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Derek Jeter leads MLB in ground ball percentage, ranks 188th in slugging percentage

Apr 22, 2011, 2:14 PM EDT

derek jeter yankees yawning

Derek Jeter quickly ditching the “new swing” he worked on with hitting coach Kevin Long hasn’t helped his production, as the Yankees shortstop is batting just .219 with a .282 on-base percentage and .234 slugging percentage in 16 games.

Jeter is still doing a fine job controlling the strike zone, drawing six walks compared to just five strikeouts, but he’s managed a grand total of one extra-base hit (a double against the Twins on April 7) in 64 at-bats.

And there’s a simple explanation for Jeter’s lack of pop: He’s hitting everything on the ground.

Jeter has never been a slugger and has always been a ground-ball hitter, but prior to this season he averaged 55 extra-base hits per 160 games for his career and his ground-ball rates have never been this extreme. Not only does he lead MLB in ground-ball percentage at 72.9, second-place Alcides Escobar of the Royals is at 68.5 percent and no one else in either league above 65.5 percent.

Here are Jeter’s ground-ball percentages for the past five seasons:

YEAR      GB%
2007     56.1
2008     58.3
2009     57.0
2010     65.7
2011     72.9

Not only is 72.9 percent ground balls by far a career-high for Jeter, last year’s mark of 65.7 percent is the only other time he’s topped 60 percent grounders. There are plenty of very successful hitters with high ground-ball rates, with Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki being the leading examples, but there’s a big difference between hitting 55-60 percent ground balls and hitting 70 percent ground balls.

His batting average is going to rise from .219, but if Jeter doesn’t start hitting the ball in the air he’s going to have a very hard time avoiding a sub-.400 slugging percentage for the second straight season after topping .400 in 15 consecutive years. In his 145 most recent games dating back to May of last season Jeter has hit .257 with six homers, 25 doubles, and a .336 slugging percentage.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Apr 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    He also has GREAT success in hitting those ground balls into double plays.

    • uyf1950 - Apr 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

      My friend, that’s pretty funny actually. It made me laugh.

      • yankeesfanlen - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        uyf- Many a truth is said in jest. You’re aware of my opinion that while we have to get our rotation in order, which is happening, we have to rely on offense to win games. I am ill at ease anytime the lineup has Gardner and Jeter together-this year they’re a rally-killer waiting to happen. We need to score a minimum of six runs a game, and much as I’d like they can’t all be home runs.

    • Panda Claus - Apr 22, 2011 at 4:17 PM

      This just in, he ranks #1 in the ability to generate comments on HardBallTalk.

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 22, 2011 at 4:55 PM

        Pugsley, Bud Light and Luke Scott disagree.

  2. Gordon - Apr 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Wow…and this guy is the highest paid shortstop in the league. Money well spent Yanks!

    • uyf1950 - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:05 PM

      Gordon, look at the bright side. He could be playing left field for the Red Sox and be under contract for the next 7 years for $142MM ($20MM plus on average) and be batting as of today .143 Now that’s really money well spent.

      • gwylie1 - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:48 PM

        crawford will turn it around

      • Mike Luna - Apr 22, 2011 at 4:04 PM

        While I still think the Sox overpaid for Crawford, there’s no chance he’s going to play this badly all season long.

        Like all long-term contracts, Crawford probably won’t be worth the money in 2017, but he’s far from falling over a cliff like Jeter seems to have. Maybe Jeter turns it around a bit this year, but I shudder to think about what he’ll look like in 2013.

      • uyf1950 - Apr 22, 2011 at 4:36 PM

        Mike – no one can play as badly as Crawford has been playing so far all season long. Of course he’s going to pick it up. But is he going to pick it up enough not only this season but for all 7 years to justify $142MM. I doubt it.

        As for Jeter I don’t think the Yankees are paying $51MM over the next 3 years with the expectation that he’s going to be worth all that money on the field. If you followed any of negotiations this winter it was about what he’s meant to the organization as a whole.

