Loss of Jeter emotionally devastating, but not decisive on the field

Tough break

As Yankee fans rub the sand out of their eyes this morning, many must be wondering if last night was a crazy dream. Did the moribund Yankee offense actually score 4 runs in an inning, much less the 9th? Did Raul Ibanez actually do it again? That’s not possible, right? And lastly the invincible Yankee captain, known to shrug off serious injuries that would sideline mere mortals and still perform at a high level, did Derek Jeter actually sustain an injury that will sideline him for the rest of the playoffs? As you know, the answer to all of the above is yes. As expected members of the New York media (the usual suspects) are already throwing dirt on the Yankee season, saying this too much for the team to overcome. Some of them I’m sure were just grumpy after tearing up their original copy and putting in a late night thanks to the last minute heroics of Ichiro and Ibanez. But I’m here to make the case that the Yanks can get through this, and perhaps this is just what this team needed.

First, as great a talent as Jeter is, let’s not overstate his impact in any individual game. Look at his stats vs his replacement for the season. You’re substituting a .316/.362/.429 (.791 OPS) player in Jeter with a .243/.306/.384 (.690) player in Nix. That’s 100 points of OPS, or roughly 1 base of production every 2 games. Further, we all know that Derek Jeter’s range leaves much to be desired. Fangraphs has his range at -15.2 UZR this season while Nix is at -5.6 UZR for his career at SS. If Nix can make one extra play every two games, converting a single to an out, the difference in offense is wiped out completely. Were dealing in a small sample of games, as little as 3 or as many as 6, so stuff like this isn’t asking too much.

Next, this may just be the wake up call the Yankee lineup needs. this post season the Yankee lineup has had more no-shows than players that have actually produced. A-Rod gets all the attention, but with the exception of Jeter/Tex/Ichiro every other Yankee regular has been disturbingly quiet. As Buster Olney tweeted this morning Cano, Granderson, Rodriguez, Swisher and Chavez are a combined 10 for 104 (.096) with 37 strikeouts in the 2012 post season. If just one of those players wakes up and has a big game, you more than make up the difference between Jeter and his replacement.

So take heart Yankee fans. Jeter is a huge star, the Yankee captain and the team leader both on and off the field. But this isn’t as bad as it would be if, say the Yanks lost Sabathia or the Tigers lost Miguel Cabrera. Minimizing the loss of Jeter isn’t wishful thinking, its a matter of understanding the difference between an everyday player’s impact over the course of a long season and the difference between him and his replacement in a smattering of games.

13 thoughts on “Loss of Jeter emotionally devastating, but not decisive on the field

  1. roadrider

    Yeah, if Cano or Granderson suddenly remembered how to hit that would be probably more than make up for the difference in offensive production between Jeter and Nix. However, Nix hits lefties a lot better than righties so the difference between him and Jeter in this series might be more than the overall numbers suggest since the Tigers are so righty heavy.

    As far as the difference in defense outweighing the difference in offensive production – well, you have a lot more faith in UZR than I do. For example, how reliable are Nix’ UZR numbers since he is a part-time player? I just don’t trust UZR enough to agree with that argument.

    Hey, I’m hoping that we get some Peter Kozma type action out of Nix but there’s no question that losing Derek Jeter is a significant blow to the Yankees’ chances.

    • I used the 2012 UZR for Jeter, and the career number for Nix since he’s a part time player. I don’t think its a stretch to think Nix can get to the occasional ball that Jeter would miss at age 38. If he does, just once or twice this series, the offensive difference is wiped out.

  2. tjo161

    Sorry to so quickly jump off the subject of Jeter, but the mere mention of defense in your post evokes two ENORMOUS blunders by that boob in right field. Detroit’s scored its’ first run after he allowed a ball to drop right at his feet. It happened about 50 feet in front of me. I was as shocked then as I am angry now. Then, that play in the 12th. . . good God. THE crucial moment in the first game of a championship series and this moron decides he wants to practice his tumbling like a kindergartener??? Forget the strike outs. He’s been very helpful circulating the air around home plate. I’ve never quite understood the sabermetric valuation of his game. Being older and somewhat more traditional, I’ve always held to a more visceral analysis, namely watching the game played out in front of me. There’s no adequate way to quantify the stark difference between a game against the Twins in May and last night. For four years in fraught post-season games, the real Swish-a-licious has shone through. He is an awful baseball player when it counts. And, as much as I detest him and that smirk on his face, I don’t think there’s an argument. Whether they play three, five or thirteen more games, I long for the day when that grossly overrated clown takes his sorry act on the road. (I’ll help him pack and drive him to the airport).

