Yankees Trade for Derek Jeter

The Yankees, at present, are right in the thick of the American League playoff race, and like most teams hanging around contention, they’ve expressed interest in making a midseason splash. Recently there’ve been rumors about Joba Chamberlain, and about maybe trading Phil Hughes for a hitter. But Thursday, the Yankees went ahead and exchanged Travis Ishikawa for Derek Jeter. Jeter was inserted directly into the starting lineup, albeit as a designated hitter instead of a shortstop.

Whenever a team gets a player back from injury this time of year, someone will refer to it as a midseason acquisition, and that’s basically what this is. After not having Jeter for more than three months, the Yankees now have him for the stretch run, and in his first at-bat on Thursday, he swung at the first pitch and singled. Granted, it was an infield single, weakly struck, but a hit’s a hit, and Jeter took his familiar sprint to first base. The Yankees just don’t feel like the Yankees without Jeter in the order, so now, if nothing else, there’s more excitement. And there’s not nothing else.

This is just an image so many people had been waiting for all season long:

jetersantana

Jeter, of course, received a standing ovation. He was missed, badly. People missed his on-field value, they missed his off-field value, and they missed his name value, as the Yankees were forced to get by with a whole host of inadequate shortstop options. Without Jeter, Yankees shortstops have ranked 29th in average, 25th in OBP, and dead last in slugging. The Yankees acknowledged that Jeter is up sooner than they planned for him to be, but they also said they’re simply better with him on the roster, and there’s little question this’ll provide a boost. The most important question is how big of a boost.

See, there are two separate issues. One is how much the Yankees have missed Jeter so far. The other is how much they might miss him were he out the rest of the season. The second issue is more important today, but we might as well touch on the first, since the season’s more than halfway over.

The good news is that, according to the metrics, the Yankees’ shortstops have been just about average or so in the field. It’s the same with their baserunning, so there’s not much there to discuss. But, as a group, they’ve posted a .248 wOBA. That’s a .248 wOBA, in Yankee Stadium, where this was a home run. That’s a better offensive performance than any National League pitching staff, but position players aren’t supposed to be compared to pitchers with regard to hitting, and the difference between the Yankees shortstops and the Dodgers pitchers is slight. The situation has been dreadful, and shortstop is a big reason why the Yankees have struggled to score runs on any kind of consistent basis.

What might Jeter have done? Well, Steamer projects him for a .324 wOBA. He was at .332 over the three previous years, and now he’s the oldest he’s ever been. The difference between .324 and .248 over 357 plate appearances is more than 20 runs, and though Jeter wouldn’t have gotten every plate appearance, he would’ve gotten the majority of them. Odds are, Jeter would’ve given some runs back in the field, as is his “thing”, but we’re talking about a substantial difference. And last year, Jeter’s wOBA was .347. Here’s a simpler way of putting it: to date, Yankees shortstops have been a little below replacement level. Jeter’s lowest WAR ever is 2.0, and the Yankees have probably missed him by between one and two wins. That’s more than the difference between them and the Orioles.

But that’s all looking back, and there’s nothing the Yankees can do about that. Now what matters is how much Jeter is likely to help. This is complicated, because we don’t know how Jeter is going to perform after his injury and setbacks, but we can at least develop some ideas.

Without Jeter, the Yankees would probably give the bulk of their shortstop time to Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez. Though they’ve under-performed, they’re projected for a combined .287 wOBA the rest of the way. Jeter, again, we find at .324. Nix appears to be a below-average defensive shortstop, while Nunez appears to be shockingly dreadful. Jeter is Jeter and I’d really just rather not talk about his defense. As a shortstop, he’s closer to Andrelton Simmons than he is to you, but that’s mostly because you suck.