        Let’s revisit this conversation in 3 years when Jeter’s contract with the Yankees is up and the Red Sox still owe Crawford about $80MM for the 4 years after that.

      • Jack Marshall - Apr 22, 2011 at 5:38 PM

        Wanna bet which contract looks better three months from now?

      • uyf1950 - Apr 22, 2011 at 6:35 PM

        Jack, I’d be happy to if you’re willing to bet which contract looks better 3 years from now.

        BTW, even if Crawford improves significantly there is no way in the world he’s worth $20MM per year (on average) for 7 years. A singles hitter that steals 40 odd bases a year and plays left field in front of the green monster, isn’t worth $142MM over 7 years. You can try and justify it all you want but I’m sorry he just isn’t worth it.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 22, 2011 at 8:19 PM

        Yeah… excluding his down-outlier 2008, Carl Crawford hasn’t stolen less than 46 bases since he became a full-time player and hasn’t ISO’d less than .147 since 2003. I think you’ve mischaracterized him a wee bit.

      • uyf1950 - Apr 22, 2011 at 9:06 PM

        Kevin S – The only problem with your comment is you have to get on base to steal bases. The only way to get on base is via hits or walks and right now he’s doing neither. As for your comment about his past. I believe if you check in most if not all of those years your are referencing he was batting in the .300’s after 15 or 20 games this year he’s not even batting .150
        It’s not me that’s mis-characterizing him. I merely stated the facts of his performance so far this season and drew a conclusion based on those facts. Can the facts change later on sure, but as of today his performance is what it is.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 23, 2011 at 7:50 AM

        Yeah… using three weeks of games to throw out eight years of career doesn’t work.

      • uyf1950 - Apr 23, 2011 at 12:17 PM

        Kevin S – you’re right if you take his entire career and throw all the numbers into a pot your right about the stolen bases. Or we can can his most recent years 2009 and 2010 and see how this year(2011) stacks up at least in the first 18 games against those. For example In: 2010 after 18 games Crawford had stolen 12 bases of his 47 total for the entire year or 25.5% his batting average was .319 after 18 games. In 2009 Crawford had stolen 18 bases of his 60 total for the entire year of 30% his batting average was .284 after 18 games. If one assumes this year will track along those same lines then after 18 games this year he has 4 stolen bases and that should be about 30% of his years total he should finish the year at about 14 or 15 stolen bases. Keep in mind his BA to date is .135 that’s 150 to 175 points less then his previous 2 years. Now I’m not so naive to think he will finish with 14 or 15 stolen bases for the year. But I do think based on these 18 games he is probably looking at an end of the year number for a BA of .265 to .275 and a stolen base total of about 35 and no more then 40 in my opinion. Red Sox fans should at least recognize that for him to steal about 50 bases as you seem to think he will (based on past history) he needs to pick it up and I mean really pick it up. Because to reach 50 stolen bases in the remaining 144 games he needs to steal about 1 base per for every 3 games that remain. Again, this is just my opinion to do that he is probably going to have to hit at a clip of .340 for the remainder of the season. Can he? I don’t think so but, we’ll see. Obviously all this is all speculation and just the opinion of one fan.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 23, 2011 at 6:16 PM

        Crawford is 29. Sure, he may not steal 50 bases or hit 20 homers this year, but he’s going to perform at a pretty good rate. Not quite his usual $22M season, but pretty good. ZIPS projections, which are updated partway through the year, has him ending at .278/.328/.428, with 12 HRs and 42 SBs.

        Jeter is 36. He has one extra base hit. This coming off a severely disappointing season where he couldn’t hit and couldn’t field. He wasn’t worth $15M last year, and he’s going to be even worse this year. And worse still the next two years. ZIPS has him finishing at .270/.335/.368 for the year, 10 HRs and 14 SBs.

