It’s not enough that there are articles discussing it, but on today’s Fox broadcast of the Yankees – Red Sox game, Ken Rosenthal repeated the same themes… Jeter has been working on his footwork, Mick Kelleher has helped him change the angles at which he attacks grounders, all that stuff.
At first glance, Jeter’s range so far in 2009 is no better than it was in 2008. Okay – sorry – a hair better (4.09 plays per nine innings to 4.05), but not a whole lot better.
Where does Jeter rank? Let’s pull the numbers from MLB.com – just the AL shortstops.
The raw data doesn’t show an amazing increase in range. What it shows is that Jeter has been good about not making mistakes, helpful in turning two – the same things he’s been good at for years. It doesn’t show a sudden and remarkable increase in range, which we wouldn’t expect from someone who is 35 years old. And, again – not having adjusted for other factors – he’s near the bottom of those with at least 4o0 innings.
And then you look at the other numbers and see that maybe he (and other Yankees) is (are) having a great season. The Yankees have converted more balls in play into outs than normal (I wonder how serving up more homers affects that?) – well above the league average, too. And, you see that Yankee pitchers have been striking out a lot of batters. Those two things will likely move Jeter’s adjusted range upward – perhaps as high as 4.4 per nine. And, if he lands there, Jeter will have gone from someone who has been way below average to someone who has fair enough (not great, but good) range.