Derek Jeter‘s injury-plagued season has been exhausting for his team, his fans and the player himself. The season can almost be summed up as a repeating cycle of optimistic reports followed by news of setbacks.
However, things went sour pretty fast and after numerous setbacks, Jeter ended up not making his 2013 debut until July. He then, subsequently, hit the DL two more times, the second of which ended his self-proclaimed “nightmare” season.
Most people have pointed to Jeter’s season-ending DL placement as the nail in the coffin for the New York Yankees. Conversely, this final injury may be just the push that the Yankees need in order to finish off this playoff pursuit.
Most people can’t understand how the team could be better with anyone other than the captain, Mr. November, DJ3K playing shortstop. But the fact is that in baseball, like it is in most professional sports, it’s not about the past, it’s about, “what you have done for me lately?” and for Jeter, the answer to that question is a big fat nothing.
It hurts to come to grips with, but it’s something that Yankees fans need to do; Jeter was never going to save this season. Throughout this entire year, Yankees fans could be heard saying things like, “Once we get the guys off the DL we’ll go on a run,” or “We just need the captain”. Well, the guy that was needed the most from the DL was Michael Pineda and he never came off.
Derek Jeter was hitting .190/.288/.254 in the 17 games that he did play in. Now, I’m not suggesting that Jeter is a .190 hitter, because he’s not. In fact, he might be able to hit above the Mendoza line when he’s in his late 40’s. However, he more than likely isn’t a .300 hitter anymore. If you watched Jeter’s play this season, then you know that he couldn’t run well at all and was slapping the ball around in the infield; when you hit short dribblers without any speed, you don’t get on base too often.
The Yankees’ other options at shortstop are Brendan Ryan and Eduardo Nunez. Ryan offers defensive dominance, as he makes plays that most shortstops could only dream about, and although it’s a small sample size, he has hit .240 so far for the Yankees, which is much closer to his .238 career average then the .192 he was hitting with the M’s. Nunez has hit .253/.305/.347 in 81 games this season, with his recent surge in his batting average because of his hotter hitting (he’s hit .285 since Aug. 1). It’s worth mentioning that Nunez’s defense has been improved this year as well.
The final reason that Jeter’s injury is positive for the bombers is that the captain can still be the captain. He will be with the team as far as they go, as there is no immediate rush for rehab since he is shooting for a spring training return. Additionally, his leadership is probably the best thing he can offer the team this year, so they are getting the best possible outcome.
Chris Ronca is a New York Yankees writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRonca.