Derek Jeter: Elegy for a lost season

Sad Jeter is sad. - Patrick Smith

2013 will be a year to forget for the Yankee captain.

It's finally over. After a multitude of rehabs, returns and trips to the disabled list, Derek Jeter has at long last been shut down for the rest of the 2013 season. And for all that work in trying to get back to playing, all he has to show for it is 17 games played in which he hit worse than Chris Stewart overall. It's undoubtedly a disappointing conclusion for a player as competitive as Jeter and one that is in the twilight of his career.

It all began on that fateful day of October 12th, 2012, when Jeter landed on his left ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS. Just watching the injury in real-time, you knew that it was going to be a long road back before Jeter would appear in another game. But as Jeter began the necessary steps in his recovery, it seemed to be one setback after another in his quest to get back onto the field. The initial timetable had his return set as early as May. Then a setback in April, pushed his projected return back until after the All-Star Break. And then the yo-yo really started spinning.

July 11th, then DL

July 28th - Aug 2nd, then DL

August 27th- September 6th, then DL

That's a cruel tease for both the athlete and the fan. And of all the Yankees' injuries, Jeter's was the most frustrating. Mark Teixeira came back, and was shut down relatively quickly. Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez have both made triumphant returns from their various ailments to help the team to crawl within one game of the final Wild Card spot. But Jeter was mostly a non-factor, his only real moment of greatness being his triumphant July 28th return, as he smacked a ball over the right field fence in his first plate appearance. At least we'll have that amazing memory.

But in the end it was an exercise in futility. Jeter looked bad at the plate and even worse in the field. Derek has often had his defense derided by wicked SABR goons, scouts and non-Yankees' fans, but even for the most positive supporter it was painful to see how slow he was getting to balls hit his way. And as a hitter, he was barely able to generate any power to the opposite field. The line drives we've come accustomed to just weren't bouncing off of his bat. Weak grounders were now the norm.

So in the end, it's probably all for the best. He wasn't really helping the team, and the Yankees already have enough players that don't seem to do very much to help the cause. This way, he'll be able to focus on getting well and being ready to go for the 2014 season. There will certainly be millions of words spent on prognosticating what the 2014 version of Jeter will be capable of, but it really is just a blind guess at this point. The stance that seems inarguable at this juncture: the Yankees better have a proper backup plan this time around. And no, Jayson Nix doesn't count.

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