Part of the issue that others and I have had with Derek Jeter in the past two seasons or so has been that, despite still mashing lefties, Jeter has struggled pretty mightily against right handed pitching of late. Part of my fear was reduced in the beginning of this year. In April of 2012, Jeter hit Yankees pretty damn well. He hit .308 against similar handed pitchers with a .375 OBP and a solid .462 SLG. While April gave me no reason to fret when Jeter stepped up against righties, May and June have been a different story. Since May 1, Derek has regressed mightily against righties. He’s hit just .261 with a .314 OBP and a .312 (!) SLG (.051 Iso). While some of this is definitely a case of regression–since 2010, Jeter has hit .264/.323/.333 against righties–that doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking into at a deeper level.
I took a look at the Pitch F/X to see if Jeter was getting pitched any differently and if that would lead to the downturn. Here are the numbers from April and here are the numbers for May and June (not including last night). In terms of what he’s been pitched, it’s been pretty much the same–mostly fastballs and two-seamers. And the results haven’t been that different. He’s whiffing a bit more on four seamers since May, but against two seamers, that number has dropped drastically. On both pitches, though, he’s putting more balls into play. Perhaps that is leading to weaker contact. In April, Jeter had a .340 BABIP against righties; since then, it’s been okay, but much lower at .300. The low slugging and low BABIP against RHP since May definitely show us that Jeter’s no longer stinging the ball against righties.
Is there much Jeter can do? Honestly, I’m not sure. And if there IS something he could do, it’s something he’d have to work out with Kevin Long and it’s not something I’d be able to point out easily. It’s possibly that this just is who he is at this point. If that’s the case, the team might want to consider altering the lineup against righties, but that’s unlikely to happen or make a big difference.
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