First Pitch: Absent Captain?
March, 25, 2013
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- Now that it is all but official that Derek Jeter will not be part of the Yankees' Opening Day roster, it is only fair and natural to begin wondering just exactly when he will be part of the roster, and how much he will play in 2013.
As part of our run-up to the start of the regular season, Andrew Marchand and myself planned to run a series of over/under propositions concerning a select group of key Yankees. And as befitting his status, we planned to start with Jeter, and the numerical category most closely associated with him: hits.
As in, how many hits will The Captain get this season, over or under 185? You make the call.
Unfortunately, that number no longer seems realistic or attainable.
Because the truth is, no one knows -- not even Jeter himself -- when he will be well enough to play regularly again, and how quickly he will bounce back when he does play. So all previous yardsticks now go out the window.
For instance, pre-rehab setbacks, Dan Szymborksi of ZiPs projections would have taken the under -- his model had projected 151 hits and a .277 batting average for Jeter in 120 games, all markedly down from his 2012 numbers of 216 hits and a .316 BA in a remarkable 159 games played.
By contrast, Bill James would have taken the over: He projected Jeter for 191 hits and a .298 average over 154 games.
But now we must all lower the bar on our expectations for Jeter in 2013.
Now, I'm thinking the over/unders are 150 hits and 120 games. He's had fewer games (119) only once, and never had less than 150 hits (156), both in his injury-shortened 2003 season. Jeter wound up hitting .324 that year, but then he was headed toward his 29th birthday, not his 39th.
So what say you? Does The Captain exceed 120 games this season? Can he manage more than 150 hits? Let us know in the comments section.
UP NOW: A variety of goodies from yesterday's roller-coaster ride of a day: My news story on Jeter's latest setback, as well as a column on why the Yankees better start searching for his replacement now. We finished up the day with the story of the looming Vernon Wells trade, as well as a blog item on the fourth-biggest story of the day, the game against the Tampa Bay Rays that ended on a dramatic walk-off home run by Ronnier (Musty) Mustelier.
ON DECK: Off day for the Yankees, and no access to the players, although new acquisition Chien-Ming Wang will throw a bullpen session at the minor-league complex this morning. Plus, the news of the finalization of the Wells deal could come at any time, so check in often. And as always, thanks for reading.