After being sent to the DL for the fourth time this year, Derek Jeter’s season is “effectively over” according to Brian Cashman. The New York Yankees finally decided to shut down their longtime captain’s 2013 campaign after the shortstop aggravated his surgically repaired ankle in a September 7 loss against the Boston Red Sox. This is no easy pill to swallow. Yankees’ fans already know that this season will be the last for Mariano Rivera. Could this also be the end for Jeter?
The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer has been the face of the most historic franchise in baseball for eighteen years. During that span, he has accumulated five World Series Championships as well as countless personal accolades which he rarely acknowledges. Jeter is not just the face of a team – he is the face of a sport – an icon, a class act, a team-player, and a champion that nearly two decades of little leaguers have admired and aspired to become. While losing Jeter might not stop the Yankees from earning a wildcard berth, it probably erases all remaining hope of a successful postseason.
Read more after the jump...
As an incredible influence both on and off the field, Jeter demands respect through leading by example. He never gives less than 100%, which is why his unimpressive performance this season was so alarming. He rushed back from the broken left ankle that knocked him out of last year’s ALCS against the Detroit Tigers and never truly looked healthy this season. He was noticeably cautious and sluggish.
Jeter played his first game of the season on July 11 but returned to the DL after injuring his quad that same day while trying to overcompensate for his weak ankle. He then returned to the lineup on July 28 and played in four games, but was sent back to the DL with a calf strain. Finally he attempted one last comeback on August 26 and played in twelve more games, but the re-aggravation in his bad ankle confirmed the suspicions that he was not ready to play.
It is hard to believe that Jeter will fully overcome these injuries and become an effective player again. His .190 batting average was a dramatic drop-off from his .316 average in 2012. Yet despite these poor individual numbers, New York managed a 9-8 record in the 17 games that Jeter played this season. Their win percentage with him on the field (.529) was practically the same as their win percentage without him (.531) even though he struggled to produce. Nevertheless, Jeter admitted that he was “not benefiting the team” the way he wanted to and he is on board with the decision to end his 2013 season on the DL.
The Yankees quickly made a deal on Tuesday night to acquire Brendan Ryan from the Seattle Mariners to help fill their void at shortstop. Jeter plans to play next season, but he turns 40 next June, just before a three game series at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox. Hopefully the extra recovery time will allow him to continue playing quality baseball on both offense and defense. But for now, one of the greatest players in baseball history will be relegated to the cheering section. Even for fans of rival teams, it is unsatisfying to see a legend like Jeter go out so ordinarily. This ankle injury could mark the end of Jeter’s career – but as a lifelong Red Sox fan, I doubt it.