Jeter’s the best of the shortstops, obviously. Over, say, 250 plate appearances, he projects to be about seven or eight runs better at the plate, and I don’t know if he’s much worse in the field, given the Nunez factor. So if you wanted to round, you could say Jeter’s return should be worth about a win over the remaining stretch. That’s just taking the projections at their word, and this is a casual approximation. There’s also some value from putting Jeter higher in the lineup, and from leaving Nunez and Nix available to offer support elsewhere.

But the projections don’t know what Jeter’s coming back from. For whatever it’s worth, on his first-inning infield single, he made it down to first base in a hair over four seconds. He wasn’t running awkwardly, but he wasn’t running at 100%. If Jeter isn’t quite himself now, we don’t know if he’ll turn into himself later on, and that could have an impact on his offense and clearly on his defense. Jeter can’t afford, defensively, to give up much in the way of lateral mobility. Even this version of Jeter is probably better than the alternatives, but it remains to be seen how much better. It won’t be a tremendous boost if Jeter has to spend a lot of time at DH. It won’t be a tremendous boost if Jeter seems even more limited than usual in the field.

There’s the potential for Jeter to struggle, somewhat uncharacteristically. But on the more positive side, if he looks more or less like himself, this is a major upgrade in a fairly tight division. Teams that are looking to make midseason splashes are usually looking to make themselves better by one or two wins over several weeks. Seldom is there the opportunity to upgrade by more than that. Jeter might make the Yankees a win better, and if he hits like he did in 2012, it could be even more significant. There’s a lesson to be learned from the fact that, despite all the injuries, the Yankees remain in the race. But Jeter ought to make the Yankees look more like themselves, and in a close playoff race, every win counts.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Stan
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Stan
3 years 1 month ago

I’m pretty sure the Red Sox are on the verge of trading Jackie Bradley Jr for Papelbon because this is a Jeff Sullivan post without a GIF. Now three more (relatively simpler) things need to happen before it’s a done deal.

Ian R.
Guest
Ian R.
3 years 1 month ago

To be fair, the post at least has a picture (though it’s a PNG rather than a GIF). Does that count?

steex
Guest
steex
3 years 1 month ago

That does not count. The prophecy has been foretold, and it was very clear.

mch38
Member
mch38
3 years 1 month ago

god I wish

Ruben Amaro Jr.
Guest
Ruben Amaro Jr.
3 years 1 month ago

Papelbon’s too valuable, you wish wrong kid.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
3 years 1 month ago

The Phillies are going to defy the aging curve and all projections and make the playoffs. Gotta have a good closer for that.

Doug Lampert
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Doug Lampert
3 years 1 month ago

There is a LINK to a page with a gif, I suppose that doesn’t actually count, but it does show he was thinking about it.

Additionally: Even if all four things happen that doesn’t guarantee that the Sox will make the trade, they’re neccessary preconditions, not sufficient conditions.

Quoting the original prophesy:
Things that will happen before the Red Sox trade Jackie Bradley Jr for Jonathan Papelbon:

I will resign from FanGraphs to fulfill my dream of writing at Bleacher Report.
Jeff Sullivan will write an entire post without a GIF in it.
Eno Sarris will launch CoffeeGraphs, extolling the virtues of alcohol free drinks.
Carson Cistulli will wear a t-shirt that does not have holes in it.

Steve
Guest
Steve
3 years 1 month ago

The Yankees acquire an aging, post-superstar? That never happens

Balthazar
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Balthazar
3 years 1 month ago

Who won that trade? The insurance agent, I have to think.

Anon
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Anon
3 years 1 month ago

Cardinals trade for Chris Carpenter?

Spencer D
Guest
Spencer D
3 years 1 month ago

I am particularly excited for that.

FJ
Guest
FJ
3 years 1 month ago

Rangers trade for:

Darvish
Harrison (August-September)
Lewis
Ogando
Feliz (August-September)
Baker
Gentry

and have already traded for:
Soria

FJ
Guest
FJ
3 years 1 month ago

Doh

and I see someone already beat me to it :)

shashi
Guest
shashi
3 years 1 month ago

The Rangers are very good, but it’s difficult to count Darvish as a “trade” when he has made 18 starts this year!

