Last night, Derek Jeter came up to the plate four times and did not reach base in any of those appearances. What seemed most frustrating was that he wasn’t working the count. Despite seeing six pitches in his last trip against Lidge, he still saw only eleven pitches all night (2.75 per PA).
Including last night’s game, Jeter is seeing 3.48 pitches per PA, which would be his lowest number since ESPN began tracking the stat in 2002. Derek’s overall swing% is up to 49.4, the highest since a mark just over 50% in 2004. When a guy has contact skills as refined as Jeter’s, you don’t mind when he swings…at good pitches. That seems to be a bit of a problem this year. Not including last night’s game, Jeter’s O-Swing% is still at a very high 29.3, almost ten points above his career average.
It looks as if this swing-more-often strategy isn’t going to change. I’ve beaten my head against a wall writing these posts about Jeter, hoping to see the trend reverse itself. If this is the way Jeter wants to go, that’s fine. He’s been hitting better of late and has a slightly improved walk rate recently. We should also note that Jeter’s BABIP is still much lower than his career mark (off by about 45 points) and it hasn’t been this low since 2004. If a correction is coming–which isn’t guaranteed due to a low line drive rate–more swings could lead to more hits.
Still, I can’t help but be frustrated with Jeter’s new found tendency to swing early. Maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath and expect him to switch his approach midway through the season, but if there’s a hitter talented enough to do it, it’s Derek.
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