Monday, November 22, 2010
2010: The Year Jeter Did Not Make ContactSG's recent projections for Derek Jeter, along with comparisons with Eduardo Nunez, had me scrambling to the heat maps again. A few weeks ago, we looked at Jeter’s 2010 heat maps which showed just how poorly he hit against RHP. In that post, I noted how Jeter’s power zone (up and away) decreased significantly last season. Jeter tends get his extra base hits on balls up and out over the plate. In 2010, his in play SLG% on pitches to that area of the zone dropped greatly, especially against RHP.
Considering that a decrease in bat speed might be at issue, I decided to look at Jeter’s contact rate from last season to see if anything changed from previous years.
How do Jeter's contact numbers up in the zone compare to his 2009 numbers?
Across the board, Jeter’s contact rate was down 5% in 2010. Against fastballs in his power zone, it was down nearly 8%. And against right handed fastballs in that zone, his contact rate was down over 10% from 2009 (79.4% to 68.7%). Again, I don't know if this is due to a drop in bat speed, or if his bat speed saw any decline at all from 2009 to 2010. And since we're working with very specific criteria, the sample size is pretty limited. However, just from his overall contact numbers we can see Jeter was swinging and missing at a greater rate, particularly in an area where he gets most of his big hits.
Given the drastic drop in power, Jeter’s 2010 was likely not all a result of decline due to age. He could simply have had an off year, with his problems only partly a result of age related factors. He had a terrible season against RHP which contributed greatly to his overall power outage. However, his numbers do look similar in many respects to his 2008 season numbers, with 2009 looking like the outlier. His 2008 contact rate is similar to last season's as well, with a noticeable drop in contact up and away.
I’m really not sure what to expect out of Jeter in 2011. He probably won’t be as bad as he was in 2010, nor as good as 2009. But unless he can correct his troubles against RHP, he'll probably be closer to the former than the latter.
All heatmaps and data courtesy of the In Depth Baseball analytics platform
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