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Derek Jeter's season so far

Two months into his final season, let’s take a look at Derek Jeter’s production in 2014.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

After an injury-filled 2013 campaign that saw Derek Jeter only manage 73 plate appearances over 17 games, he has returned as the Yankees' everyday shortstop in this, his final season.  After two months of baseball, Jeter has performed okay, but certainly nothing like the Jeter we saw in the 2000s.  After 196 plate appearances spanning 44 games this year, Jeter is hitting .269/.337/.320, good for an 85 wRC+.  He's scored a paltry 14 runs so far, which would put him on pace to score 52 over 162 games, significantly lower than the totals he has posted previously in his career.  He's scored more than 100 runs in 14 of his 18 previous seasons, and the lowest he's ever scored over a year was 84 in 2011 (not counting 2013).  Now obviously most people weren't expecting the Jeter of old to show up this season, but that pace is not what the Yankees need from their no. 2 hitter, though runs scored is of course a team-dependent statistic that is not entirely under Jeter's control.

While Jeter's average isn't terrible this season (although nothing close to what he's posted over his career) he seems to have lost a lot of his power.  Never a home run machine - he only exceeded 20 homers in three seasons, and never hit more than 24 - he did manage to produce quite a few extra base hits nonetheless over the course of his career.   From 1996-2012, Jeter averaged about 30 doubles and 15 homers per year.  This season, he's only hit four doubles (a pace of 15 over 162 games) and just one home run so far (to go along with one triple).  When he's been getting hits, they've been mere singles, and his .051 ISO this shows just how one-dimensional Jeter has been.  While he's long been known for that hard opposite-field line drive single, so far this season he's been only a singles hitter, not the player he used to be, who could combine a good OBP with at least a modicum of power.

Jeter could be pressing slightly, as he's swinging at a higher percentage of pitches outside of the zone than he typically has over his career (27.5% O-Swing% in 2014 compared to his 22.5% average since 2002).  His strikeout rate is also higher this season than it has been in some time (16.3%, the highest since his 16.7% rate all the way back in 1997), although at least his walk rate is about in line with his career average (8.2% in 2014 compared to an 8.7% career average).

Of course, the stat everyone loves to talk about with Jeter is how many times he's grounded into a double play.  In 2014, he's grounded into five so far (although there probably would be a couple more if Jacoby Ellsbury hadn't fallen off so sharply in May) which puts him on pace for only somewhere around 17 or 18 this season, a number that isn't outrageous by any means.

Overall, Jeter's been alright this year, but nothing great.  In comparison to his counterparts across the MLB, he has barely even been average, ranking 19th in wRC+ and 21st in fWAR amongst shortstops.  While I still believe Jeter will play better as the season wears on, a final year consisting of a 100 wRC+ is probably the best-case scenario.  Anything more than that is a bit too optimistic, even for a huge Jeter fan like me.  Although the Yankees might be better served dropping him in the lineup and going with Brett Gardner/Ellsbury at the top, that's never going to happen.  Still, I wouldn't count Jeter out just yet - after such a storybook career, there's no doubt he's got a few memorable moments left to add to his highlight reel.