In praise of Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter celebrated his 38th birthday this week, and it’s a reminder that he’s not going to be around forever. We’ve been awfully lucky to watch this guy play these last 18 years. Here’s hoping we enjoy watching him regardless of how much longer he has. Based on this season, he has plenty left in the tank.
He leads the American League in hits. He’s fourth with 28 multi-hit games and fourth with 35 two-strike hits. He’s hitting .357 in the first inning. He collected his 3,184th hit tonight and tied Cal Ripken Jr. for 13th place on the all-time list. Only Hank Aaron and Ty Cobb had more hits before their 38th birthday. (Jeter is 132 hits out of the Top 10.)
At 46-28, the Yankees have the best record in the Majors. They haven’t had a better record after 74 games since 2004 when they were 48-26. They’re 23-14 on the road and 23-14 at home. They’re 41-8 when scoring at least four runs. They’ve hit 39 home runs in the last 22 games and have 117 for the season, tops in the Majors. They’re 45-15 when they homer and 1-13 when they don’t.
Those offensive numbers are especially relevant at a time when the Yankees are being battered by injuries to the pitching staff. With Mariano Rivera and Michael Pineda gone for the season and with C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the Disabled List, the Yankees have seen their margin of error reduced to almost nothing.
GM Brian Cashman has said he’d prefer not to make a deal, but the beauty of devoting so much time and talent to the minor league system is that the Yankees have the resource to make a deal. For now, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda are being joined in the rotation by Adam Warren and Freddy Garcia. If Hughes continues to pitch at a high level, that front three is very, very solid, and Garcia has a long history of pitching well.
When Cashman kept stockpiling pitching last off-season, it seemed excessive. But even without a big-ticket move, he’s looking more and more like the smartest guy in the room.