We continue our countdown to February 12, the day pitchers and catchers report to Yankees spring training camp in Tampa. Each day between now and then, Wallace Matthews, Mark Simon and I will present a list dealing with a specific issue facing the Yankees this season. On Monday we projected why Derek Jeter will still be Derek Jeter. Today, we examine if Jeter will regress.
WHY DEREK JETER COULD REGRESS IN 2013
1) HE IS HUMAN: No, he is Derek Jeter, you say. Well, maybe. Besides a year-and-a-half hiccup from 2010 into the middle of 2011, Jeter has been able to avoid feeling age or injury. That won't last forever so '13 could be his unlucky number.
2) AGE: Jeter is going to be 39 in June. Before the PED era, there were few, if any players, who really maintained their high level of play into their forties. At some point, Jeter's age will catch up to him. It appeared it was happening from '10 through the middle of '11, but somehow, someway Jeter reversed nature. He changed his stance and rid himself of the burden of 3K, but his body has looked like it has renewed life since just before hit No. 3,000.
3) INJURY: Jeter suffered a severe ankle injury during Game 1 of the ALCS. Fracturing his left ankle that he puts his weight on as he prepares to swing is no joke. He has said it hasn't cost him prep time this offseason. Perhaps, it hasn't with all the high tech equipment -- underwater treadmill, anyone? -- it won't be as big of a deal. But you have to wonder.
On defense, Jeter didn't have that much range to lose, but this could cost him another half step.
4) THE MIND: Jeter's simplicity of focus is a main reason for his legend. He really believes with every fiber in his body that he will succeed. His belief showed through when he bounced back from his year-and-a-half of being a .270 batter. So, when he does regress, he will be the last to believe it. The touchy subjects that arose a few years back will return.
Joe Girardi stuck with Jeter at the top of the order back then and, I think, he will be bound to do that again. At least, the manager will for as long as he can. But with offensive regression likely coming in the outfield, behind the plate and maybe at third, the Yankees need the Captain to be a very good player again. If he goes the wrong way, he may take the Yankees season with him.
5) HIGH-LEVEL: Jeter was tremendous in '12. He hit .316 and had more hits than any other major leaguer. So thinking he might regress is not exactly insulting.
QUESTION: WHAT WILL BE THE CAPTAIN'S NUMBERS IN '13?