Season in Review: Derek Jeter

After his scorching hot ALDS–he hit .400/.538/.900/1.438–I thought I’d take a look at Derek Jeter’s 2009 season.

A little over a year ago, I ran a very elementary projection that did not bode well for Jeter. Based on what his comparable players did in their age 35 seasons, I predicted Derek to hit .303/.362/.381. At the end, I said I hoped for the Captain to far outplay those numbers this season. Lucky for the Yankees, he did. Jeter racked up a .334/.406/.465 season with a 129 OPS+, his highest since 2006 (132) and the third highest in his career (1999’s 153 is his career high, 2006’s 132 is second). Jeter’s power also rebounded, as his IsoP climbed up from a paltry .107 to a more acceptable .131. However, that mark is still 11 points off his career IsoP, which is .142.

Jeter’s power “resurgence” was fueled by hitting seven more home runs than last season and just two more doubles. It’s worth nothing that a lot of Jeter’s power was helped out by the New Yankee Stadium. His IsoP in home games was .164 whereas his IsoP in away games was a very poor .100. Despite low power totals on the road, just five home runs and the previously mentioned low IsoP, Jeter was still very productive on the road, hitting .337 with a .399 on-base percentage.

Most surprising this season, though, was Derek Jeter’s uptick in fielding. Derek worked hard to improve his fielding in the offseason and it definitely payed off. Jeter posted his first positive UZR/150 season in 2009, when he fielded at 5.3 runs above average per 150 games.

Speaking of advanced statistics, this was Jeter’s best year by Wins Above Replacement since FanGraphs started tracking that stat in 2002. Jeter was worth 7.4 wins above a replacement player this season, trailing only Ben Zobrist and Joe Mauer for the American League lead.

After a slightly disappointing 2008, we all began to wonder if we were seeing the beginning of the end of the great Derek Jeter. This year, though, Derek partied like it was 1999 and had a fantastic season. Hopefully, he can continue this and stay productive over the last years of his career. It has truly been a joy to watch Derek for his entire career and 2009 just made it all the more sweet.

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