        Sure, Crawford’s contract pays him more, but unless he’s magically fallen off a cliff at 29, he’ll come close to earning it. Jeter fell off a cliff last year at 35 and has found a new cliff to fall off of this year at 36. And yes, Crawford’s contract pays him for longer, but “only” until he’s 36, while Jeter’s pays him until he’s 39. Crawford will be younger when his contract runs out than Jeter is now, and Derek has three years of underperforming to go.

      • uyf1950 - Apr 23, 2011 at 6:47 PM

        Ari – One question for you and then one observation;
        First the question. Do you think that if Crawford put up the numbers your quoting from ZIPS for this year in 2010 that the Red Sox would have offered him a 7 year $142MM contract?
        Now for my observation. I would hope and expect a player in his prime (Crawford) to outperform a player (Jeter) in the twilight of his career after having played 16 plus years in perhaps the most demanding position for a position player in all of baseball. As for your numbers according to ZIPS, at a glance they don’t seems significantly different then the numbers I anticipated for him in my latest reply to Kevin S. Also, I’m not sure but the numbers you quoted for Jeter again according to ZIPS doen’t seem significantly different than Crawford’s ZIPS numbers in your reply. Listen, all of this will play out over the course of the year. As well all know myself included Jeter isn’t worth $17MM per year just for his on field performance. No argument there. But like I said earlier anyone that thinks Crawford is worth $142MM for the next 7 years ($20MM + on average) is kidding themselves. Yes, that is just my opinion.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 23, 2011 at 7:01 PM

        Yes, you would expect someone who’s 29 to outperform someone’s who’s 36. You’d also expect someone who’s 29 and coming off a great year to get significantly more money per year than someone who’s 36 and coming off a terrible year. That’s why Jeter’s contract is worse.

        No, Crawford would not have gotten that deal. And that would have been great, because he would have come at a discount over the numbers he’s likely to put up form here on out.

        No, the numbers aren’t significantly more than your off-the-cuff projection for Crawford, which was really a reasonable estimate. They are still more, though, above what you thought was the best he could do.

        As to the difference between the estimates for the players, the OBPs are close, but 60 points of slugging and 30 SBs are fairly significant.

        Sure, some of what Jeter’s earning is recouped in off-the-field earnings, but how much? To make an argument that he’s worth $17M, you’d have to have some actual numbers, not just guesses as to how much he’s worth. I personally doubt it’s worth more than the luxury tax hit the Yankees are paying on his contract. Jeter’s only earning $17M, but the Yankees are paying him $24M, Which is MORE than the Sox are paying out for Crawford.

      • uyf1950 - Apr 23, 2011 at 7:32 PM

        Ari – comparing SB between the two players is disingenuous. Jeter isn’t now and never has been a prolific base stealer and Yankees haven’t need him to or asked him to be. That comparison is like me comparing the two players walks (bases on balls) numbers over their careers. both comparisons detract or would detract from the real issue. You continue to bring up Jeter’s payroll. I’ve acknowledged probably no less then 6 times here alone and many times during the FA period rather adamantly that Jeter isn’t worth that salary. It’s unfortunate that you and other Red Sox fans can’t or aren’t willing to accept that same fact about Crawford’s salary. With that I’m done discussing this topic. Good luck this evening and enjoy the Sox/Angels game.

  3. cur68 - Apr 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    His hands seem higher than they used to be IMO. I wonder if that’s not part the problem. That and being too old for his spot in the rotation.

  4. bobwsc - Apr 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Mo Vaughn could teach him the upper cut swing…and the art of strip clubbin’

  5. Panda Claus - Apr 22, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    Derek’s numbers will probably bounce back a bit in Baltimore this weekend.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 22, 2011 at 5:34 PM

      Not with the way that rotation’s going.

  6. scatterbrian - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    Who cares? Dude oozes intangibles and puts butts in seats.

    • yankeesfanlen - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Let him play for Joe Maddon then.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Only player to EVER wear the pinstripes and get 3,000 hits. I hate the Yankers, but I respect Jeter and Rivera more than any other players in MLB.

