During Friday’s game, Derek Jeter made a nice play on a ball that was destined to be a single up the middle as he ranged to his left and got the out at first. It was one of those balls that you expect Jeter to miss based on his previous work at short. However, in 2009, Derek Jeter is having his best defensive season in years. His UZR/150 is 2.5 (it could be the best defensive year of his career, as the ratings on Fangraphs only go back to 2002). Believe it or not, Jeter is actually an above average defender at his position. While his range still isn’t great (or good), he has improved upon it considerably after having the worst defensive year of his career in 2007.
Wild Things movie It’s pretty interesting, actually, as Jeter’s defensive improvements have come after being labeled one of the worst defensive shortstops in the majors by a now infamous University of Pennsylvania study that was released last February. Jeter’s defense was questioned ad nauseam and he seems to have worked on improving it since the report made headlines, explaining his positive defensive gains in 2008-09. I also remember Alex Rodriguez noting that Jeter had participated in a new offseason training regimen that was designed to help him be “more explosive” prior to the 2008 season, which could further explain the positive trend.
As Jeter approaches the end of his contract, these things are important to note, as they will help to shape the “what to do with Jeter” discussion.
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