    • bornwithpinstripes

      boy i could not have said it better, you are a gentleman.. i would only have expletives towards this fraud..he melts in the lights of legends…

  3. OldYanksFan

    Well said. This is much more of an emotional blow then an on-the-field blow. Our hearts have been broken at this cruel fate. However, the truth is while we are all amazed at and celebrate Jeter’s hitting this year, we do so without even blinking at his defense. I KNOW his foot had been slowing him down, but much like Teixiera, if Jeter can’t fall on a ball, he won’t catch it. His range this PS has been microscopic. The ball he injured himself on was a routine GB. There have already been at least 3 hits (pasta diving Jeter) that were really quite routine.

    According to ESPN (not the best, but you get the idea), of 17 qualifying SS’s, Jeter is:

    1st in BA (of 17)
    2nd in OPS (of 17)
    13th in WAR (of 17)…
    and Jeter had 10% or more ABs theh many of the guys above him in WAR.

    I am NOT hating on Jeter.
    I love the guy.
    But seeing Offense is a LOT more obvious then seeing Defense.
    And yes, I know defensive Stats are questionable, but there is absolutely no doubt, that Jeter gives away many of the Runs he makes.

    So even if he is 8th in WAR (not 13th), that makes him middle-of-the-pack AVERAGE.

    • Most people focus only on offense and take range, good or bad, for granted. If a ball goes through the hole its on the pitcher, then someone like Nunez plays there for a day or two and you say “Wow, I didn’t think that play could be made!” What would be a hit by the opposing team that gets converted to an out is every bit as valuable as getting a hit at bat. A run prevented is just as valuable as run scored. It just isn’t measured properly.

      • roadrider

        If a ball goes through the hole its on the pitcher, then someone like Nunez plays there for a day or two and you say “Wow, I didn’t think that play could be made!”

        There’s been plenty of times when I said that after watching a Nunez play – unfortunately, it was rarely a good thing.

  4. hawaii dave

    Sabertronic stats are nothing more than stats. I call them, pretty boy fancy stats. Like any stats, they are useful to a degree, but like all stats, all they are is a description of yesterdays news. So if history repeated itself 100% of the time, Saberstatic stats would be neat-o. But history does not repeat itself, so, in the final analysis, all these prancy, fancy stats do is tell me what happened yesterday, and can actually fail miserably at predicting what will happen tomorrow. And any evaluation system that values walks more than singles has got to be suspect. Stats are yesterday’s news…I can read the wrap-up for that, rather than spend hours trying to learn ultra complicated ways to find out 2+2 = 4.

    • roadrider

      I think you misunderstand the entire concept of statistics be they traditional, bubble-gum card stats or the newer advanced variety (not all of which I find useful – see under UZR).

      You’re absolutely right that statistics tell you what happened yesterday but absolutely wrong to dismiss them because they can “fail” at predicting what will happen tomorrow. No one who knows what they’re talking about claims that statistics provide perfect predictions about the future. What they do is tell you what is most likely to happen given the same conditions (which is not always the case). Just because a guy has a low OBP or BA doesn’t mean he won’t get a key hit. That doesn’t mean you want that guy taking at bats away from guys with better numbers (all things, matchups, health, current performance trends being equal of course). Sorry, but that’s the best any empirical measurement technique can do.

      And I don’t think anyone is saying that walks should be valued more than singles. But they should be valued as much – which batting average does not! Why don’t you ask the Cardinals the value of walks? Without two key walks their miracle rally against the Nats doesn’t get off the ground. Walks are often a key component to big innings because they put pressure on the pitcher to make more hittable pitches and put guys on base without allowing the defense a chance to record an out (average BABIP is around .300).

      Don’t want to read posts about stats? That’s fine – it’s your privilege. But then stick to it and don’t bother pissing on those posts in the comments.

      • hawaii dave

        I love walks…I pray for walks whenever the Rod, Swisher, Grandy, and Cano come to the plate…I just like singles more…..I don’t really have problems w Sabertronix, it’s just so much genius is attached to them and i think it’s unwarranted.

  5. Dante

    Good stuff. Better written, more informative, more factual than any mainstream Lupica, Madden , etc. nonsense

  6. Dante

    Hawaii Dave,
    Stats, yesterday’s news is really what informs the present and the future. What else is there? Is someone going to hire me to play ss because I look tough? Fancy, prancy stats, experience is what we put on our resumes. It’s what gets people promotions. Yes, there are intagibles, but it seems to me that most important decisions are informed by past experience. It can cause problems, but it’s the best we have.

  7. dlogan

    I guess Ozzie Guillen was right about Swisher. This will be Swisher’s second team in a row that couldn’t wait to get rid of him.

    I know when the Yanks wont miss Jeter…at home with a chance for a walk-off hit. He failed again on Saturday night with Suzuki on third and 2 outs. I’ve written it here in the past. His last walk-off hit was April 2005. He must be 0-30 since then.

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