Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Derek Jeter Debate Continues

I know what you are thinking. Another Jeter post? I can't help it, this keeps on getting more and more interesting. Derek Jeter is now two hits away from 3,000 and has been back for four games since coming off the disabled list. In all four games Jeter has batted lead off and the Yankees record is 1-3. Keep in mind the Yankees were 14-4 while Jeter was out. The Yankees went from trailing the Red Sox in the standings with Jeter, to taking the lead in the division without him, to falling back behind the Red Sox in the four games since he has been back in the lineup. It has led to a division among Yankee fans about what to do with Jeter.

Don Mattingly, was also a Yankee captain and he made some interesting comments on the Michael Kay Show. "Sometimes you have to put your ego aside and do what's best for the team" said Mattingly when asked about his 1995 season and moving down in the order. Mattingly was no longer the hitter he used to be in 1995 and he realized that and instead of making his manager's job even tougher, he would make it easier. Mattingly volunteered to move out of the #3 spot in the order in 1995 because he knew that Paul O'Neill deserved to be there and more importantly the Yankee captain knew it would make the team better. This is what a captain should do and so far Jeter is reluctant to do the right thing. It appears he is going to leave it in the hands of his manager which will only further the divide among the growing faction of Yankee fans and it may even cause a problem in the Yankee clubhouse. Jeter can stop all of this by doing the right thing, by doing what Mattingly did in 1995.

Joel Sherman had the following things to say about Jeter and the issue of him leading off and playing every day:
  • Nobody comes to see the Yankees play, they come to see the Yankees win and currently Joe Girardi has the worst hitter in the lineup leading off and getting more at bats than anyone else in that lineup.
  • Jeter has a .690 OPS over the last two seasons. The small sample size excuse is no longer valid.
  • Jeter is one of the lowest extra base percentage guys in the MLB
  • Jeter is hitting .179 with runners in scoring position. The clutch argument and the intangible argument are no longer valid.
  • Jeter hits line drives only 4% of the time, the third worst percentage in all of baseball.
  • Brett Gardner should be leading off. His OBP is forty points higher, he has more speed than Jeter, making him more likely to steal a base, go from first to third base on single and score more often from second base on a hit than Jeter would. These are all things that make a difference between wins and losses and can help explain the Yankees record with Jeter in the lineup and when he is not in the lineup.
Many Yankee fans understand these things and really think Jeter's days leading off are over and also think that he shouldn't be out there every single day. Then there are the Jeter apologists. The classic one is Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay. Here are some of Michael Kay's thoughts:

  • You can't disrespect Derek by moving him down in the lineup, it will crush his soul. There is no reason to do that.
  • I would sacrifice a season or two in order not to disrespect Derek Jeter.
  • Brett Gardner is not Rickey Henderson so there is no reason you have to move Jeter out of the lead off spot.

The debate continues.

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