We all know by now that Derek Jeter is not the player he was in 2006, although when the decline started is still subject to some debate. We also know that offense is down (again) across baseball this year, and many fine offensive infielders (Hanley, Uggla, Pedrioa) are having uncharacteristically bad seasons where age wouldn’t be considered a factor. With this in mind, I wanted to take a look at how Derek stacks up at his position for the 2011 season, both offensively and defensively.
I’ll use the Fangraphs leader board for this exercise. First, we’ll start with the basics. His .262 BA ranks 18th among the 25 qualifiers. His .329 OBP puts him at 14th. His .300 wOBA comes in at 14th as well. Defensively, he surprisingly holds up better than he does with his bat. He’s 10th in UZR/150 at -0.3. His supporters will point to how sure handed he is with the glove, and his 6th ranked +1.6 ErrR bears this out. But his overall DRS comes in at -4, which ties him for 13th with Boston’s Jed Lowrie. All totaled, Derek ranks 16th among all MLB shortstops in WAR at 0.6 for the season. At roughly the 1/3 mark of the season, that would project to 1.8 WAR for the year, which would be the lowest mark of his 17 year career, and even lower than his disappointing 2.8 WAR from 2010.
The Yanks may want to keep him in the lead off spot so as to not take anything away from his march to 3000, but even on his own team his .329 OBP ranks 7th among the 9 starters, and his .327 SLG ranks 9th. The Yanks may be able to live with Derek as their SS for another year or so, but once his milestone is out of the way they need to take a serious look at batting him in the bottom of the order. That’s what his production calls for at this point of his career.
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