Say what? Jeter not so bad at defense

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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, it’s not that Jose Canseco is suing MLB. Or that Congress is now setting its sights on Sammy Sosa. Those two nuggets wouldn’t even surprise this guy.

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)

2005: -17.1
2006: -7.1
2007: -16.0
2008: -3.2
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)

2005: -14.3
2006: -6.8
2007: -15.3
2008: -0.5
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.

Angel Hernandez made a great call on a tough play

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Fans, and even some writers, tend to jump on umpires when they make bad calls, but rarely if ever point out when they make good calls on tough plays. Angel Hernandez is one of those umpires who gets a lot of flack — and I may suggest even deservedly so — but in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, he made a great call on a very tough play during Thursday afternoon’s game between the Phillies and Marlins.

With a runner on first base and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Phillies leading 2-1, first baseman Brock Stassi laced an Edison Volquez pitch down the first base line. Michael Saunders, who was on first base, came around third base and attempted to score. The relay throw from second baseman Dee Gordon beat Saunders, but Saunders slid expertly to the back of home plate, avoiding the tag from catcher J.T. Realmuto just long enough to slip his hand in and touch the plate. Hernandez ruled Stassi safe with no hesitation because he was in a great position to get a look at the play. In real time, it was a bang-bang play. The Marlins didn’t challenge the call.

The MLB.com video doesn’t have the best angle, but still shows what a close call it was in real time. This .gif from Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal provides the best angle:

Hernandez also made this nonchalant grab of Andrew Knapp‘s face mask when the catcher tossed it attempting to catch a foul pop-up:

Yoenis Cespedes leaves game with pulled hamstring

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The Mets and Braves are playing today and it’s not a great day for the Mets in the injury department.

First they scratched Noah Syndergaard with a “tired arm.” Now they’ve lost Yoenis Cespedes, who pulled up limping at second base following a double in the bottom of the fourth:

The team has announced that he has pulled his left hamstring.

Cespedes, of course, missed three games over the weekend due to hamstring issues. That was merely tightness, however, and following an off day and a rainout, Cespedes played last night without incident. But it now looks as though he’s going to miss some serious time.