That’s Derek Jeter’s line since May 1st. You many recall his April was much better, where he posted a much more Jeterian .330/.354/.521 (.875 OPS) for the month. But there’s an old axiom in Baseball about how you should never believe anything that happens in April or September. The reason is that in April, pitchers are still building up arm strength and their fastballs aren’t quite up to speed yet. Aging hitters who’ve lost bat speed will often put up big numbers in April, only to get exposed as the season progresses. Cecil Fielder comes to mind. There are also many minor leaguers who make a team out of Spring Training that get weeded out over the first few months of the season that veteran hitters can take advantage of early in the year. As I detailed yesterday, Derek’s had a lot of trouble on the fastball this season. A classic sign of a hitter who’s bat has slowed.
When rosters get expanded in September, it’s a similar situation. There are so many call ups from the minors that the overall level of competition suffers. Guys who wouldn’t be on the roster wind up starting because teams are taking a look at their kids, or a 1st place team is so far ahead that they’re resting their regulars. Savvy veteran hitters can often take advantage of a rookie pitcher’s inexperience or flaws based on their predictability or inability to throw strikes. Even if Derek has a good September, I’ll still have some healthy skepticism heading into October, where the best teams feature their best pitchers.
So who’s the real Derek? Barring some injury with Derek that were unaware of, I would have to think the mid-season numbers are what we should expect as a baseline from him going forward. Can the Yanks or Yankee fans live with that? From their leadoff or #2 hitter? I’d like to ask our readers, if that’s who Derek is at this point in his career, can you accept that? If not, both provide an alternative to play SS and a place on the Yanks for him over the next few years, because nobody doubts that he will be re-signed by the team and will retire as a Yankee.