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The Core Four Are Back (Part 1)

Derek Jeter

Expecting the same numbers out of Jeter in 2010 would be wishful thinking, but the consistency that “Mr. November” has provided throughout his career is unheralded. We keep thinking a decline is right around the corner. He’s a step slower, his power is gone, the range is limited – This all appeared to be the case as Jeter’s stat-line read a mere 11 Home Runs, 69 Runs Batted In, a Slugging Percentage of .410, and 11 Stolen Bases in 2008. All four tallies were his lowest since 2003, a year in which Derek dislocated his shoulder on Opening Day (you all remember that slide into third base) and missed the first six weeks of the season. Before that, you would have to go all the way back to 1997, his second year in the league, to find similar numbers. It was time to accept that out fearless leader may have some limitations, but with a batting average still at .300 and that picturesque leaping throw to first base, there was no reason to panic.

The 2009 season began with a change in the lineup, bumping Jeter to the leadoff slot, but otherwise was ‘business as usual’ for Derek. A batting average hovering around .300, consistently scoring runs, a dinger and a stolen base sprinkled in here and there. As the year progressed and he got more comfortable with his new spot atop the order, Jeter went into cruise mode as we have seen so many times before. Interestingly, by the end of July, Derek had already matched his 11 homers from the year before, and had surpassed his 2008 stolen base number by 8. The power could somewhat be attributed to the friendly confines of the new Yankee Stadium, but it was clear that the burners weren’t gone.

When it was all said and done at the end of the regular season, Jeter had stolen the third most bases of his career (30 - at an 86% success rate), hit 18 longballs, was second in all of baseball with 212 hits, and ranked in the top ten for both Batting Average and On Base Percentage. He then went on to live up to his nickname in the playoffs with another 22 hits (1st), a .344 average, and a .432 OBP.

Oh yeah, and the Yankees won the World Series.

Perhaps 2009 was the last year that our ageing Captain hits over 15 Home Runs. There’s a good possibility that he will never steal 30 bases again. Maybe a couple extra ground balls will find their way through the hole this year. The one thing I do know, is that when the game is on the line and Derek Jeter steps up to the plate, I am never worried. Until the fateful day that #2 hangs his pinstriped jersey up, all is right in the game of baseball.

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