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Around the Yankee Universe: Jeter CAN play shortstop

While we wait for tonight to determine the fate of Chien-Ming Wang's spot in the rotation, let's look around the Yankee Universe.

  • More praise for Derek Jeter's defense? What is the world coming to? And what is the 'Derek Jeter sucks at shortstop' crowd going to complain about now?

Defensive statistics don't necessarily provide a full picture of a player's fielding ability. In Jeter's case, though, virtually all the numbers point to noticeable improvement between 2008 and 2009.

He committed only two errors in his first 59 games at shortstop this year for a .992 fielding percentage. That is the best mark in a season during Jeter's big-league career, which began in 1995. (Last year, he had a .979 fielding percentage.)

The statistics at tell the same story. Jeter has positive zone and range ratings this year, suggesting that he's been better than the big-league average. The same numbers were negative for him in 2008.

Jeter turns 35 later this month and left Tuesday's game in the eighth inning with a stiff left ankle. While scouts may be hesitant to say that Jeter's range has actually improved, they seem comfortable with the notion that it hasn't declined.

And there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that improved positioning has helped Jeter reach more balls. He made a superb play on Alex Cora's ground ball up the middle in the second inning of Saturday's game against the Mets. Yankees first base coach Mick Kelleher, a former infielder, said Jeter has adapted in the same way that Cal Ripken Jr. did in the latter stages of his career.

"Just like Ripken, you adjust in other ways," Kelleher said. "His 'ready' position is better. His angles to the balls are great. He continues to work at it."

  • If you live near Trenton and are headed to the Thunder game tonight, I have got to get one of these. ('Kudos' to Mike Ashmore).


Seriously, if you're going to the game I need one of these.

  • First-round pick Slade Heathcott took batting practice at the Stadium Tuesday.
  • Home Run Tracker: In case you haven't noticed it, we have added a Yankee Stadium Home Run Tracker to left-hand column of the home page. It will be updated after each home game. By the way, a home run has still been hit in every game at the Stadium this season, but the pace has slowed just a bit.

Yankee Stadium Home Run Tracker

Games Played: 33
Home Runs Hit: 115
Stadium Record:
303, Coors Field, 1999
Tuesday Homers: Hernandez (Washington)
(See them all)

(thru 6/16/09)

  • Get out and vote! Kevin Youkilis has passed Mark Teixeira in voting for the American League starting first baseman in the All-Star Game. C'mon, Yankee fans! We can't have that.