Is Derek Jeter Finished?

April 13, 2011 by TommyT

New York Yankees Captain and future first ballot Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter, enters tonight’s game against the Baltimore Orioles batting a paltry .209, with one extra base hit, five strikeouts in 40 plate appearances and a pathetic .535 OPS.

This comes on the heels of his worst season as a major leaguer in 2010.

Disclaimer:  If you read me often enough you know that my two favorite teams are the St. Louis Cardinals and whoever is playing the Yankees.

However, I do have to admit that I like Derek Jeter.  I think he’s a class act, a great ballplayer and is good for baseball.  Even though I tell my sister when she comes to visit me in her Derek Jeter shirt, “he plays like the number on the back of his jersey,” I don’t believe it to be true.

So, is Derek Jeter finished?  Should he hang ‘em up?

To be fair, he’s started off slowly before and ended up doing pretty well.  Last year could be an anomaly, but it could also be the harbinger of things to come.

I’ll assume that he’s not like his left side of the infield mate, A-Roid A-Fraud Alex Rodriguez, and he is not a performance enhancing drug (PED) user.  I make that assumption because he is a good guy and to me, it would be shocking to learn that he had used PEDs sometime in his career.

And I’d like to look at some trends, just to show some stats of Hall of Fame middle infielders and how their games were at the age of 37 (Jeter turns 37 in June).

  • Roberto Alomar – the most recent middle infield HoF inductee was out of baseball at age 37 after suffering through two rather sub-par years that may have hurt his chances at being a first ballot HoFer.
  • Frankie Frisch – the Cardinals second baseman in the 30’s, he hit .274 – 42 points less than his career average and appeared in only 93 games.  The following year he was in only 17 games, hit a Mendoza-ish .219 and then was out of baseball.
  • Joe Morgan – a career .271 hitter, at 37 Morgan hit .240, bounced back the next year to hit .289, but followed up that years with two more in which he hit .230 and .244.
  • Cal Ripken – at age 37 he had been a full-time third baseman for 2 years and had a typical Cal production year, only 5 points off his career average and a dip in his power numbers.  That was the year he ended his incredible streak of 2,632 straight games.  He hung on for three more years, but was not effective in the ensuing years.
  • Ryne Sandberg – at 37 he hit .264 – more than 20 points below his career average, with OPS just north of .700.  He was out of baseball the next year.
  • Ozzie Smith – the Wizard of Oz, a career .262 hitter, batted .295 at age 37, 33 points above his career average.  He played four more years, equaling or bettering his career average in three out of the four years.
  • Robin Yount – at age 29 he was moved to the outfield, and played another 8 years in the majors.  At age 37, he hit a meager .258 – 27 points less than his career average – and for the last four years of his career, his OPS was just a bit above .700.  He was out of baseball the next year.

Based on these great players, I do believe he’s not exactly finished, but based on the trends, he is on the downward slope of his career. I wouldn’t expect him to come within 20 to 25 points of his career batting average in any of the years on this contract.

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