At the end of the 2009 season, Derek Jeter had a lifetime batting average of .317. The only players in New York Yankees’ history who did better were Babe Ruth (.349), Lou Gehrig (.340), Earle Combs (.325), and Joe DiMaggio (.325).
In 2010, Jeter batted .270, which lowered his lifetime batting average to .314 and his on base average from .388 to .385.
At the end of the 1950 season, Joe DiMaggio’s had a lifetime average of .329 and a .401 on base average. Joe batted .263 in 1951, which lowered his lifetime average to .325 and his on base average to .398.
The Yankees offered DiMaggio another $100,000 contract for 1952. After all, he was Joe DiMaggio, but Joe refused the offer. He retired, stating that he “no longer was Joe DiMaggio.”
No one has heard Derek Jeter say that he is no longer Derek Jeter. Maybe he is, and maybe he isn’t, but only time will tell.
Today, it is not unusual for corporations such as Major League Baseball to allow teams to give players incentive-laden contracts. The Yankees have offered Jeter a three-year, $45 million contract, which is more than fair. It might be viewed by some as foolish.
The Yankees and the media have emphasized Jeter’s .270 batting average and compare it to his .317 average prior to the 2010 season. Isn’t it ironic that an “overrated statistic,” according to the new age of statistics, is being used to denigrate Jeter’s performance.
Reports indicate that Jeter wants more years and more money, which might be viewed as, at the least, as foolish, but in 2010, we have the incentive-laden contract.
A shortstop who bats .270 with a .340 on base average is an asset, but not for $15 million a season. Jeter is not a slugger, so it would be unfair and inaccurate to bring in home runs and slugging average.
Negotiations should center on incentives, which it is believed the Yankees would not be averse to doing. If Jeter thinks he is still Jeter, he should show some of the class that Joe DiMaggio demonstrated at the end of the 1951 season, accept the $45 million offered, and prove that he can still do it.
Jeter will be 37 years old on June 26. Few shortstops that age excel. Even Cal Ripken, who was no Derek Jeter, moved to third base when he was Jeter’s age.
Alex Rodriguez is the Yankees’ third baseman. Alex has had hip problems, and there has been much talk that in the near future, Alex may become a full time designated hitter, which would open up third base.
Rodriguez would have been ranked as the greatest of all shortstops, but for various reasons, he was willing to play third because Jeter was the shortstop.
The Yankees and Jeter will get together. Eventually, A-Rod will no longer be the third baseman. When that happens, the real test will be whether Jeter is willing to move to third base.