BenRevereDoesSteroids
Member
BenRevereDoesSteroids
3 years 1 month ago

Rangers are on the verge of a blockbuster trade after the all-star break. Justin Grimm, Josh Lindblom, and Ross Wolf for Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando.

Sounds like an even trade to me.

MT_Ranger_Fan
Guest
MT_Ranger_Fan
3 years 1 month ago

With Neftali Feliz as the player to be named later.

bdhudson
Member
Member
bdhudson
3 years 1 month ago

Yankees trade Jeter back for sadness and other old people with functional quads.

Wood
Guest
Wood
3 years 1 month ago

Well that was short-lived.

Sparkles Peterson
Guest
Sparkles Peterson
3 years 1 month ago

Cashman should file a grievance.

DowntownChico
Member
DowntownChico
3 years 1 month ago

Remember when the Yankees had Jeter back for the 2013 season?

Yeah, me neither.

NickB
Guest
NickB
3 years 1 month ago

Relax he’ll be back friday or saturday. If you knew how many players felt a tweak in there quad and never said a word about it or missed a game you’d be shocked.

Jeter doesn’t even mention this “tweak” if the game is tied and he’s coming up.

Gyre
Guest
Gyre
3 years 1 month ago

I would hope that he doesn’t return for a week. I didn’t see one run to first that was fluid, and the latter ones looked peglegged. A 39 yr old with a couple rehab games? Even bloody sox Schilling went 4, and then blew his next 3 starts.

Better get used to this cheap Yankee team, that’s what will happen with the edict to avoid the luxury tax. It will be years before they can duplicate the A’s.

LordJim
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LordJim
3 years 1 month ago

I don’t suck.

dannyrainge
Member
dannyrainge
3 years 1 month ago

“As a shortstop, he’s closer to Andrelton Simmons than he is to you, but that’s mostly because you suck.”

this statement produced audible LOL’s

Skier44
Guest
Skier44
3 years 1 month ago

While what exactly Jeter will be able to do remains to be seen, he does have the added benefit of adding a semi competent right handed bat to a lineup that has well, no semi competent right handed bats. The Yankees best hitters this year have been Robinson Cano (then a cavernous drop off), Brett Gardner (hitting slightly above average and with surprising power for him), and Ichiro (below average hitter this year, but better than pretty much everything else the Yankees have had). All three of them often bat 1-2-3 in the order, so having a righty bat that should be able to break up the lefty logjam at the top should help a bit later in the game when currently opposing managers can send in a LOOGY to pitch to like 6 consecutive lefties every game.

And while logically one needs to have some serious questions about what a 39 year old coming off a serious injury has left in the tank, the optimistic Yankee fan in me wants to believe that he still has some “Jeterian” magic left. After all, after a dreadful offensive 2010 who honestly expected him to improve in 2011 and lead the AL in hits in 2012?

Eric
Guest
Eric
3 years 1 month ago

Sign Mattingly to play first base

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 1 month ago

I fail to understand way stats folks consistently underestimate Jeter. Statistically he has pretty much always been a fantastic player. Last year, he outhit every shortstop in baseball except Ian Desmond. Why the smirks then?

Dirk
Guest
Dirk
3 years 1 month ago

I fail to understand why stats folks consistently overestimate Jeter’s defense. Why would anyone think he can go from worst defensive SS in the game, have a 9 month ankle injury, and still play effectively.
Everyone’s career ends sooner of later, Jeter is probably done, at least as a SS on a contender.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 1 month ago

…of course Jeter was never the worst defensive shortstop in the game. Hell, he’s not even the worst defensive shortstop on his team.

