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The Curious Case of Derek Jeter

USA TODAY Sports

"Now Batting for the Yankees, Number 2 Derek Jeter, Number 2," - Bob "The Voice of God" Sheppard. Derek Jeter's name carries more weight than any other player's in all of baseball. Whether you are an opposing fan or a Yankees fan, hearing The Captain being announced as he steps to the plate gives you chills. It's pretty hard to truly dislike Jeter. He has never made an off the field gaffe, nor has he ever showboated on the field. He has never left his team for a more lucrative contract. He has never shown up an umpire and he has never even slipped up in a post-game press conference. What Jeter has done is win, produce, win some more, and oh did I mention win? Jeet is the closest an athlete of any sport can get to perfect. Sure, I am a little biased because my room is covered in so many Derek Jeter posters that I have forgotten what color the walls are painted, but I know I don't stand alone on my views. Even when Jeter comes to the dish at Fenway, I have a feeling that Sox fans are booing out of respect, not A-Rod like hatred. Did I take it too far?

Sadly, when playing fantasy baseball all of these characteristics are put on the back burner. If intangibles, passion, leadership, legacy, and heart were some of the categories in a 5x5 Rotisserie format, then Jeter would be my number one overall pick. Coming into the last few Major League Baseball seasons, we have heard about how Jeter is on his last legs. This opinion is voiced even more now that Jeter is coming off of a broken ankle. He turns 39 in June of 2013 and all sorts of people are calling the nearest nursing home to see if there is a room available for The Captain. I'm here to tell everybody who fits this description to slow your roll. Jeet's 2012 was amazing and the last time I checked, a 39 year old isn't that much different than a 38 year old. I believe that Derek Jeter is still a very viable fantasy shortstop and will, once again, silence the critics in 2013.

Derek Jeter's 2012 Statistics: .316 BA, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 99 Runs, 9 SB, .429 SLG,
.362 OBP

Yeah, take some time to stare at these numbers in awe. Jeter flat out raked in 2012. On top of these stats, he also led the league in hits (216) and batted a murderous .364 against lefties. 15 homers (only 6 coming at home) isn't too shabby either, huh? Jeter's legs still seem to be working too because this "grandpa" swiped 9 bags last year. However, Jeter did put up a couple of alarming statistics. His walk rate of 6.1% in 2012 was the lowest of any full season in his illustrious career, but he matched this by posting a career-low 12.2% strikeout rate. In 2012, Jeter had a career high 3.94 ground ball to flyball ratio, but he also had a line drive rate of 21.7%, which is over his career average. Another stat that has people doubting Jeter's 2012 is his batting average on balls in play, which takes into account how many of the balls he actually put in play went for hits (disregarding home runs). Last year, Jeet's BABIP was .347. The "norm" is considered to be .300, making Jeter's success seem like a product of luck. All in all, Derek Jeter had a very productive 2012 season.

So what should you expect from Jeter in 2013? The Yankees lost some pop in their lineup, as Nick Swisher and Russell Martin have departed, while Alex Rodriguez will be sitting on top of a pile of money somewhere in Florida for a considerable portion of the upcoming season. I think the Yanks will find other ways to produce runs however, so don't expect a drastic drop off in Jeter's runs. As baseball players age, their bat speed decreases. So yes, even the untouchable Jeter will lose some power. Also, coming off of ankle surgery will certainly impact The Captain's stolen base total. It probably isn't the most realistic to think that Jeter will lead the league in hits again. So I project Jeter to put up numbers similar to these in 2013:

Derek Jeter's Projected 2013 Statistics: .297 BA, 12 HR, 54 RBI, 95 Runs, 6 SB

Now what does this mean for you fantasy wise? Even if Jeter puts up these declining numbers, he would still be a top ten fantasy shortstop. The position is the furthest thing from deep. You have your top guys in Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez. Then you have your second tier guys that include Ian Desmond, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jimmy Rollins. Lastly, in the third tier of shortstops you can find Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy, Erick Aybar, Josh Rutledge, Stephen Drew, and Everth Cabrera. I think Jeter is a floater between the second and third tiers. This means that you can probably nab Jeter in the middle rounds of your draft, most likely somewhere between rounds 9 (if you play with an extreme Yankee fanatic) and 15 (if you play with a bunch of haters). You definitely do not want to wait a while to fill your shortstop slot, so if Jeter is available in one of these rounds, don't feel terrible about drafting him. I have no doubt that Jeet will give you solid numbers and be of great value in 2013. So, whether you're a fan or not, respect the man's legacy. Do not jump to draft Jeter too early, but also don't let him sit on the draft board forever. Yes, Derek Jeter is aging, but I believe he will be a viable fantasy shortstop in the upcoming 2013 season.

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