Via Doug at High Heat Stats -
It’s no secret to any regular readers of this site that Derek Jeter is not in the lineup for his defense. Even a casual fan will probably notice that Jeter seems unusually limited in his range, both to his left and his right. I live on the West Coast and don’t see a great deal of the Yankees, but even in the 10 or 15 games I may see during a season, I’m struck by how often a ball that seems to be hit where you’d expect a shortstop to be able to make a play often results in Jeter taking a step or two towards the ball and then pulling up, as the ball bounces through to the outfield, or is even fielded by the 2nd or 3rd baseman (though, usually, without the opportunity to make a play for an out). Also common to see, especially on plays to his right, is Jeter getting to the ball but not getting off a throw.
Now you may be saying “Why am I picking on Derek Jeter?”, to which my answer is simply the Jeter is the most obvious place to start in evaluating the Yankees infield defense. For some perspective on Jeter, consider:
- Jeter ranks lowest among all players since 1901 at -231 career WAR fielding runs. Jeter passed former teammate Gary Sheffield early in the 2011 season and is the only player at or below the -200 mark.
- Jeter has 13 seasons with Rfield scores of -10 or less. Former teammates Sheffield and Bernie Williams rank 2nd and 3rd with 10 and 8 seasons, respectively.
- In his 18 seasons, Derek has had positive Rfield scores only 3 times, in 1998, 2004 and 2009. Fangraphs has him with only two seasons (2002, 2009) with positive UZR scores.
There’s nothing new here. We all know the metrics and issues with Jeter’s defensive efforts in the field. And, we’ve known it for a long time now.
But, the biggest question on Jeter’s glove work this season is this: If Derek was “that bad” when he was younger and healthier, what’s he going to be like now that he’s 39-years old and has a metal plate and screws in his left ankle for support?
This, my friends, could be very rough to watch.