Jeter in 2011

While there is always the small possibility that Jeter doesn’t return in 2011, I think we can all agree it’s on the unlikely side. How unlikely I’m sure we’ll disagree on, but we can probably find common ground in the unlikelihood of a Jeter-less 2011 in the Bronx. How Jeter performs in 2011, though, is obviously a mystery.

In 2008, it looked like the beginning of the end was coming. Aside from his cup of coffee in 1995, 2008 saw Jeter with his worst ever wOBA to that point (.343), second lowest walk rate (7.8%), and lowest IsoP (.107). It was later revealed that Jeter was playing through a hand injury and that was what sapped him of his power. Still, though, we wondered if decline was coming. 2009, though, seemed to erase those doubts.

During that campaign, Jeter put up his fourth highest (.390) wOBA and his .131 IsoP was more in line with hsi career averages. Maybe Derek would be able to keep defying time at the shortstop position.

2010, however, gave us a bit of a reality check. Everything important–AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS/wOBA/wRC+/IsoP–was a career worst for Jeter. We’ve heard no news of an injury, so this seems to be all on Jeter. The only thing Jeter “had” this year was “mid-to-late-thirties-shortstop-itis”. Guys with that tend not to have good seasons.

With a down-up-down swing like that, how can we even come close to predicting what he’s going to do in 2011, which will be his age 37 season?

First, let’s look at his comparable players through age 36 on B-R and see where they were at age 37. Let’s use wOBA as our baseline here.

Roberto Alomar: No age 37 season.
Craig Biggio (2003): .337 in 717 PAs
Frankie Frisch (1936): .325 in 348 PAs
Ted Simmons (1987): .319 in 200 PAs
Robin Yount (1993): .316 in 514 PAs
Charlie Gehringer (1940): .409 in 629 PAs
Johnny Damon: No age 37 season yet.
Cal Ripken (1998): .320 in 659 PAs
Alan Trammell (1995): .312 in 255 PAs
Pete Rose (1978): .351 in 729 PAs

There’s a pretty wide range of values there, but most fall in the .315-.330 range. So, if we go on the comparable players, we can expect Jeter to again be right around league average, or maybe a little worse in 2011. This isn’t a perfectly scientific comparison, though, since these guys all weren’t playing shortstop and some of them were apparently injured during those seasons. Taking a more scientific approach, let’s look at the Bill James projection for Jeter, which is up on FanGraphs.

Long story short, James–whose projections are usually on the optimistic side–peg Jeter at .295/.340/.370 in 703 PAs. That averages out to a .344 wOBA and a 115 wRC+, both of which are pretty much in line with his 2008 season. As un-Jeterian as that seems, I’d sign up for that line in a cocaine heartbeat. Doing some rough calculations…assuming a .327 league wOBA and -5 defense from Jeter (roughly his average UZR/150), that makes Jeter a 2.65 fWAR player in 2011.

That’s not all that great, considering he’s averaged higher than that in his career. However, I’d take that from a 37 year old short stop any day.

Like James, I see a relatively modest offensive rebound for Jeter. If he can do what James said–or even duplicate 2008–I’ll be happy with Jeter in 2011. If, like in 2009, he can rebound from a down year and have a near career year again, well that would just be gravy. We should, however, temper our expectations for Jeter. After all, not many 37 year old shortstops hit an upswing a the plate.

About Matt Imbrogno

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

4 thoughts on “Jeter in 2011

  1. on the qualitative side of things, seems like the scouts’ view is that his bat has slowed. i’m not sure if we can count on a rebound, or neglect the possibility of further deterioration.

  2. So at best Jeter is worth 2 more wins than a replacement level player like Nunez and people wonder why we don’t want to give him 6 years 30 billion dollars to just do whatever he wants, I would love those numbers from a 37 year old SS who is making 6-9 million a year but 20? No thanks.

    If the guy is going to hold him self to Arod standards on money then in turn I think it’s only fair we judge Jeter off of Arod like numbers, with that being said if Derek makes 20 million next season and doesn’t hit 30 HRs and drive in 100 he failed the team.

  3. MLB Rumor says the Yankees and Jeter are currently at a stand still and the Yankees aren’t budging on the 3 year offer, there is apparently a belief that the Yanks will up the money this week but are not willing to offer more years at this point.

    I really hope the Yankes keep this stance, if you have to pay him 19 per year do it but just don’t give him 3 years, I don’t have a very good feeling about 40 year old Derek Jeter (who will at that point have to be moved off SS) making that kind of money guaranteed a spot on the team.

    Also according to MLB Rumor the Yankees negotiations with Mariano are progressing smoothly and it is believed Mo will get 16-17 million but no word yet on the 2nd year, if it were me I would split the differnece and give him the 16-17 million with that exact number on a mutual option for 2012 that way you don’t have to do this next year.

  4. I believe his bat has slowed. Ever see him vs. Papelbon? I haven’t checked it but I know it is a terrible BA. Obviously, that’s usually a close time in the game and this year Papelbon smoked him.

    I think they should pay him based on his BA with the bases loaded in 2010….1 for 21.

    My prediction is this impass will last until spring training.