What To Expect From Derek Jeter In 2012

After facing scrutiny nearly all of last offseason for the way his new contract negotiations were being publicly handled, this offseason has had a much different feel to it. Derek Jeter's name hasn't been thrown around very often since the Yankees lost Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series.

Jeter, who unbelievably turns 38 in June, eclipsed the 3,000 hit mark on July 10 last year and appears to have a decent amount of baseball left in him.

Although, frankly, it didn't seem like it last June.

Just as he was DL'd running out a routine fly ball to right field, Jeter was merely 68 for 232 (.260) while reaching base and slugging at a clip of .324. In 62 games, he had only 12 extra base hits to show for.

While he very well may have been feeling the pressure to knock his 3,000th hit out of the way quickly in order to turn attention to more important issues, such as winning games, it was evident that Jeter didn't look quite right.

All that changed when he came off the disabled list on July 4.

From July 4 to September 28 (69 games), Jeter went on an absolute rampage:

94 for 284 (.331), .384 OBP, .447 SLG, and a .390 BAbip - Bref

Everything Jeter hit found grass. "El Capitan" was back and looked ten years younger. This could very well be attributed to Gary Denbo, Jeter's former hitting instructor in the minor leagues, who spent time with Jeter while he was rehabbing.

But the reality is that he's not getting any younger. So what exactly can we expect from Derek Jeter in 2012?

The following is essentially a chart of Jeter's ball-in-play tendencies broken down into line drives, groundballs and fly balls.

March 31 – June 11 (62 games)

July 4 – Sept. 28 (69 games)

Groundballs

153 (66.0%)

136 (58.9%)

Fly Balls

52 (22.4%)

34 (14.7%)

Line Drives

27 (11.4%)

61 (26.4%)

Total Balls in Play

232

231

As you can see, something clearly clicked for the captain. With a virtually identical sample size of balls hit into play, the change in distribution between his pre-DL and post-DL play is incredible.

While there could possibly be some disparity between what constitutes a fly ball or line drive, his decrease in amount of balls hit on the ground can't be disputed.

Here's another look:

Groundballs

Fly Balls

Line Drives

Pre-DL (62 games)

153 (52.9%)

52 (60.5%)

27 (30.7%)

Post-DL (69 games)

136 (47.1%)

34 (39.5%)

61 (69.3%)

Total # of times event occurred

289

86

88

Jeter hit nearly 70% of his total line drives in 2011 after he adjusted his swing during his rehabilitation time down in Tampa, Fl.

While I'm not implying that Jeter is going to keep up these insane numbers, I'd say it's a safe bet to expect Derek Jeter to have an above-average season if he maintains whatever he did after his calf injury.

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