Derek Jeter: Doubt His Comeback at Own Risk

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

 

Derek Jeter is done for the year which doesn’t really come as a surprise to the New York Yankees or their fans. This year has hardly been kind to the Yankees’ captain whose comeback from a broken ankle suffered setback after setback. However, that doesn’t mean the 39-year-old shortstop is done.

There are some who believe Jeter should follow Mariano Rivera out the door next season. That just isn’t going to happen. Jeter still has some heroics left in his bat as evidenced by his return on July 28th when he homered in his first at-bat. Five days later Jeter was down again with another injury.

For the year, Jeter has appeared in only 17 games and hit just .190/.288/.254 with one homer and seven RBI. Just by looking at his statistics one would see the injuries and low statistical output and assume Jeter has already given his best. That is simply not true.

In 2012, his age 38 season, Jeter led the league in hits with 216 while batting .316/.362/.429 with 15 homers and 58 RBI and scoring 99 runs. Yes, Jeter’s body is beaten up right now. Yes, he is going to be 40 next season. However, Jeter will have an entire off-season to recover, to let his ankle heal and to get the rest of his body in shape. He may not be the same player he was in 2012 but it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he can still hit, at least at similar levels to 2010 when he hit .270/.340/.370.

Jeter must be handled correctly though. He can’t be put out in the field every day. Those days are probably behind him. He can still play shortstop three to four times a week at most but he must be given regular rest and days at DH.

Jeter has earned the right to say when he is done. When everyone thought a middle infielder was nearing the end of his career after a sub-par season, at least for him, in 2010, he went out and hit .297/.355/.388 the next year and then followed that up with his 2012 campaign that saw him collect 216 hits.

I’m not saying he will be the same player. However, you doubt Jeter at your own risk. He is a once in a lifetime ballplayer, literally. We haven’t seen a middle infielder do what he has done since Luke Appling and maybe Barry Larkin. Before those two it was Rogers Horsnby.

There is no doubt that Jeter isn’t going to be Jeter moving forward. His days in the field might be numbered but he has earned the right to play baseball as long as he wants and to be a member of the Yankees for as long as he desires. He won’t retire after this terrible season. He doesn’t want to go out this way so to speculate about his retirement, or to suggest he should is a waste of space. Brian Cashman was right in saying no one has seen Jeter’s last game.

Despite being almost 40-years-old, Jeter has kept himself in fantastic shape. Yes, his body betrayed him this season but that means nothing. Broken ankles are hard to heal on 18-year-olds and take time. Jeter tried to rush himself back and the Yankees were desperate to have him. Now, he will get the proper amount of time to heal and the rest of his body will catch up.

While we may have seen the best Jeter has to offer he is still a part of the Yankees’ plans and the Yankees are still a part of his plans. He holds the player option for next season and you can almost guarantee that he will exercise it. There are no free agent shortstops that are better than Jeter with the exception of Jhonny Peralta but he is serving a suspension for his involvement in Biogenesis. Jeter is the best option at shortstop, even if he can only play there three times a week. With Eduardo Nunez in the fold the Yankees don’t have to force Jeter out there.

No, we haven’t seen the last of Derek Jeter.

 

Chris is a Senior Writer as well as the Hiring and Recruiting Manager for Rant sports. Follow Chris on Twitter and “Like” his page on Facebook.

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