Projecting Derek Jeter in 2013

New York has never had a shortage of sports writers who have predicted the demise of Derek Jeter over the last decade. The sports writers have always been proven wrong. I’m no different. After the 2010 season I was openly declaring that Jeter was done, and that the Yankees should retain his services only until he collected his 3,000th hit, after which it would be time to find a new shortstop. If the Yankees had listened to me (mercifully they didn’t) the team never would have benefited from Derek’s 2012 season.

For those who don’t remember, this past year, at the ripe old age of 38 (that’s about 138 in shortstop years), Derek hit .316/.362/.429. He led all of baseball with 216 hits. He knocked in 15 homers, which may not sound like much, but it was just one dinger behind his career season average of 16. (Important aside: Jeter isn’t thought of as being much of a power hitter, but he’s amassed 255 career home runs to date, the same number as Kirk Gibson, who was known for being a power hitter.) He managed a 117 wRC+ and played in 159 games. All in all Derek put forward the ultimate “I’m not finished yet” season in 2012. It wasn’t on par with his best seasons ever, but it was an incredible, unexpected performance from a player who is now eleventh on the all time hit list, and just 32 hits away from being number six. What comes next?

Jeter will be a Yankee in 2013 and probably 2014 if he exercises his player option. That means in all likelihood he will be on the Yankees through his age 39 and 40 seasons (Alex Rodriguez, if you’re reading, this is how you age). Derek has burned me too many times. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not going to say that he’s done. The man may never be done. He very well may hit .400 next year, but I wouldn’t count on it. We can, however, try to estimate what Derek is likely to do.

Bill James is estimating that Derek will repeat his 2011 season. He is estimating that Derek will hit .298/.359/.400 with 12 homers. That translates to a .332 wOBA. That is certainly plausible. It would represent a decline from Derek, but it would still translate into an amazing output from a shortstop at the end of his career, and it would be better than any wOBA Elvis Andrus has managed in his career to date, and folks seem to think highly of his abilities. Can the estimate be verified?

Baseball Reference argues that Jeter’s career to date, and his performance at his current age, most closely resembles Craig Biggio‘s output through his age 38 season. If that comparison holds true in Derek’s age 39 season he’ll earn his spot on the team. Biggio also had a comeback in his age 38 season. After posting back-to-back sub 100 OPS+ seasons when he was 36 and 37 Biggio pulled off 105 and 104 OPS+ seasons over the next two years. If Jeter has a similar trajectory he’ll have a solid season in 2013, possibly better than Bill James has forecast.

One day Derek Jeter will no longer be the Yankee shortstop. That will be a sad day, and maybe the day when it finally hits me that I’ve followed this player’s career just about as long as I’ve understood baseball. But that day won’t come in 2013 (provided Derek recovers fully from injury). I’m looking forward to Jeter thumbing his nose at all of us who thought he was finished at least once more.

9 thoughts on “Projecting Derek Jeter in 2013

  1. Duh, Innings!

    Derek Jeter will not exercise his $8M player’s option for 2014 because that would result in a $9M paycut. Why would he take a half a mil less than half his $17M salary for 2013 even if he had a 2010-like 2013? He’s not Edgar Renteria. He will be the greatest homegrown Yankee ever when all is said and done and all stats go out the window when talking about his monetary worth. His worth is far beyond money.

    Jeter will seek another three-year contract, I wouldn’t be surprised if he asked for the exact same numbers he got for 2011-13: $15M, $16M, and $17M with another $8M player’s option with $1.5M buyout, and the Yankees will give it to him because he’s an icon, a living legend, a fan favorite, a gentleman, a class act, and most of all, the best all-around Yankee in terms of hitting, defense, intangibles, fear factor etc. Pitchers still fear Jeter. Letting go of Jeter would be a fan/media/public relations disaster and a significant drop in attendance and team stock. This would not happen with the smirking underachieving Cano who never posted 30 HR and 100 RBI in a season in his twenties and still hasn’t posted an A-Rod MVP season-like season much less a prime A-Rod non-MVP season, yet I’m reading nonsense like 6-8 years and $25-30M a year for him.

    Offering Jeter a one-year deal would be an insult while offering him two years is half an insult. His agent could simply say “You locked up A-Rod through age 42 – Derek is better than him now and has been better than him overall since 2009.” and he’d be right.

    Let’s say Jeter collects just 170 hits next year for 3474 career hits through 2013. No friggin’ way the Yankees would let him walk just 41 hits shy of passing Tris Speaker and 157 hits shy of passing Stan Musial to be third all-time in hits and just 141 hits shy of Hank Aaron if he has just 3631 career hits through 2014.

    If Jeter collects just 640 hits 2013-16 (an average of only 160 hits a season), he’d have 3944 hits through 2016, just 146 hits shy of passing Ty Cobb for second all-time in hits and 313 hits of becoming the hit king (much to Pete Rose’s chagrin LOL.) If he pulls an Omar Vizquel i.e. plays through age 45 where he collects just 313 hits 2017-19 – an average 104 hits a season plus one more hit in any season – he’d be the hit king.

    • Paco

      I don’t agree.

      I could see him getting a new 3 year deal, but not at the numbers he got in his last contract. It would be more of a ‘we will pay you less than you might deserve, but for longer than is smart’ type of deal. They would then avoid a huge increase against the 2014 payroll, but give him a decent total dollars deal. Like it could go 3/$30MM or a bit more or a year longer. He will be done by then, at least one would assume, but it is really about paying him less in 2014 and more overall.

  2. Derek is amazing baseball player and humanitarian. It will be a sad day when he hangs his gloves up!

  3. Derek Jeter has shown how much playing baseball player is….. He does deserve to get a decent amount of salary… Do I think he will play I hope so…. He’s a great player and humanitarian too..

  4. Vaughan Burton

    If you think the Yankees won’t dump an icon, I suggest you look up “Ruth, George H.” He hit home run numbers 709-714 in the uniform of the same franchise as Hank Aaron when Aaron hit his number 715. The Yankees notified Ruth he was through by the very compassionate method of sending him a contract for $1.00 through the mail.

    For more recent examples, see “Stengel, Charles D.” and “Berra, Lawrence P.” Or if you want examples by current management, there’s Hideki Matsui and Joe Torre.

  5. sportsfan

    I would more then willing give him 3 years but at no more then 10-12 a year. If jeter is truly a class act he will take less to stay a yankee under the new 189 million dollar payroll now……

    • David in Cal

      Yes, letting go of Jeter would be a disaster for many fans, but I’m not one of them. I do not want to watch him at the point where Jeter is no longer Jeter.

  6. TimT

    “I do not want to watch him at the point where Jeter is no longer Jeter”

    Agreed, David, but let him get to that stage as a Yankee.

  7. Lori

    I have been a fan of the yankees since cable tv was available here in the Phil. and I have been wishing and dreaming to see Jeter play live before he retire’s :(…with news like this my dream would likely be just a dream.

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