    • paperlions - Apr 22, 2011 at 3:58 PM

      How many hits? Jeter has been great, it will be sad to see if he sticks around for all 3 years of his contract, sleeping during games and making the manager out to be the bad guy because he doesn’t know when to hang them up.
      Remember a few years ago when people seriously considered whether or not Jeter would get to 4000 hits?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Apr 22, 2011 at 4:03 PM

        Are you saying you don’t think he will get to 3,000 hits?

      • paperlions - Apr 22, 2011 at 4:13 PM

        He probably will, if I had to bet on it, I’d say that he will….but he’s old and been bad for a year+….he’s one freak injury away from not making it. If there is anything we’ve learned over the years it is that until a player reaches a milestone, it isn’t safe to assume he will.

  8. JBerardi - Apr 22, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Declining player is declining.

  9. sanzarq - Apr 22, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Jeter is pretty much washed up, which is why I thought it ridiculous that the Yankees showered even more millions on him with their ill-advised extension. Sure, he’s been the face of the Yanks for years now, but why does that mean that any team should drastically over-pay for such lousy production. I’ve never understood this “bullshit” about “respect:. Jeter was paid very well for his past performances; he doesn’t need to be rewarded like Croesus for his current failures. Some guys just hang around too long.

    • marinersnate - Apr 23, 2011 at 2:55 AM

      Leave Derek Jeter alone.

  10. kappy32 - Apr 22, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    @Yankeesfanlen, how in the world could you say that the Yanks are getting their rotation in order? Are we watching the same 2011 Yankees? That rotation is horrendous & minus adding a 1 & a 2 at the deadline, it’s going to keep the Yankees out of the playoffs. Outside CC, there is absolutely no consistency in that staff. Even CC is known to lose his concentration & give up 6-7 runs in an outing every once in a while. Burnett is going to fall off come May, as he always does. Ivan Nova is NOT a big-league caliber SP. Colon & Garcia are shells of their former selves & it’s only a matter of weeks that their age rears its ugly head. Most importantly, I don’t see Phil Hughes battling out of his current “slump.” The guy relies on his heat so his curve & change are effective. Hughes doesnt have the stuff (movement) to change himself into a finesse pitcher. There seems to be an epidemic in the MLB where quality SPs are losing their velocity without explanation. I don’t know if it’s the crackdown on PEDs, more importantly amphetamines, but this mysterious loss of velocity in the MLB is crazy. Right now, the Yanks are the 3rd best team in that division & unless they add some top-caliber arms, they’re in trouble. Stating that their rotation is “coming together” is delusional, bro.

    I’m a Mets fan, but I don’t live in pretendland. I know my team is weak. I know they have 3 guys in their rotation that more than likely wouldn’t make half of the other ballclubs. I also know that they are relying on “prospects” that have no business being in the Majors, such as Duda, Thole and Parnell. I most importantly know that the Mets are the kings of over-hyping bad baseball players such as Angel Pagan. With that, I am certain that they will be lucky to win 80 games this year. However, I’m not living under the illusion that they’re good like many Yankee fans are. It’s time to temper your expectations & realize the Yanks are nowhere near as good as they used to be. This year’s team is old on the offensive front & just plain bad with their pitching. Face facts, dude. This is the worst Yankees team since the one that missed the playoffs a couple years back.

    • yankeesfanlen - Apr 22, 2011 at 7:54 PM

      The Yankees have been working through their inadequacies very well so far, thank you. We’ll work on the rotation until there is no one left to bring up, if need be, and I agree that Nova is not ready for prime time either. But our bullpen has been very capable and can wrap up a game as early as the sixth inning if we’re in striking distance.
      The offense is 9 runs scored ahead of anyone else in the AL East so that speaks for itself.My point was that I don’t mlike Gardner and Jeter back-to-back.
      My prediction from pre-season stands: 95 Wins.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Apr 22, 2011 at 9:23 PM

        “We’ll work on the rotation until there is no one left to bring up, if need be, and I agree that Nova is not ready for prime time either. But our bullpen has been very capable and can wrap up a game as early as the sixth inning if we’re in striking distance.”

