No, Derek Jeter should not think about retiring. Just so we’re clear on that.
Jason Keidel, though, argues that the Yankee shortstop is at the end of the line:
Father Time is finally throwing Jeter some serious chin music, snapping his ankle in October, and then taunting him back to practice before chipping it again. But Jeter is the Bernard Hopkins of baseball, swinging until he’s literally carted off. The Yankees surely hope he makes that decision before they have to.
Jeter turns 39 at the end of June, but 2012 was his best offensive showing since 2009. Let’s start with a couple traditional stats: he hit 15 home runs (most since 18 in ’09) and scored 99 runs (most since 111 in ’10). Going by Sabermetric stats, his .347 wOBA was his best since .385 in ’09 and his 3.1 FanGraphs WAR was the most since 6.8 in ’09.
Keidel challenges readers to find “one shortstop in the modern era who produced at 39.” It is kind of a loaded challenge, but let’s play nevertheless. According to Baseball Reference, there have been ten player-seasons since 1901 where a shortstop posted 2.0 (average) WAR or better at the age of 39 or older: four of them belong to Honus Wagner (1913-16), three to Luke Appling (1946-47, ’49), and one each to Luis Aparicio (1973), Ozzie Smith (1994), and Omar Vizquel (2.9). So, yeah, kind of rare.
But if you lower the age threshold to 38, an interesting name appears on the list: Derek Jeter. Had the injury occurred last year, I have a feeling Keidel would have asked the very same question, only about 38-year-old shortstops. Clearly, Jeter is not the dominant player of the early and mid-2000’s, but is still as good as or better than many of his contemporaries to whom he has seniority by as many as 15 years. Jeter is one of the last players I’d think about writing off.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.