Jeter’s place in team history is indisputable, but his current place in the lineup and on the field has become open to discussion.
“I don’t try to prove anything to anyone,” Jeter said. “I try to help our team win. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. There’s constant questions. This isn’t the first year I’ve been asked questions. I’ve been asked questions last year, so it’s nothing new to me. I try not to pay attention to it. I try to improve.
“There are going to periods when you play well and periods when you play poorly. I’ll just try to go out there and be a little bit more consistent than I’ve been so far. I try to focus on positives, and I’m going to try to move forward. I can’t change anything that’s happened up until this point. I can just focus on the rest of this season.”
Jeter’s detractors will point to his diminished range at shortstop. His supporters will note that he rarely makes errors, and that Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena — far more dynamic defenders — have combined for 15 errors.
Jeter’s detractors will point to his career lows in batting average and on-base percentage, and to the fact that his OBP is lower than every other Yankees regular. His supporters will note that Jeter’s been especially productive in the first inning, and that the Yankees best alternative in the leadoff spot — Brett Gardner — has been remarkably streaky, including a .261 on-base percentage in his last 12 games before Jeter’s return.
Jeter’s detractors will point to Nunez’s bat, speed and arm strength and say it’s time to begin the transition at shortstop. His supporters will note Nunez’s fielding errors and the fact he was hitting just .255/.309/.353 as Jeter’s replacement before those two huge games at Citi Field.
“You miss (Jeter)’s leadership,” Joe Girardi said. “You miss his consistency. What he does. His consistent personality on a daily basis. What he brings to your lineup. What he brings to your defense. You miss him. It’s not easy to replace someone like Derek Jeter.”
Jeter’s detractors will say Girardi is blindly throwing his faith behind an aging player who’s time has come and gone.
Jeter’s supporters will say Girardi is simply stating the obvious.
Associated Press photo