Everyone says Derek Jeter stinks. His range is down, as is his production at the plate, and as a result it seems like everyone, even the New York faithful, have turned on the future Hall of Fame shortstop. What are my thoughts on Jeter including his 2011 fantasy prospects? Before I get to that, let’s review the current situation.
(1) Jeter is a 36 year old free agent.
(2) The Yankees have offered Jeter a 3-year, $45 million contract.
(3) Jeter apparently wants $23-24 million a year for at least four years. He wouldn’t mind five or six though.
(4) GM Brian Cashman basically told the press that if Jeter doesn’t like the offer he was given he can take his act on the road and try to convince someone else to give him more money.
I will admit that it does seem very odd that Jeter thinks he should get $20 million a year since he is 36 years old, but don’t forget three salient factors, in the form of current Yankees’ players, that are likely weighing on his mind.
A.J. Burnett: This righty, coming off the worst season of his career, will make $16.5 million a year for each of the next three years.
Jorge Posada: The 39 year old catcher/DH will make $13.1 million this year, not a had chunk of change for a guy who will turn 40 during the season and one that has 551 at-bats the past two years.
Alex Rodriguez: He will be 36 in July. Here are his contract totals the next seven years – $31 million, $29 million, $28 million, $25 million, $21 million, $20 million, $20 million.
It’s a difficult hard to fault Jeter for asking what he is when Arod will be making $20 million a year when he is 42 years old, especially considering what Jeter means to the Yankees franchise.
2011 Fantasy Outlook
Jeter is coming off his worst full season since, well, ever. He produced his lowest batting average (.270), tied his career-low in homers (10), had his worst OBP ever (.340) and saw his slugging percentage drop to a laughable level (.370) leading to an OPS of .710, some .127 points below his career mark. So all hope is lost right? Not so fast…
Jeter, hitting atop a loaded Yankees lineup, scored 111 runs. That total not only lead all shortstops, it was tied for fourth best in all of baseball.
Jeter knocked in 67 runs, only nine less than Hanley Ramirez and six more than Stephen Drew.
Jeter stole 18 bases, only four less than Rafael Furcal and one more than Jimmy Rollins.
Add it all up and Jeter had 10 homers, 67 RBI, 111 runs and 18 steals. Do you know how many shortstops in baseball reached all of those figures? Obviously the answer is none because he led shortstops in runs. How about this one – how many players in baseball went 10-65-110-15? The answer is three: Carl Crawford, Carlos Gonzalez and Mr. Jeter.
There are still concerns with Jeter.
He struck out 16.0 percent of the time, a 4-year high. I t was still below his 16.9 percent career mark though.
His line drive rate fell to 16.1 percent. Given that he owns a 20.2 percent mark, and that he had never been below 17.9 percent in a season, I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt here.
Still, there are issues.
(1) As a result of the loss in the LD-rate, his BABIP mark was just .307, .049 points below his career mark.
(2) Always a ground ball machine, his GB-rate went through the roof as he posted a 65.7 percent mark in 2010. That’s only a good thing if you are Michael Bourn. If you are Derek Jeter, does it signal that you have lost bat speed resulting in an increasing number of feeble ground balls – and another reason why that line drive rate of his tanked?
So how do I view Jeter in 2011 as a fantasy shortstop? I’m buying. We all know Jeter will return to the Yankees despite all the recent garbage, and I expect he will once again hit at the top of the lineup. Give him a little bit of a bounce back in the batting average category, and a continuation of the rest of his performance, and Jeter is solidly in the top-8 amongst shortstops (see Top-10 SS for 2011), and one that might come at more of a discount than he should since everyone seems to think he is washed up.
By Ray Flowers