|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
Day 6 of the BBTN 500 consists of players ranked 51-100. Derek Jeter is ranked 95th. We asked our experts to weigh in with their thoughts on the Yankees' captain.
David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield), SweetSpot: Well, there are some guys ranked above him that I'd take Jeter over and some ranked below whom I'd prefer over Jeter, so he's probably about right. Of course, one of his great attributes through the years, his durability -- 150-plus games played in eight of the past nine seasons -- is already in question this season, so it's a risky ranking considering his ankle injury and his age.
Christina Kahrl (@ChristinaKahrl), SweetSpot: Just right. Look, he's not an asset on defense -- I think we've beaten that dead horse's bones to powder by now. But with today's all-time-high strikeout rates keeping balls out of play, there's no better time for a defensive liability up the middle to be playing. If he lives up to the projections that put his OPS in the .750 range or better, that's someone helping you win ballgames.
Matt Meyers (@mtmeyers), ESPN.com: I'd say he's probably too high, but it's hard to justify putting him any lower. Many of us have been predicting Jeter's demise for years, and he's always proved the doubters wrong. Even with his ankle injury, it's hard to bet against him.
|Derek Jeter has been slow to recover after having surgery on his left ankle in October, and will likely begin the season on the DL.|
Schoenfield: I think he may have one more .300 season in him -- if his ankle injury doesn't take away some of his speed. Jeter has always relied on infield hits to boost his average -- he had 30 last season, tied for third-most in the majors -- so if he loses eight to 10 infield hits, his .300 seasons will likely be a feat of the past. Of course, they might have been anyway, considering he hit .270 in 2010 and .297 in 2011.
Kahrl: Maybe, but that's not the best expression of his value, and it isn't like failing to do so at the same age Honus Wagner did it his last time (or in the years to come) will keep Jeet out of the Hall of Fame. It won't be easy with the unbalanced schedule and looking at those heavily restocked rotations he'll have to face in the AL East.
Meyers: Jeter has always been pretty good at legging out infield hits, which gives his batting average a nice boost. If his ankle injury causes his speed to degrade faster than normal, he's going to lose a lot of those cheapies. I think his .300 days are behind him.
Schoenfield: No. The biggest issue I see is there's no way the Yankees will keep him at shortstop past his current contract, which runs through 2014. Will Jeter's ego allow him to move to another position, like Cal Ripken moved to third base? Will his bat be good enough when he's 41 and 42 to warrant playing time at another position? Will Jeter want to stick around on a mediocre Yankees team? If he had a chance to catch Pete Rose's 4,256 hits, I'd say he finds a way to stick around. But that number is too far away. He'll retire before he gets to 4,000.
Kahrl: Only if he wants to. Let's say he averages 162 hits per year -- the same tally he had in 2011. It would take him four and a half seasons at that pace, or three more than he's under contract for with the Yankees, who have him through 2014. Would he play the additional seasons someplace else if the Yankees don't want to give him another contract, or finally insist on moving him off shortstop? That's his call, but you can bet somebody would give him the opportunity if he's willing. Anyone remember Pete Rose having to notch his 4,000th hit as an Expo? It's exactly like that.
Meyers: Yes. He seems motivated to do it, and I could easily see him putting up 150 hits per season for five more years. The only question is whether he will do it in a Yankees uniform.