September 30, 2014

What’s Next For Derek Jeter?

July 11, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Even before Yankees shortstop and captain Derek Jeter belted his 3,000th career hit, fans and media wondered aloud what would happen to him once he reached the coveted mark.  It’s not that we all expect him to turn into a pumpkin or anything, but the question remains: will the Yankees be willing to keep running him out to shortstop every day considering he’s now a sub-par hitter and always has been a below average fielder (don’t throw his five Gold Gloves at me, either; Jeter is worth -131 Total Fielding Runs Above Average in 17 years), who will command $16 and $17 million over the next two seasons.  And if not shortstop, where?

It’s been suggested that they could move him to DH, which would save them from having to endure two or three more years of little to nothing keeping baseballs from making their way into left field, but who wants a DH who’s on pace to hit six homers runs and drive home only 46?  On the other hand, they chose to overpay for him and as long as they’re signing his checks, what else are they supposed to do?

Regardless of where the Yankees put him, even if it means keeping him at shortstop, it’s quite possible they’ll be able to squeeze a few more milestones out of him, and that’s always a good way to put fannies in the seats.  If his 3,000th hit is any indication, we’ll also be subjected to more coverage than an assassination attempt, space shuttle disaster and presidential election combined, but what the heck.  If it’s good for baseball, it’s good for us.

Using two of my favorite Bill James creations—The Favorite Toy and the Brock 2—here’s what the Yankees, their fans and baseball fans in general can expect our of Jeter over the next few years.

Below is The Favorite Toy and later we’ll look at the Brock 2.

Seasons (age)
3-YR AVG To Date Proj. Car. 3000 3500 4000 4189 4256 MAX (1%)
1995-1997 (23) 98.7 385 1322 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2241
1996-1998 (24) 188.7 588 2286 20% 8% 0% 0% 0% 3950
1997-1999 (25) 199.2 807 2499 27% 13% 3% 0% 0% 4159
1998-2000 (26) 208.0 1008 2672 34% 17% 6% 2% 1% 4303
1999-2001 (27) 208.3 1199 2761 37% 18% 6% 2% 1% 4293
2000-2002 (28) 196.0 1390 2762 35% 15% 3% 0% 0% 4106
2001-2003 (29) 185.2 1546 2749 33% 12% 0% 0% 0% 3929
2002-2004 (30) 178.8 1734 2807 35% 11% 0% 0% 0% 3858
2003-2005 (31) 174.3 1936 2894 40% 11% 0% 0% 0% 3834
2004-2006 (32) 197.0 2150 3135 66% 23% 3% 0% 0% 4100
2005-2007 (33) 206.7 2356 3286 94% 31% 7% 1% 0% 4197
2006-2008 (34) 205.5 2535 3357 97% 35% 6% 0% 0% 4162
2007-2009 (35) 198.0 2747 3440 97% 42% 5% 0% 0% 4116
2008-2010 (36) 190.0 2926 3496 97% 49% 3% 0% 0% 4054
2009-2011* (37) 192.2 3085 3565* X 66% 3% 0% 0% 4036

* 2011 hit total based on projection, which also impacts overall hit total.

As you can see, the only time Jeter had no chance at 3,000 hits was after his first three years in the bigs, and that’s only because I counted his 15-game cup of coffee in 1995. Once he gets three full seasons under his belt it’s 3,000 hits or bust, and it only took him until the age of 32 to have a better than 50% chance of reaching the milestone. Thanks to recent events, Jeter makes The Favorite Toy look pretty good. Early on in his career, he had a slim chance of catching Ty Cobb and Pete Rose, and had a 1% chance of notching more then 4,300 hits after his age 26 season, but was never really a legitimate contender for the Hit King’s throne.

Even now at age 37 and hitting only .270 in his last 952 at-bats, well below the .318 he hit from 1996-2009, The Favorite Toy gives him a 66% chance at 3,500 hits and an estimated career total of 3,565. Were Jeter to reach that total, he would rank fifth all-time behind Stan Musial and just ahead of Tris Speaker, and only Ty Cobb would have more hits among American Leaguers. And even if he doesn’t he has a chance to pass a lot of legends, including some who spent time in New York, like Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield and Willie Mays.

Here are the Brock 2 projections:

Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb

Tris Speaker (left) and Ty Cobb, two of the greatest players of all time

Brock 2 (3.65 Floor)
Age Projected Hits
22 2824
23 2941
24 3113
25 3484
26 3514
27 3144
28 3116
29 3031
30 3059
31 3147
32 3508
33 3591
34 3572
35 3799
36 3652
37 3321

At age 35, the Brock 2 gave Jeter a legitimate shot at Hank Aaron at number three all time.  After his first full-season sub-100 OPS+ last year, he still had a shot at Musial.  But his projected numbers for 2011—I have him getting 159 hits this year—has him gunning for Eddie Collins at number 10 and Paul Molitor at number nine when all is said and done.  The slim chance Jeter once had of catching and passing Pete Rose has long since died, but if he can hold on for a few more years, even at his current offensive levels, he still has a shot at cracking the top 10 before he’s through.  Whether it’ll be as the Yankees’ shortstop is another story.

Comments

One Response to “What’s Next For Derek Jeter?”
  1. Paul Dunn says:

    I expected the usual cliches about Jeter’s poor fielding,etc. Jeter knows how the game is supposed to be played. He has provided great performances in many clutch situations and has taken a physical pounding (see 2001 W.S.). You and Bill James have your respective opinions and I am not about to try and change them. Nevertheless, to paraphrase a line from the movie Gattica-there is no number for the human heart.

    Best Regards

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