Derek Jeter has heard it from his critics this season. Earlier in the week, Baseball Tonight was discussing not if, but how the Yankees should go about moving Jeter from the lead-off spot in the order. There was a debate about whether Joe Girardi could pull the trigger, or like Cal Ripken, Jeter as captain would have to go to Girardi and ask to be moved down for the good of the team. After hitting two home runs against the Rangers earlier today, is he now going to start to dig himself out of trouble? In my opinion, no.
For fantasy purposes, it was easy to notice that Jeter could be in for a rough season. Last season he had 10 home runs in 739 plate appearances, the lowest rate he has had since he was 23 years old. Last year Jeter saw an enormous spike in his ground ball rate that was about 10% over his career rate at that point in his career. Analysts figured this year he would find a way to start squaring balls up again, but the ground ball trend has actually continued to get worse. Jeter’s ground ball rate is up over 70% for the season – 13% higher than what it is for his career.
The two home runs today provide evidence that maybe something clicked, but watching some of this game on TBS I didn’t have that impression. Jeter’s second bomb came off of Arthur Rhodes. It was classic Jeter pushing the ball out to right field, and he certainly got good wood on it, but the wind was also an asset on this day in Arlington. When Curtis Granderson followed Jeter’s home run with one of his own, it suggested that Rhodes’ ineffectiveness played its part too. I don’t want to take anything away from hitting a home run off of an MLB fast ball because this game just isn’t that simple, but this home run wasn’t earned like other ones have been.
If the power was the only problem with Jeter, Baseball Tonight and the rest of the baseball community wouldn’t be criticizing him as vocally as they have done to this point. He is also below his career norms in line drive rate, walk rate, runs and RBI, above his career norms in infield pop ups, and without a single stolen base. For a guy with over 300 career steals, that’s an issue. Jeter could just be off to a slow start, but as he closes in on his 37th birthday I’m more inclined to say that he’s just plain slow.
- Drew Stubbs hit his sixth home run for the Reds. He’s on pace for a 29 HR/52 SB season.
- Torii Hunter had the day off, but has been hitting the ball better of late. He is .161 lifetime against Faosto Carmona.
- Andre Ethier has a one game hitting streak and hit his fourth home run of the season. I was at the game on Saturday when the streak ended. Oops.
- Brian McCann caught Jair Jurrjens tonight for the first time this season, so unfortunately fantasy teams will have to guess when McCann will get his rest. Jurrjens did fine with McCann behind the plate as he left the game with the lead opposite Cole Hamels.
- B.J. Upton had his third multi-hit game in as many days. There was a lot of talk about Upton being moved after Manny Ramirez left the Rays and Evan Longoria sat on the disabled list in early April. The Rays are currently tied for first in the A.L. East and Upton’s 22 RBI are a huge reason why.
- Jose Bautista played in his first game in a week after sitting out with a sore neck and didn’t miss a beat hitting his tenth home run of the season.
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