Does Jeter 2011 = Ortiz 2010?

In 2010, David Ortiz got off to a horrible start to the season, but he rebounded to have an excellent overall year, launched by a strong game in early May.

Could the same thing happen with Derek Jeter this year? Did Sunday’s big day kick-start what could end up being another classic Jeter season?

Ortiz began the 2010 season with a .143/.238/.286 AVG/OBP/SLG line in April, though he only played in 16 games that month. In addition to his sad .524 OPS, Ortiz had one lone home run, four RBI, five runs and 21 strikeouts in 56 at-bats (a 37.5 percent K rate).

On May 1, Ortiz went 2-for-4 with a pair of solo home runs and saw his OPS increase 120 points that day. For the month of May, he hit .363/.424/.788 for a 1.212 OPS. This surge brought his season counting totals to 11 HR, 31 RBI and 21 runs scored while lowering his strikeout rate to 33.1 percent, and his rate stats were up to .272/.348/.581.

While he cooled off a bit from his majestic May, by season’s end Big Papi had produced as everyone expected him to, finishing with a .270/.370/.529 line with 32 homers, 102 RBI, 86 runs and a 137 OPS+, whiffing in 26.8 percent of his ABs. The shape of his production was a bit of a roller coaster ride, but the numbers were there once again.

Can Jeter see a similar resurgence after Sunday’s big game? Going into that contest, his line was .256/.315/.282 with nary a long ball, only six RBI, 16 runs and zero stolen bases in only two attempts.

Jeter’s May 8 performance surpassed Ortiz’s, as Cap’n Jetes went 4-for-6 with two homers, 3 RBI and a steal. Because he had played more (29 games) than Ortiz befor his breakout, Jeter’s OPS climbed “only” 83 points.

There’s really no way to know if this single game flipped a switch and will enable Jeter to hit over .300 or whether he’ll reach double digits in homers by the end of the season—or even in doubles, though he did get his third two-bagger of the year the day before his offensive explosion.

If that game didn’t mark a renewal for the Captain, his inexorable march to 3,000 hits will be even more joyless than Craig Biggio’s trudge four years ago. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

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Greg has been a writer and editor for both The Hardball Times website and Annual since 2010. In his dreams, he's the second coming of Ozzie Smith. Please don't wake him up.

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