Division Series - New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two

Today marks an important day on the Roman calender: for on the eleventh day of the seventh month of the year 2013, Derek Jeter hath returned to the New York Yankees professional baseball club.

After breaking his ankle in the American League Championship, rehabbing and suffering through setbacks great and small, Ken Rosenthal reports today that the Derek Jeter will rejoin his Yankees for the final game of their ongoing series with the Kansas City Royals. Just as the ancients foretold!

As expected, Yankees fans are excited. Derek Jeter is one of the best players in baseball, let alone Yankee, history. He is one of the greatest offensive shortstops of all time, the captain of the most storied franchise in the game during their most successful period in half a century.

But Derek Jeter is 39-years old and the Yankees team he joins hangs by a thread. The Yankees are seven games above .500 with a 49-42 record just before the All Star break. They’re also one of the worst offensive teams in baseball, particularly at the shortstop position.

The Yankee shortstop collective of Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Reid Brignac et al have posted a full win below replacement level, with a sparkling .216/.271/.273 line and two home runs to their name. That’s terrible.

Even as his advanced age, Derek Jeter almost cannot help but improve upon these dismal numbers. But what can anyone rightfully expect from the Yankee Captain?

The good! – Jeter was pretty much amazing in 2012, putting up 3 fWAR and .316/.362/.429 line with 15 home runs in 159 games. Those numbers would look even better were it not for the significant defensive penalty assessed by UZR (though the other defensive metrics liked Jeter’s D even less.) Which is to say Derek Jeter is no stranger to exceeding the numbers projected for him. He’s really good, you see.

The bad :( – Derek Jeter is getting really, really old. We’ve been saying this for a while now but the fact remains: he’s nearly 40-years old. The projections for Jeter reflect this. Steamer puts Jeter on a .288/.345/.389 season while PECOTA thinks .279/.338/.371. Both systems believe he’ll add less than one Win for the remainder of the season. Considering the impossibly low levels of SS production thus far for the Yanks, that’s like a 2 win net gain! Which is nice and all…

This doesn’t account for the other factors Jeter contributes, mostly notably a very patient hitter who can draw out long plate appearances at the top of the order, something the Yankees desperately need since Jayson Nix and Ichiro have split time in the number 2 slot of the Yankees batting order since Mark Teixeira re-injured his wrist.

Jeter’s return is sure to provide a lift, even if it is only felt by the fans excited to watch their Hall of Famer once again. Derek Jeter is about to tread upon some untouched territory, as only a handful of 39-year old players put in 300 plate appearances as a shortstop since they lowered the mound in 1969. Only one of those players posted offensive numbers better than league average.

Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age Tm Lg H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Barry Larkin 101 386 2004 40 CIN NL 100 15 3 8 44 34 39 2 0 .289 .352 .419 .771 *6
2 Omar Vizquel 93 659 2006 39 SFG NL 171 22 10 4 58 56 51 24 7 .295 .361 .389 .749 *6
3 Ozzie Smith 78 433 1994 39 STL NL 100 18 3 3 30 38 26 6 3 .262 .326 .349 .675 *6
4 Luis Aparicio 75 561 1973 39 BOS AL 135 17 1 0 49 43 33 13 1 .271 .324 .309 .633 *6
5 Omar Vizquel 61 575 2007 40 SFG NL 126 18 3 4 51 44 48 14 6 .246 .305 .316 .621 *6
6 Omar Vizquel 45 300 2008 41 SFG NL 59 10 1 0 23 24 29 5 4 .222 .283 .267 .550 *6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/11/2013.

But most players aren’t Derek Jeter. In face, no other player is Derek Jeter. Lift or no lift, injured or healed, Derek Jeter is just about back. Expect to hear very little about his return and importance to the Yankees franchise over the next few days. It’s not really their style.

And the rest

Speaking of shortstops, even the good ones are terrible!

Derek Jeter would never cross to the wrong side of second base to field a pop up. [River Avenue Blues]

Miguel Montero – sort of a goof. [MLB.com]

Cliff Lee had a crazy start last night, losing 5-1 to the Washington Nationals. He was typical Cliff Lee, throwing strikes by the bushelful. He also did some non-Cliff Lee like things, like surrender four home runs in a single start.

At one point, after serving up his fourth long ball, Cliff Lee had given up almost as many home runs (4) as he had balls called against him (8). He pitched seven innings, throwing just 76 pitches, 64 of which were strikes or put in play. 12 balls for the entire evening! Crazy, not a great night for Cliff Lee.

Even his night was much better than the guy who tried to catch this Anthony Rendon home run. Woof.

Deadspin has all the “ball to the dome” coverage you could ever need.

The Cubs signed a crazy deal with their first round draft pick, Kris Bryant, selected second overall in the June draft. [MLBTR]

Jay Z wants Yasiel Puig as part of his burgeoning player agent empire? Maybe Puig can give up destroying and start mailing in 45-minute long commercials disguised as comeback albums, too! [Fox Sports]