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« Better Judgement | Main | Andy Pettitte's Cutter »
Monday
Nov222010

Derek Jeter 2010: Not a Year of Contact

A few weeks ago, we looked at Jeter’s 2010 and how poorly he hit against RHP. In that post, I noted how Jeter’s power zone (up and away) decreased significantly last season. Jeter tends get his extra base hits on balls up and out over the plate. In 2010, his in play SLG% on pitches to that area of the zone dropped greatly, especially against RHP.

Considering that a decrease in bat speed might be at issue, I decided to look at Jeter’s contact percentage last season to see if anything changed from previous years.
Derek Jeter Contact Rate 2010
So Jeter was swinging and missing at a lot of pitches in an area where he typically generates most of his power. The first thought that comes to mind is a drop in bat speed. I can't attest to whether or not Jeter actually lost anything on his swing in 2010, but he certainly whiffed at a greater rate on pitches up and away. Hard pitches up in the zone are usually tougher to get around on for hitters. If Jeter was experiencing a drop in bat speed, this would be an area we would notice it most, especially against righties with fastballs tailing away.

How do Jeter's contact numbers up in the zone compare to his 2009 numbers?

Derek Jeter Contact Rate 2009 (Selected Zone [518 pitches, 378 swings])
PASLGwOBAContact
vs. LHP45.907.63089.3%
vs. RHP110.642.43485.3%
vs. FB101.765.52086.8%

Derek Jeter Contact Rate 2010 (Selected Zone [421 pitches, 295 Swings])
PASLGwOBAContact
vs. LHP60.719.47483.9%
vs. RHP78.293.24779.5%
vs. FB71.441.31378.9%

Across the board, Jeter’s contact rate was down 5% in 2010. Against fastballs in his power zone, it was down nearly 8%. And against right handed fastballs in that zone, his contact rate was down more than 10% from 2009 (79.4% to 68.7%). Again, I don't know if this is due to a drop in bat speed, or if his bat speed saw any decline at all from 2009 to 2010. However, Jeter was swinging and missing at a greater rate in an area where he gets most of his big hits.

Given the drastic drop in power, Jeter’s 2010 was likely not all a result of decline due to age. He could simply have had an off year, with his problems only partly a result of age related factors. He had a terrible season against RHP which contributed greatly to his overall power outage. However, his numbers do look similar in many respects to his 2008 season numbers, with 2009 looking like the outlier.

I’m really not sure what to expect out of Jeter in 2011. He probably won’t be as bad as he was in 2010. But unless he can correct his troubles against RHP, I doubt we’ll see him approach anything close to his 2009 production.

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