Monday, March 14, 2011
Looking Ahead To 2011 - Derek Jeter
Coming off one of the best seasons of his career and in the final year of his contract, Derek Jeter had the worst season of his career, dropping from a line of .334/.406/.465 in 2009 to a line of .270/.340/.370. It was obviously not realistic to expect a repeat of 2009 in 2010, as you can see by looking at Jeter’s projections heading into 2010.
Jeter’s average projection called for a line of .304/.372/.426 over 629 PA, which would have been worth around 34 runs above a replacement level SS. Instead he ended up being worth about fourteen runs worse than that. It’s easy to forget that Jeter actually had a very good April, hitting .330/.354/.521. From May 1 through September 13 he hit a miserable .247/.323/.338 before finishing the year on a relative hot streak of .347/.435/.389 (fueled by a BABIP of .439).
Jeter set a major league record by hitting 1200 ground balls in 2010. Actually, that may be a slight exaggeration, but he did hit 65.7% of his balls on the ground, which is 5.7% higher than he had done in any point in his career (data only available from 2002 on). Ground balls aren’t necessarily a horrible thing, since they’re slightly more likely to be hits than fly balls, but in Jeter’s case it just didn’t work out, whether it was due to him hitting weaker grounders or just having an exceedingly bad string of luck.
If you compare his batted ball data for 2009 and 2010, you can see a pretty clear difference.
As a rough rule of thumb, here’s the average outcome for each type of batted ball from 2000-2010.
Batted ball data isn’t perfect, because it’s based on subjective assignment by people, so keep that in mind. We also need to be aware that different types of hitters will have different results with their batted balls. A Jorge Posada ground ball is not as likely to be a hit as a Brett Gardner ground ball, a Ramiro Pena fly ball is not as likely to be a hit as an Alex Rodriguez fly ball, etc.,
If we look at Jeter’s actual BABIP compared to an expected BABIP for 2009-2010 using the league average rates for each type of batted ball, here’s what it looks like.
This tells me we should expect Jeter to be closer to 2010 than 2009, but I think most of us already knew that.
The raw numbers tell us something, but they’re still kind of limited. Another thing I wondered about was if Jeter’s actual distribution of where he was hitting the ball was meaningfully different.
Using Baseball Reference’s hit location splits, here’s how 2007-2010 compare.
|2007||Ball In Play||532||527||194||39||4||0||21||3||2||0||16||.367||.368||.367||.457|
|2008||Ball In Play||511||500||168||25||3||0||24||7||4||0||11||.333||.336||.333||.398|
|2009||Ball In Play||531||526||194||27||1||0||18||4||1||0||7||.368||.369||.368||.424|
|2010||Ball In Play||552||548||170||30||3||1||22||1||3||0||7||.307||.310||.309||.381|
The biggest takeaway from this chart for me is that Jeter has never done well on balls hit to the infield, at least not since 2007. Of course that’s true of anyone, since it’s just infield singles and ground outs. The primary problem in 2010 was that he had so many more of them, which again is something I think anyone who watched him in 2010 intuitively knew already. Basically, if Jeter’s going to be better in 2011, he probably has to stop hitting so many freaking grounders. We’ll see if the changes that Kevin Long and Jeter have been working on with reducing his stride help with that.
That’s still not granular enough for me, so here’s how Jeter’s balls in play have been fielded by each position over the past four seasons.
Left is just 3B and LF, middle is C, P, 2B, SS, CF and right is 1B and RF. This table tells me that Jeter was not able to pull the ball as frequently in 2010 as he had in prior seasons, although he wasn’t that far off from what he did in 2007.
Here’s how the projections see Jeter doing in 2011.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average (does not include SB/CS)
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BR/650: BR pro-rated to 650 PA
BRAA: BR above an average player in projected playing time (adjusted for park, but not for position)
BRAR: BR above a replacement level player (adjusted for park and position)
2010: Un-adjusted 2010 performance
*average does not include bill_james or fans
Kind of grim. The projections do think Jeter will be better in 2011, but only by about 5 runs or so.
CAIRO likes him more than most of the other projections. Here are his percentile forecasts.
To be honest, until I see something that makes me think differently, I have to assume Jeter’s going to be closer to that 35% forecast, which is around what he did in 2010.
Jeter won his fifth Gold Glove in 2010, which should tell you all you need to know about his defense. Either that, or it tells you how useless the Gold Glove awards are.
DRS: Defensive runs saved compared to average using John Dewan’s plus/minus system
zRS: Runs saved compared to average using Chris Dial’s zone rating system
uRS: Runs saved compared to average using UZR
tRS: Runs saved compared to average using Total Zone
rARM: Runs saved with arm compared to average (OF only)
avg: average from 2006-2010
w_avg: weighted average from 2006-2010 (5/4/3/2/1 weight)
You need to remember that when you’re looking at these numbers, they are comparing Jeter to his fellow shortstops. He just doesn’t compare well to his peers in any of the defensive metrics. We also need to remember what these numbers are telling us. They’re not saying Jeter misses two or three plays a game. An average of -7 for the season means Jeter’s missing something like one play every four weeks.
Like I’ve said before, when all the metrics basically say the same thing, I am willing to trust them. The thing is, it’s possible Jeter may actually be even worse than these numbers show, as Colin Wyers has done some research that shows a possible range bias by the people who track defense. I have no idea how much worse that might make Jeter, but I’d also assume if he becomes that obviously bad he won’t be playing shortstop full-time.
ga_opps: opportunities to advance on grounders
ga_r: run value of advances on grounders
aa_opps: opportunites to advance on air outs
aa_r: run value of advances on air outs
ha_opps: opportunites to advance on hits
ha_r: run value of advances on hits
oa_opps: opportunites to adance on other (wild pitches, passed balls, etc.,)
oa_r: run value of advances on other
total_opps: ga + aa + ha + ao opportunities
total_r: total run value of non-SB base running, compared to average
Between his SB and non-SB base running, Jeter’s still an asset, although that’s less likely to hold true as he ages.
We’ll be hearing about Jeter’s run at 3000 hits for the first few months of the season, which is bizarre since it happened on June 5th of last season. But to humor those who don’t realize it, Jeter should probably be close to getting his 3000th hit by the second week of June. June 7 through 9 is a three game home series with Boston, and that seems like a good time for it to happen (for the second time).
I’m somewhat pessimistic about Jeter going forward, because even if his offense gets better his defense is almost certainly going to get worse. It doesn’t mean I dislike him. If I was him I’d play until they ripped the uniform off my back. It’ll be up to the Yankees to figure out how they want to handle the scenario where Jeter begins actively hurting the team if/when it manifests itself. I don’t think that will happen in 2011, but I’m positive it will happen before he retires.
Previous entry: 2011 RLYW Fantasy Baseball