Way back on April 28, I wrote an article about Derek Jeter and his lack of plate discipline so far this season. Since then, the Yankee shortstop has hit just .229/.289/.343. No matter where one hits in the lineup, a line this weak is putrid. When it comes from a leadoff hitter, it’s borderline unacceptable.
The worst part of that is the .289 OBP. As the guy at the top of the lineup, Jeter needs to be seeing more pitches and taking more walks. While he has “raised” his walk rate to 4.2% since the posting of that first article, it’s still way too low for anyone, let alone a leadoff hitter. So, what’s going wrong? A lot of things.
There’s the lack of walks, firstly, which is coming from a very high 33.3% O-Swing%. Jeter is swinging at a career high number of pitches out of the zone (career 19.8%, previous high of 23.7%, league average of around 25%). What’s worse is that Jeter’s making contact on those out of zone pitches 68.9% (career 59%, league average around 55-60%). That’s leading to a lot of weak contact.
Looking on the bright side for a moment, Derek’s power peripheral is actually in line with his career number. He’s sitting at a .135 IsoP right now with a career average of .141. However, the IsoD (.042) is well below his career mark (.071). Again, the lack of walks is rearing his ugly head.
As of the authoring of this post (Sunday night), Jeter has a line drive percentage of only 13.8% (career 20.5%), a groundball percentage of 68.8% (career 56.2%), and a fly ball percentage of 17.4% (career 23.2%). This is all leading to a shockingly low BABIP of .284 for Derek (career .358).
One may look at the BABIP differential and say that Derek is due for a correction. I’m optimistic in this because Jeter is too good and talented a hitter to stay at a .271/.313/.406 (.322 wOBA) line for the whole season. Unless Jeter starts hitting the ball harder, though, that BABIP correction isn’t going to come. He’s clearly lacking line drives and I suspect many of those groundballs are finding the gloves of the infielders (mostly the shortstops it’s seemed, right?). The lack of fly balls also shows us that he’s not getting any lift or drive on the ball. As long as he’s not hitting the ball hard, his BABIP isn’t going to rebound. If his BABIP doesn’t rebound, his batting average won’t rise. And if Jeter’s going to keep up his new found free-swinging-no-pitch/walk-taking ways, there’s going to be a big problem in the leadoff spot in the Bronx.