Posted September 11, 2013

Latest setback to ankle ends Derek Jeter’s season to forget

Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Derek Jeter, Yankees

The ankle injury Derek Jeter suffered in last year’s ALCS wound up being the beginning of the end of his 2013 season as well. (Paul Sancya/AP)

Derek Jeter’s nightmare season is over. On Wednesday, the Yankees announced that they were placing their 39-year-old shortstop and team captain on the disabled list for the fourth time this year due to continued problems with the surgically repaired left ankle he broke in last year’s American League Championship Series. According to New York general manager Brian Cashman, the move “effectively end[s] his season.”

Jeter wound up playing in just 17 games and hitting .190/.288/.254 with one homer in 73 plate appearances, a shocking lack of playing time given that he had averaged 151 games a year from 1996 to 2012 and had served only one stint on the DL over those last nine seasons. After suffering a setback with his ankle late in spring training, he didn’t make his 2013 regular season debut until July 11, and couldn’t even make it through his first game without suffering another injury; a strained right quad sustained during his third plate appearance sent him back to the DL until July 28. He homered off the Rays’ Matt Moore in his first plate appearance upon returning from that injury but made it through just four games before a right calf strain suffered on Aug. 2 knocked him out.

Jeter returned once more on Aug. 26 and played in 12 straight games, but he left Saturday’s loss to the Red Sox in the sixth inning due to ankle soreness. He underwent a CT scan, and while the results were negative (no fracture), a second evaluation from Dr. Robert Anderson led the Yankees to put him on the shelf again. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, Anderson told Jeter on Tuesday that resting for a week or 10 days wouldn’t be long enough to heal the weakness in his ankle.

Thus Jeter joins Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner and Jayson Nix on the list of key Yankees position players who are done for the year. Despite that, at 77-68, New York still has a fighting chance for a wild-card spot. It is two games behind the Rays for the second slot, but with the Indians, Orioles and Royals also within 2 1/2 games, the Yankees’ chances are just 8.2 percent according to the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds report.

That’s not nothing, so on Tuesday night, in anticipation of this announcement, Cashman acquired shortstop Brendan Ryan from the Mariners for a player to be named later. The 31-year-old Ryan is the anti-Jeter, a terrible hitter (.192/.254/.265 in 287 PA this year, .238/.300/.320 in his seven-year career) who has a reputation as an absolute glove whiz. From 2009-2012, his time as a regular shortstop, he was 89 runs above average at short according to Defensive Runs Saved and 44 above average according to Ultimate Zone Rating. By comparison, Jeter was 39 runs below average in that span according to DRS and 19 below average according to UZR — and that was one of his better stretches. Last month, Baseball Prospectus’ Ben Lindbergh put together a great visual presentation of the two shortstops’ recent (2011-2012) work afield, showing how much further to either side Ryan can range, and how few balls get by him relative to Jeter.

Balancing out offense and defense using B-Ref’s version of Wins Above Replacement (which uses DRS for defense), Ryan was actually more valuable than Jeter in that four-year span, 13.9 to 11.5, though his own defensive numbers are down this year (+3 DRS, +1 UZR) as he lost playing time in Seattle to rookie Brad Miller. Ryan’s 0.0 WAR is still more valuable than what the Yanks have gotten from Eduardo Nunez (-2.0) or Jeter (-0.7), all of which is to say that he could be a slight help, though it appears that he’s likely to share time with Nunez rather than supplant him. Ryan won’t be eligible for the postseason because he was acquired after the Aug. 31 waiver deadline, but that’s the least of New York’s problems right now.

Nunez has seen the bulk of the playing time at shortstop for the Yankees since his own return from an oblique injury in early July, but his performance with the bat (.257/.311/.356 with one homer and nine steals in 284 PA) has been subpar, while his defense has been even worse. In 74 games, he’s a whopping 27 runs in the red according to DRS, and -17 according to UZR.