        We’ll??? Our??? Mr. Cashman? Is that you?

  11. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 22, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Derek Jeter is an average baseball player who we all know is paid handsomely for who he used to be. What more is there to add?

    • nyyankeefanforever - Apr 24, 2011 at 1:50 AM

      23 jealous Yankee haters liked that banal comment? Don’t worry, I won’t touch that thumbs down because it’s really like a monumentally accurate jerk detector, ID’ing the precise number of people drawn to a thread that has nothing whatsoever to do with their favorite team and feel they must troll and click thumbs to signify their brotherhood and Yankee jealousy and envy. Would any of the 23 care to identify the team they follow that makes them such an expert on great contractual deals and superior talent evaluation? …Yeah, I thought not. Sleep tight trolls.

  12. bigbbfan - Apr 22, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Unfortunately not all 162 games are against Baltimore. Jeter is a total waste of 4 to 5 at bats every game.

  13. nyyankeefanforever - Apr 23, 2011 at 3:36 AM

    To date:

    Jeter: 9 runs scored + 4 rbis = 12 runs
    Crawford 3 runs scored + 3 rbis = 6 runs

    Twice as many runs and less than half the salary for the captain. Argument over.

    Side note: Went to the Trop last week and me and a buddy bought a couple of K-Mart Rays T-shirts and added “Fuld Ya Red Sox” on the back because MLB and the team don’t have Sam Fuld shirts out yet. The joke: The Sox paid “lc” the 10th biggest c ontract in history and they not only didnt get the best left fielder in MLB — they didn’t even get the best left fielder on the RAYS!! Made diamond vision and national TV wearing ’em and and more than a few visiting Boston fans approaching us to buy them to wear back in Fenway. (Turned ’em down but educated them on the magic of iron-on lettering…LMAO!)

    Newsflash: Crawford doesn’t hit HRs, doesn’t drive in runs, ain’t in a dome anymore; ain’t in a righty-weighted lineup anymore and ain’t NEVER hit or fielded well at Fenway in his career. All he ever did was steal bases after being walked by the Sox weak-azzed rotation, and was fortunate enough to be an FA when Werth decided not to return Epstein’s call and sign with the Nats.

    Jeter on his worst day makes li’l cc look week on his best day. Live with it.

    If you sabergeek Yankee bashers want to argue, ya better come back when “li’l cc” is playing better than somebody — or anybody — debuting this week from Triple A.

    • nyyankeefanforever - Apr 23, 2011 at 3:40 AM

      Correction: that’s 13 runs for DJ….dang bberry keyboard…lol!

    • jstrizzle - Apr 23, 2011 at 12:33 PM

      For the love of god learn the meaning of sample size. We are 20 or so games into a 162 game season. It would be like in football a team losing their first 2 games and declaring them out of the playoffs. By your accounts teams should be salivating at the thought of Willie Bloomquist becoming a free agent this summer because of his 7 runs and 11 RBI. That is 18 total runs!

      Side note: Please stop calling them rbis (Runs Batted Ins?). That is just one of my biggest pet peeves.

      • nyyankeefanforever - Apr 24, 2011 at 1:38 AM

        Yeah exactly right, pea-brain. This whole article and subsequent stupid comments like yours are ALL based on a ridiculously small sample size. You can’t have it both ways, saying he’s a ground ball machine and washed-up, and then in the next breath attack me for calling attention to his positives over the same period of time. Hypocrisy is one of MY pet peeves. … and sorry you hate to hear about his ribbies. Take a pill and deal with it.

  14. Mike Luna - Apr 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Congratulations to all of the Yankee fans in this thread. You are the masters of misdirection, as you have somehow turned all of the attention away from your old, slow, GB-hitting SS.

