I have written about Derek Jeter‘s lack of plate patience this year a number of times, as such a change in a hitter’s approach can often be predictive for older players, indicating that a decline is ahead. For Jeter, that could very well be the case given that he is swinging at balls at an alarming rate (compared to his career averages). On the season, Jeter’s O-Swing rate is currently at 32.6% – he is swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone 32.6% of the time – while his career average in that area is a hair under 20% (it has been closer to about 22% from 2008-2009). However, despite the disappointing season percentage, there are some positive developments that perhaps indicate Jeter’s plate patience is starting to come around.
In April, Jeter swung at 34.4% of the balls he saw outside of the strike zone. In May, though, Jeter has knocked that number down a bit, swinging at 30% of the pitches he has seen that were off the plate. It is a marginal improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. In addition to that, Jeter has also swung at fewer strikes between April and May. In April, Jeter swung at 72.5% of the pitches he saw in the zone, while his career Z-Swing is 74%. Jeter’s Z-Swing percentage fell further than his career average in May, as he has swung at 65.1% of the strikes he has seen. Basically, this is a good thing, as it would indicate that Jeter is taking more pitches, particularly those that he may not be able to do much with. Compared to the month of April, he is being more selective inside and outside of the zone, and it shows, as his walk rate has increased from a measly 3% in April to 6.5% in May. In my opinion, these are positive developments for the elder statesmen, as long as they continue to trend in the right direction.
Sometimes, the 35-year old has looked awful at the plate, especially with pitches on the outside corner (or just outside). He does, however, seem to be improving upon his overall plate patience, which will hopefully boost his rather disappointing .275/.319/.399 triple slash line.
Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images
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