Yesterday, in my post on the possibility of moving Derek Jeter to CF and replacing him at SS with Orlando Cabrera, I posited that the increased offensive value of having Orlando rather than Melky in the lineup + the increased defense at short > the lost defensive value in the outfield. Of course, the unknown variable in that equation is Derek Jeter’s ability to play CF. The fine folks over at Driveline Mechanics analyzed the scenario and came to the following conclusion:
Status Quo (Jeter at SS, Melky in CF): 3.89 WAR
O-Cab at Short, Jeter in center field, depending on Jeter’s D in CF:
Cabrera projects to be worth 2.21 WAR. Here’s that figure, combined with Jeter’s WAR in CF based on the range of D we listed above:
If Jeter is a…
-12.5 run defender: 4.79 WAR (2.58 for Jeter, 2.21 for O-Cab), +0.9 WAR advantage over Jeter/Melky alignment
-10 run defender: 5.04 WAR, +1.16 WAR over Jeter/Melky
-7.5 run defender: 5.29 WAR, +1.4 WAR over Jeter/Melky
-5 run defender: 5.54 WAR, +1.65 WAR over Jeter/Melky
-2.5 run defender: 5.79 WAR, +1.9 over Jeter/Melky
Average defender: 6.04 WAR, +2.15 over Jeter/Melky
We have little idea of how good or bad of a center fielder Derek Jeter would be, but even if we assume that Jeter would be lousy (costing his team -12.5 runs with the leather), the projected WAR of an Orlando Cabrera/Derek Jeter duo (4.79 WAR) trumps that of a Jeter/Melky Cabrera alignment (3.89 WAR) by nearly a win. If Jeter isn’t quite so bad, that advantage grows even further, perhaps nearer 2 wins if Jeter is only kind of bad in center.
Basically, Jeter would need to be incredibly terrible in CF for this move to be a negative in 2009. Assuming that the Yankees could sign Cabrera to a decent contract, it is hard to argue with the logic of moving Derek off short. However, as we all know, it all depends on whether Derek would concede to the shift, something that I do not see happening.
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