Wednesday, October 17, 2012


A sideways look at Derek Jeter's "retirement" home...
The jibe of the day is that the Yankees finally have the Tigers right where they want them, anxious as they are to eliminate the lone remaining artifact of uniqueness from their even more fallen rivals to the north (in case you have your "harsh vowel filter" in the permanent "on" position...that's the Boston Red Sox).

Storming back from 0-3 will have to begin with C.C. Sabathia, but however far the Yanks get in such a pursuit, they'll be doing it without Derek Jeter. The Yankee captain and Florida real estate kingpin is sidelined with a broken ankle, suffered a few innings after he collected his record 200th post-season hit.

A "98% tilt" would seem to be in order for the man who invented the faux verb
"jeterate"....which, appropriately enough, is highly applicable to his own bad self.
As the king of low-key, "tasteful" hubris and hate-object of basement-dwellers across this scarred land is fitted for a cast that will miraculously complement his oddly matched eyes and painstakingly asymmetrical facial stubble, we thought we'd share a few basic facts about his hitting career--you know, the things that have been kicked to the curb by pasty white sportswriters who've needed to change jobs with alarming frequency of late and whose next gig (according to our alien sources, at any rate...) will be for a sports venture called "Sports On Uranus."

So let's start with some random fun facts. Did you know, for example, that Jeter hit .388 this year when he was the DH? Too bad he wasn't playing in that capacity last Sunday night. 2012 was the first season in which Derek started more than 20 games at DH (he's up to 54 in his career at this point), and it's going to become an increasing feature of his future play.

While Jeter has been batting leadoff almost exclusively for the Yankees since 2009, he has batted second for them a good bit more often (1313 games in the #2 slot vs. 978 at #1). There is not much separation in his offensive numbers to be found in this breakout.

Jeter is a somewhat stronger finisher--.843 OPS in the second half as opposed to .817 in the first half.

Derek hits a good deal better when there are no outs in the inning (.886 OPS, as opposed to .791 with one out and .796 with two out). He's been a good deal less effective against relief pitchers (.754 OPS lifetime, as opposed to .865 against starters).

He has suffered a good bit against right-handed pitchers as he's aged. His SLG against them nosedived below .400 in 2007 and dipped under .350 in 2010-11. Though 2012 was better, he was still only back up to .377. He's compensated for this by hitting lefties at a prodigious rate for the past two years (close to .360). That's going to have to continue if he's going to be productive in the future.

The chart at left shows Jeter's breakout against the opponents he's faced in at least 100 games. It is quite probably a big surprise to discover that he's hit the worst against the Red Sox.

He's also proven to be good at taking advantage of weaker teams (his lifetime OPS is seventy points higher against losing teams), and he's clearly enjoyed great success against in-season opponents from the National League.

We can also break this down by ballpark, where we continue to see some interesting surprises. Jeter's favorite park over the years was Jacobs Field (now called Progressive Park), and it looks as though he's sorry that the Brewers switched leagues. He's hit extremely well in Oakland, where the ballpark is not at all welcoming to hitters.

He hit much better in old Yankee Stadium that in his team's new home, though that could be connected with aging. He didn't hit well in the Kingdome (Seattle's old park which favored hitters) but he's thrived in pitcher-friendly Safeco.

But we again see that Derek just doesn't hit well against Boston--and the data here makes it clear that it's a Fenway Park problem for the Captain.

So many gift baskets, so little time...
In fact, the only place that Derek hits worse is--yes, that's right--in the very place where the Yankees are trying to battle back from 0-3. A kind of surreal connection point, to be sure--he gets hurt just before the team is headed to his least favorite park, and his replacement (Eduardo Nunez) hits a homer in the first game they play there.

All of the above (and none of the clatter about his highly-discussed defensive deficiencies) serves to reinforce the notion that Derek will be a first-ballot Cooperstown selection five years after he hangs up his cleats. And, as our final diagram indicates, he's already something of a Hall of Famer with the fact, it's that very thing that probably explains his lack of staying power in the batter's box as the game goes into the late innings. Given his preternatural penchants, Derek is almost certainly trying to tailor his inning-by-inning performance curve to fit the curves of these ladies--leaving himself some wiggle room for the post-game ritual (complete, as the world now knows only too well, with "gift basket").