I hope you’re sitting down for this, because I’m going to share a notion that might shock you right out of your Snuggie.
No, what I’m going to point out is so shocking, you might question everything you thought you knew about baseball:
DEREK JETER IS NOT SUCH A BAD DEFENDER ANYMORE.
That’s right, he’s not. In fact, at the age of 34 (35 in 9 days, don’t
forget to send a card), Jeter is putting together his finest defensive
season since they’ve been keeping advanced defensive metrics.
Looking at two fielding stats, range runs and UZR, Jeter has improved immensely since 2005, when he contributed to one of the worst defensive teams to ever make the playoffs.
Here is how Jeter’s numbers stack up since that season:
Range runs (Number of runs above or below average a fielder is, determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls in his vicinity)
2009 (through 60 games): 0.6
Ultimate zone rating
(Number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs,
outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined)
2009 (through 60 games): 1.6
The improvement clearly started last season, when Jeter rededicated himself to defense, employing “exercises designed to improve his lateral quickness and first-step explosiveness.”
So how has Jeter gone from being among the worst defensive shortstops in baseball to a slightly above-average one?
Is it something simple like these exercises he’s doing? His diet? The fact that no one wants to hit the ball on the ground at the new Yankee Stadium?
I wonder what Jerod Morris thinks? That last one was a joke, folks.