifits from YS is Johnny Damon (.952 at home, 774 on the road). his swing approach is almost perfect for his homefield. a left hander with only modest power that pulls a lot of modest fly balls. Damon said he changed his approach after joining the team to take advantage of the porch, and evidence back him up. he hit 39% FB in 06 and 41% this year. by far higher than his career norms. (And when he didn’t hit those FBs in 07 he was mediocare)

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  4. big baby says:

    the real interesting splits are his lefty/right splits.

    he is thoroughly mediocre against righties now, but he is ANNIHILATING lefties.

    off the top of my head, .750 OPS vs. righties, 1.1 vs. lefties.

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  5. Steve C says:

    Hit Tracker

    http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2009_1269&type=hitter

    He is most certainly “pushing” the ball over the right field fence.

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    • Tom B says:

      as far back as hittracker goes, this is the most amount of HR’s he’s ever hit to right field. only 3 of his hr’s in yankee stadium this year would have been inside the old yankee stadium.

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  6. JohnF says:

    Just a comment on the hit in the wrist thing. I played baseball when I was younger and luckily never got hit on the hand, but I did once in softball get hit in the wrist and the pain lingered for months without even any structural damage. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say it affected him for a few months even with better strengthening and training.

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  7. JohnF says:

    Sorry to be the annoying tells a life story guy. To bring it back, I lucked out big time with Jeter in my fantasy league getting him in the 9th round.

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    • Tom B says:

      hey sometimes its better to look at things in the real world. it’s easy to get lost in statistics and numbers…

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  8. Colin says:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090727&content_id=6094262&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

    Were these 2 articles written at the same time?

    I’m happy UZR is getting more mainstream attention, but I’m still amused that the attention it gets is typically followed by someone saying something like,

    “You can’t sit around and figure out a defensive chart on somebody,” Jeter said. “I mean, that’s impossible to do, so I don’t pay attention to it. There’s different pitchers, different hitters, different runners and different people playing different positions. You cannot do it.

    “Everybody doesn’t play the same position, everybody doesn’t get hit the same ground ball, everyone doesn’t have the same runner. So you can’t figure out a mathematical equation on it. If Ichiro hits a ball in the same spot that a slower runner does, how can you compute that in a computer? You can’t do it.”

    Jeter was simply a below average or worse defender for the bulk of his career, theres not much else needed to say about it. His offense has always made up for it though, and if he can start putting up some better defensive numbers, more power to him.

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  9. theraysparty says:

    Did he change his cleats? He has worn those Air jordan cleats that ride up his ankle and makes him look like he has a ball and chain around his ankle. I wouldn’t say that is the cause of his range problems but I haven’t seen other Major Leaguers wear those type of cleats.

    Someone needs to see how many hits he has gotten into rightfield on pitches way inside on him. Only reason I respect Jeter because he is very skilled at that with the bat.

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  10. Travis L says:

    I love it when articles about Jeter are posted. More than any other, it invites people with weak arguments and strong opinions to share. That alone makes my day.

    Most Jeterlovers (anybody else see an SNL skit there?) steam up when an analysis concludes anything other than Jeter being approximately as good as God, but with better baseball instincts. Really, they are saying that these general rules and trends exist, and his character isn’t enough to escape them.

    I think DJ even feels similarly about himself as his fans do. Pretty good post on his defensive improvements, and his reaction to them. http://firejaymariotti.blogspot.com/2009/07/execs-love-stats-thinking-players-hate.html

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    • Tom B says:

      this article is neither informative nor accurate. just a reactionary piece based on the 2 already well written articles today (mlb and fangraphs). don’t link to blogs, they are rarely worth reading… especially after reading this site.

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    • MK says:

      That link reminded me how much I miss FJM — a blog that was actually good at that type of dissection, not just trying too hard.

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    • JG says:

      You sure taking hating seriously.

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  11. mjmetro says:

    if jeter keeps it up, he might just become the best SS in the league and then he’ll be under-rated because he’s been over-rated for so long!

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  12. Rob in CT says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that Jeter has been re-positioned (deeper, maybe a touch closer to 2B) since 2008. That, plus a lack of leg injuries (which he typically plays through) has meant that he’s playing an average SS instead of poor SS. And he’s back to hitting like Derek Jeter (albeit with an exaggerated platoon split so far). I’m loving it. Given his age, the end is probably near, so I’m gonna enjoy every bit of it.

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  13. CH says:

    This is a recent article from “The Onion” website:

    NEW YORK—Thanks to his vaunted grace and tremendous skill, Yankees captain Derek Jeter was able Tuesday night to make a pop-up to shortstop look as routine as it actually was. “Look at him effortlessly settle under that ball and close his glove around it as it falls slowly in,” gushed Yankees radio announcer John Sterling, who also had the privilege of broadcasting Jeter’s catch of a soft humpback liner in 2002. Teammate Robinson Cano added that “watching him day in and day out, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone makes that kind of play all the time… It’s a joy just watching him glide up the middle, catch the ball on a stolen base attempt, and lay down the tag as if he’s done it a million times before, which he has. What a teammate.” Later in the inning, Jeter made an easy play look difficult with that jump-throw thing he doesn’t need to do.

    http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/derek_jeter_makes_easy_play

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  14. PC says:

    Awwwwww. Jeet haters are so KUTE!

    Keep up the lifeless lives you’re living.

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  15. Andrew says:

    I would agree that Jeter’s longevity at his position is amazing, but take umbrage at the suggestion that he is somehow exhibiting better numbers than the Iron Man. Someone above suggested that Cal was in “decline” at the age of 32, completely ignoring the fact that Cal was a Silver Slugger in both his 32 and 33 year (which included the strike-shortened ’94 campaign) and continued his remarkable games played streak for another six seasons until finally pulling the plug on the streak at the age of 38!

    More importantly, Cal wasn’t exactly hitting in front of Rodriguez and Texiera during the last decade of his career.

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    • DC Stack says:

      In Cal’s final 10 seasons he finished with an OPS+ below 100 seven times. Cal was just not that good of a player after the age of 30.

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  16. I don’t think it really matters that much anymore.

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