It’s hard to imagine now, but there was actual concern this spring that Derek Jeter may not return to form in 2014. Well, the captain is proving naysayers wrong with each game so far this season.
Jeter, who is playing in his final season, is off to a solid start at the plate. There has been little, if any, signs of rust as he is batting .294 with a .385 OBP so far this year. Once again, Jeter is on pace to produce the type of season we are used to seeing out of the captain. I think the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury has helped him a lot. Having a table-setter on base in front of him, opens up that hole on the right side, a spot he has made a career out of exposing. On top of Ellsbury leading things off, he also has Carlos Beltran hitting directly behind him for protection. Jeter should see plenty of quality pitches at the plate as long as he is surrounded by those two.
I understand the argument made that Jeter is hurting the team defensively. I understand it, but I don’t entirely agree with it. Are there ground balls that Jeter doesn’t get to anymore? Sure. But he still makes all of the plays that a SS is supposed to make. He won’t be winning a gold glove one last time, but the Yankees don’t need him too. He just needs to do what he has done for years, make the routine plays and keep running out there every day he’s capable of.
His presence on the field alone is beneficial to the Yankees. There’s no sabremetric for this, but when players look around and see Jeter out there, they give that extra effort. No one wants to let Jeter down, he is one of those guys that brings out the best of the players around him. There will be games that a ball gets through the hole, that someone else may have gotten to, but those are plays you will just have to live with. Jeter knows the game as well as anyone in baseball, he understands his diminished range, but he also knows how to properly position himself to get the most out of his abilities.
Manager Joe Girardi, has done a nice job early on giving Jeter days off as he feels necessary. There will certainly be times that Jeter will want to be in the line up when Giaradi holds him out, but he’s doing whats best for the team. Girardi won’t give into the pressure to put the captain in the line up everyday, despite this being Jeter’s farewell tour. He knows he will need Jeter the most during the final stretch of the season, and he plans on having him fresh for those games.
One thing I’ve learned throughout Jeter’s career, never doubt the captain.