Don’t believe in Derek Jeter‘s power resurgence! Jeter’s 15 homers last year were his most since 2009 (18), and he’s only hit 15+ in a season twice in the last seven years. His 16.1% HR/FB rate was his highest since reach 17.1% back in 2005, and in four of the last five years his HR/FB rate has been under 10.0%.
But while Jeter is probably more of a 7-10 homer guy, that doesn’t mean he’s not immensely valuable. He’ll score at a 100-run pace, bat around .300, and steal some bases, too. Plus, he gets so many at-bats that his .300 average carries extra weight. In fact, Jeter’s .316 BA in 683 plate appearances last year was worth as much someone batting .335 over 500 at-bats.
On the negative side, Jeter is clearly in decline. His walk rate has fallen each year since 2009, but he’s also seen his strikeout rate fall each year since 2010. He was never much of a fly ball hitter, but his best fly ball rate in the last three years is 18.6% (another reason why expecting double-digit homers is a leap of faith). Because of his skill set, Jeter’s decline will probably be slower than most, but one of these days we’re going to look up and see him finish the year batting .275 with 80 runs, six homers, fifty RBI and just 10 SB, and that will officially be the end of Jeter’s run.
At a Glance
Strengths: R, BA
Neutral: RBI, SB, OBP, OPS
Weaknesses: HR, SLG
Best-case scenario: Joe Mauer (C)
Likely scenario: Erick Aybar (LAA), Martin Prado (ATL), Denard Span (WAS)
Worst-case scenario: Marco Scutaro (SF)
Derek Jeter 2013 Fantasy Projection
Jeter is on target to play Opening Day, which is a good sign for anyone who drafts him this March. Still, he’ll be 39 years old this June and is coming off ankle surgery, so thoughts of a 700+ plate appearance season might be a bit optimistic. (Note: I said “optimistic” not “unrealistic.”) He’ll score the runs, hit for average, steal some bases, and knock out the occasional homer, and he’s pretty balanced as far as fantasy shortstops go.
In keeper leagues he might actually be a good value this year if your league tends to overrate players’ age (like many keeper leagues do). Jeter takes a hit in leagues that count OBP, SLG, or OPS as he’s not much of a walker anymore (I’m aware his OPS was .366 last year but his walk rate is declining and we project a .292 BA, all of which equals an OBP around .335) and he’ll probably struggle to post a slugging percentage better than .390-.400. For those of you who weren’t math majors, that’s a projected OPS of about .725, otherwise known as “pulling an Omar Infante.”