    Somehow this has become about Carl Crawford vs. Jeter, even though the original article never mentioned Crawford at all.

    The most amusing thing about all of this is that you’re acting as if the Yankee people are somehow smarter than the Red Sox people because they didn’t sign Crawford.

    Let’s be honest with ourselves, though.

    The Yankees didn’t go after Crawford because they thought that their needs were elsewhere, which they were (SP, ‘pen, catcher). If they thought they needed OF help, there’s no question that they would have made a very sizable offer not unlike the one given to him by the Sox.

    But they didn’t really make an offer and he hasn’t been very good, so now you can all gloat as if you had anything to do with Crawford’s sizable contract or his poor performance.

    Yankees fans are sooooooo much smarter than everyone else! And more handsome too!

    • nyyankeefanforever - Apr 24, 2011 at 1:56 AM

      Smarter and better looking…why yes, now that you mention it, I have noticed that. However, i’ll just point out that it was a defensive Red Sox fan higher up in the comments who first raised raised the issue about Crawford, implying that Crawford will “likely” turn things around for himself in Boston and that Jeter likely won’t — and that inane ignorant comment, my friend, is what.triggered the comparison. Read before you post.

      • Ari Collins - Apr 24, 2011 at 9:38 AM

        Actually, it was uyf, a Yankee fan, who brought up Crawford. But at least he was polite.

      • Mike Luna - Apr 24, 2011 at 10:29 PM

        Yep, it’s uyf that kicked this whole thing off.

        The original comment reads — “Gordon, look at the bright side. He could be playing left field for the Red Sox and be under contract for the next 7 years for $142MM ($20MM plus on average) and be batting as of today .143 Now that’s really money well spent.”

        So, I can read just fine. Also, you and I are not friends.

  15. deathmonkey41 - Apr 23, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Great article- does it get filed under “No Sh#t, Sherlock”? All you have to do is watch any Yankees game last season or this season to know that he’s most likely going to ground out softly to the shortstop or second baseman. Unless of course, there’s someone on base- then he’ll hit it harder to make sure the infielders have the time to turn two.

    • nyyankeefanforever - Apr 24, 2011 at 1:41 AM

      That’s right monkeybreath. All you had to do was watch the Yankees last season and you’d have seen a Gold Glove winner who was the only shortstop in baseball to score over a hundred runs….and that’s not counting his ribbies, either.

      • all4tookie - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:39 PM

        ..not sure if troll

  16. pjmarn3 - Apr 23, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    The salary of baseball players is ridiculous. And of course it is the fans who pay for it. Wouldn’t you love to be guaranteed 5 million dollars for doing no work? For the average joe that is 100 years gross salary. And these idiots have no stress. Bat 140 or 300 it is the same. With a guaranteed multi year salary, they are set for several life times. Now if there was a piecemeal salary guide where they get paid by the hit, home run, rbi, wins, innings pitched, you would definitely see things turn around. No production less pay. All of us get fired and no bread on the table. With Yankees Rodriquez, he gets over 40,000 for just strolling to the plate and about 7,000 for every pitch thrown at him. Am I the only one to be outraged by this crap?
    I remember the furor when Mickey Mantle got the first $100,000 salary. I also remember when wpix channel 11 NYC televised all the yank games for free. And I remember that occasionally the announcers had no commercials between games and had to relate tidbits about the players and the game.
    Now you see any kid up from the minors making the $400,000 minimum. You can’t see or listen to the games or attend a game without paying a fortune. Hell I can go down to the local park and watch a free Babe Ruth game with more excitement and dedication.

    • uyf1950 - Apr 24, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      My friend if you are so outraged by the Major League baseball salaries no one is forcing you to watch the games or subscribe to the MLB Networt or the Yes Network or any one the other options. Heck no one’s even forcing you to subscribe to cable or satellite and watch 1 hour TV shows that are actually about 25 minutes of programming and 35 minutes of commercials. You can always go to the park and feed the pigeons.

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