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.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.