It had to have been unusual for Derek Jeter last offseason to find himself having to aggressively negotiate with the Yankees for a new contract. Jeter is arguably one of the best Yankees all time and after spending his entire career in the Bronx, Jeter is the all time leader in hits by a Bronx Bomber.
Towards the end of last season Jeter struggled at the plate and would finish the season with one of the worst stats of his Hall of Fame career. I guess it only takes one bad season, because the Yankees played hard ball with Jeter through the contract negotiations and now, just a handful of games into this season, critics are all over Jeter who is batting just .206.
Compared to other professional leagues, baseball isn’t as much of a “What have you done for me lately” sport. Reputation and past statistics count for plenty. The problem for Jeter is that there’s one other stat that trumps the others, and it goes up every year.
Jeter will be 37 by the end of June. It’s that number that has his critics damn near ready to run him out of town less than 10 games into the season. They say he’s not hitting the ball hard, he’s not being productive, he won’t break out of this slump, he’s too old, he’s not this, he’s not that.
Gabe Lacques of USA Today broke down Jeters .206 average in an attempt to reason that Jeter won’t be improving any time soon. Lacques writes about Jeter : “Jeter is hitting .206 after nine games. Worse yet, as many observers have pointed out, it’s a soft .206. Three of his six hits are infield hits. Twenty-three of his 29 balls in play this year have been grounders. He has one extra-base hit, a double. And, in an unscientific observation from one observer, Jeter has yet to “hit one ball on the screws” all season. ”
All of that may be true, but I say he’s Derek fucking Jeter, and we’re less than ten games into the season! Jeter has been working with a new batting stance with less of a batting stride, you would expect a player of his caliber to iron out the kinks sooner than later.
I’d like anyone to name 10 guys they would rather replace Derek Jeter with, and after they name the first five, I’ll call them a liar. Jeter is getting old, but if Omar Vizquel is still getting it done at 43, Derek Jeter isn’t done yet. My bet is he bats at around .275 this season.