Dirk
Guest
Dirk
3 years 1 month ago
MIkey
Guest
MIkey
3 years 1 month ago

The old saying is true. If Derek Jeter had played his whole career in KC or Pittsburgh, he would be a very good player that on one cared about. Terrible defensive shortstop.
They don’t call him “pastadiving” Jeter for nothing.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 1 month ago

….I suppose if you pay attention to UZR and don’t mind that the error bars are probably greater than the thing you are trying to measure….

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 1 month ago

Mikey,

No matter what team Jeter played for, he would be remembered as one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history. …because he is. If he had the exact same career in KC he would be remembered like George Brett. The same career in Pittsburgh and he would be Roberto Clemente. Great players on small market teams get remembered, and Jeter is a great player.

Dirk
Guest
Dirk
3 years 1 month ago

Actually, I tried to come up with a way to not have him last defensively. The best I could possibly come up with was second to last behind Asdrubal Cabrera.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 1 month ago
MIkey
Guest
MIkey
3 years 1 month ago

I’m not saying Jeter wasn’t great. But his fame was directly tied up with the worlds largest media market and most popular team. Not some sort of magician that can overcome age and health problems. He hasn’t really been great in a while either. Only once has been in the top 5 in SS WAR since 06.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 1 month ago

Mikey,

If Jeter’s fame is directly tied to being in New York, can you find for me a small market shortstop with a career wOBA in the neighborhood of .365 with 3,000 hits, who has not enjoyed significant fame?

WAR is a silly stat, but since 2009 Jeter has the 3rd highest WAR among all shortstops. So, even when the guy is not supposed to be great, he’s still pretty great.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 1 month ago

BTW, since 2006 Jeter is 4th among all shortstops in WAR, and the difference between Jeter, and the three players ahead of him is essentially nothing. This is exactly my point, even using the stats that are favored on this site, Jeter is still great, yet the popular narrative here is that he is a media creation.

shashi
Guest
shashi
3 years 1 month ago

Regarding the argument that Derek Jeter would be considered just another good player had he played for a small market team here are his career stats and SS rank since 1903. Traditional: BA (4th), Runs (2nd), HR (5th), RBI (7th), SB (13th), OBP (10th), SLG(12th). Modern: wOBA (15th), wRC+ (7th), WAR (4th). Despite his incredibly low ranking on defensive metrics (encompassed within WAR and still 4th there ) it seems completely ridiculous to argue that this is the profile of just another good player. If the goal is simply to focus on UZR and DRS for one’s argument, fine, but that’s a point of view that’s difficult to take seriously.

Bica
Guest
Bica
3 years 1 month ago

Jeter has had a long successful career, no doubt. But you can’t argue his fame is directly tied to the Yankees.
And no one can name a modern superstar on a small market team. They last a very short time.
Proof of media fame? The farce when he won a gold glove a few years ago. Total joke.

JOEP
Guest
JOEP
3 years 1 month ago

It was like when Jethro Tull won the Grammy for best heavy metal artist.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 1 month ago

Bica,

Modern superstars on small market teams:

Joe Mauer (and note, Mauer will very likely finish his career in Minnesotta)
Joey Votto (also will probably finish in Cincy)
Felix Hernandez
Evan Longoria
Andrew McCutchen
Giancarlo Stanton

What does Jeter winning Gold Gloves have to do with the media? That award is voted on by managers and coaches.

shashi
Guest
shashi
3 years 1 month ago

Derek is obviously nearing the end of the line, but here’s an eye-opener for qualifying shortstops from 2008-2012 (median age in parenthesis). Only Tulo(25), Hanley (26), and Reyes (27) have a better wOBA in that span than Jeter (36). He is also fifth in WAR during that span with Rollins(31) also ahead of him. During what is undoubtedly the downward part of his career, only 3 or 4 much younger guys have exceeded his performance.

Junior
Guest
Junior
3 years 1 month ago

“now he’s the oldest he’s ever been” …

jessef
Guest
3 years 27 days ago

and now he’s even older, and now he’s even older. And, now, he’s older, still!

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