Jeter holds a $9.5 million player option (and a $3 million buyout) for 2014, a significant pay cut from this year’s $17 million but not exactly money to sneeze at. Had he played anywhere near as well this year as last year, when he racked up a league-high 216 hits while batting .316/.362/.429 with 15 homers, he’d have been in a position to work out another multi-year extension in place of that option, but he lacks that leverage now. What’s clear is that he has no intention of retiring because of this latest setback. “There’s a lot of ‘end’ talk here, man. You guys want this to be the end for me?” he asked reporters at Wednesday’s press conference, according to the Newar Star-Ledger‘s Andy McCulloch. Via Hoch, he explained, “You don’t start thinking about the end just because you have an injury.”

Neither Cashman nor manager Joe Girardi believe they’ve seen the end of Jeter. “I have not watched his last game. No one has,” said the GM. “There are no guarantees in life, but I think he’s going to do everything he can to get back,” said Girardi.

Jeter’s single on Saturday, the 3,316th hit of his career, pushed him past Eddie Collins and into sole possession of 10th place on the all-time list. He’ll have to wait until next year to pass Paul Molitor (3,319), Carl Yastrzemski (3,419) and others, and in the meantime, he can only watch his teammates battle for a playoff spot. “I’ll be carrying the pom-poms,” he told reporters. That’s a surreal scene to envision, albeit no more surreal than the rest of Jeter’s season.

13 comments
Whatever
Whatever

So next year Jeter moves to 3rd since A-Rat will be suspended for the entire season (and hopefully his career is over). Yankees have a new shortstop but still have Jeter, who certainly can perform better than all the other third basemen the Yankees had this year.

I hate the Yankees, but Jeter's a good guy and good for baseball (great role model for kids, too). Hope he gets well.

joe6647
joe6647

There are 9 million reasons why Derek Jeter will play in 2014

oasis1994
oasis1994

Too much negativity. 

If Jeter did not come back all you people would complain that he was lazy and did not want to get in shape. You would say that he took the money after his last contract and gave up as well.

Jeter tried to get his body ready too soon and worked hard at it. How many of you out there would have done the same? This guy hates not playing and he really never has played with this type of injury that prevented him from moving all that well. 

Jeter will come back next year and it is safe to assume that he will never be the same, but even at 70 - 80 percent he is better than half the players out there. 

John NoLastName
John NoLastName

Hang 'em up, Derek. Play with the kids and mow the lawn. There's nothing more you need to prove to anyone. Relax and wait for Cooperstown to call.

parkbrav
parkbrav

IMO  the appearances Jeter made this season were just publicity stunts aimed at self promotion.

riley8
riley8

And so it ends.  Great career.  Hang em up before you really put egg on your face.  Go out with Andy and Mariano.

Enough is Enough
Enough is Enough

@parkbrav You're nuts. He was trying to do his job and come back off a serious injury, twice. His body is giving out, sure but to say his return was a stunt. Just shut up and go away.

help4mac1
help4mac1

@riley8 A-Rod got his a-bod back after last year and next year will be the same with derek the domino.

John NoLastName
John NoLastName

@help4mac1 @John NoLastName And people have the temerity to bad-mouth the intelligence of the people who post here! What do they know, eh?

You have restored my faith in the wit and relevance of internet posters everywhere! Your incisive and forthright comment cuts to the heart of the issue with this great player now in the twilight of his career.

I can only stand in awe at such erudition.

parkbrav
parkbrav

@Enough is Enough @parkbrav Give me a break. When Jeter returned the first time all he did was pose for the cameras. You have no idea what you're talking about

Whatever
Whatever

@parkbrav Jeter doesn't play ball for publicity. He certainly didn't need to do so this season. He's passionate about the game and just wanted to play. I'm sure it killed him to be out.

He'll play again because he wants to play. He doesn't need the money, although he won't turn down the game checks (who would?). He'll play third next year for the Yanks.