Monday, February 3, 2014

Now Batting: Derek Jeter

The Yankees shortstop who goes by the name of Derek Jeter appeared in only parts of 17 games in the Yankees nightmare 2013 season of injuries. The 39 year old Yankees captain first suffered injury in the 2012 postseason against the Tigers in extra innings, but the break in his leg would not completely heal as he was in and out of the lineup in 2013. He made a couple of trips to the disabled list and after a couple of starts following a DL stint, Jeter quickly limped onto the disabled list to finish the season. In last year's assessment of Derek Jeter I was naive about the nature of his injury given his age, what was then 38 going on 39. One year further removed from the initial injury in his leg, Jeter is 39 and before you know it he will be 40 in mid-season.

It is easy to say that Derek will not be a reliable player in 2014 however I believe in Jeter and his ability to know his body by now. He rushed his return in 2013 which is what contributed to his absence. Knowing this, Derek Jeter should be able to learn from this mistake and to assess accordingly in 2014. Jeter has the ability to put up great numbers, as he has proven throughout his nineteen years in the Major Leagues. He has 3,316 hits and can still make solid contact; he even hit a home run in his first at bat against lefty Matt Moore after returning from his second DL stint in 2013. Jeter has the ability, even at 40, to be a consistent player. However, his body is not as quick to heal as it was when he was younger and more durable. Jeter's body has more of a chance to break down after all of the wear and tear over a long baseball career. At age 40, Jeter will be the oldest starting shortstop in Major League Baseball by a wide margin.

Brendan Ryan
Should Jeter's body not hold out the grind of a long season, even with DH days, Girardi has a couple of options in his back pocket. The Yankees signed Brendan Ryan as Jeter insurance following the 2013 season. Ryan is a defensive wiz at the shortstop position however he struggles with the bat. In 17 games with the Yankees in 2013, Ryan hit .220 with two doubles, a home run and only 1 RBI in 59 official at-bats. After some work with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, Ryan could fix whatever problems he had that was preventing him from being a productive hitter. If Jeter does not hold up and Ryan is forced to take over the position, the Yankees would be ecstatic if he hit .250.

Girardi's other shortstop option will be Eduardo Nunez, who is a nightmare defensively but is a good line drive hitter. I do believe though, that Nunez will see little to no playing time at short as he may be needed more at third and second base. I do think though, that Nunez's bat and speed on the bases would help the Yankees who find themselves with a few more power hitters again.

Prediction for a healthy Derek Jeter in 2014: .300 AVG, 10 HR, 58 RBI, 180

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