Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 25 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.
Anyone who followed the Yankees closely last season was probably concerned at one point or another over the future of Derek Jeter. His range at short appears to be decreasing while his slugging percentage took a heavy hit last season as he mustered a mere 11 homeruns, 25 doubles and 3 triples. This means that 39 of his 176 hits were for extra bases. He had hit 39 doubles in each of the two previous seasons so the decrease is understandably worrisome. However, people tend to forget that Jeter had been hit on the hand back on May 20th by then Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera. 93 mph off the hand I hear can be very painful, especially on the top of the hand where he appears to be hit. If you want to see it, here's the article with video. He struggled for the rest of that month, but picked it up in June and even seemed to be unaffected for the next two months as he stroked 16 doubles between June and July while batting .300 and .280 respectively. The true mystery is where the gap stroke went in August and September. No one really noticed that his doubles power was gone because he batted .345 and .342 in August and September, but he hit just 1 double in August, and another one in September. Maybe the use of the injured hand down the stretch created a worse injury, or maybe he slowed his bat down altogether to try and crank out more base hits, whatever the case, he hit just 2 doubles over the last two months, while hitting over .340. It is a curious case.
My Fearless Prediction:
I suspect that the doubles will be back. Expect him to bat over .300 with 40 doubles next season, completely reversing his decline. Everyone will revere his gangster, and stave off talks of his move from short for at least another year.
Little Known Jeter Fact:
After we reported that Jeter found the cause of his season long slump, Jeter went on to bat .350. He had hit .280 up to that point.