To say 2011 was a roller coaster type season for Derek Jeter would be a massive understatement. It started way back in 2010 when his contract expired and we endured months of relatively contentious negotiations between Jeter and the Yankee organization, that ultimately ended in a nice contract for Jeter. We heard he was going to make some swing adjustments after enduring a career worst year at the plate in 2010. During the offseason, I kept repeating something: There is no way Derek Jeter can be as bad in 2011 as he was in 2010. Yet for part of the season, it looked like he would actually do worse than he did in 2010.
His start was slower than slow as he racked up a measly .261/56 wOBA/wRC+ in the season’s first month. May was kinder to Jeter as he rebounded to a .321/97 split. June, though, was another rough month for Jeter. He hit .293/77 and eventually got hurt. When he returned in July, though, he became the Derek Jeter we’re used to seeing. In July, he posted a .352/118 split, followed by a torrid .398/149 August, and a solid .343/113 September. Before his injury, Jeter hit .260/.324/.324/.648. From his return in early July on, he hit .331/.384/.447/.831.
There are a few things that seem odd about Jeter’s season. Firt, his walk rate dropped from last year and his Iso also dropped. Those are two things that should signal a drop in production. However, Jeter raised his wOBA/wRC+ from .320/94 in 2010 to .332/104 in 2011. There were two areas where we saw some welcomed rebounds from Jeter. His BABIP went back up to .336 (from .307 in 2010) and his line drive percentage shot back up from 16.1% to 19.0%. And though it seemed like every ball Jeter hit was on the ground, his GB% dropped from 65.7% to 62.4%.
Like Alex Rodriguez, 2011 isn’t nearly as intriguing as 2012 and beyond will be. Can Jeter stay healthy? How much longer will he be the starting shortstop? Will he continue to bat leadoff, even against RHP? Just what can we expect from him going forward? 2010 and 2011 have definitely signaled the beginning of the end for Jeter, even if the latter part of 2011 was more reminiscent of vintage Derek Jeter. I’m hopeful that the post DL Jeter (read: healthy Jeter) can show himself more in 2012. We’re probably not going to see .341/.384/.447 Jeter for a whole year anymore. Honestly, if he can replicate 2011 going forward, I think that’d be acceptable, especially considering his age and position.