Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Derek Jeter Has Had Enough of His 'Swinging' Singles Days

You have to feel for Derek Jeter.
I mean, not that much--the guy is still the toast of New York, he's engaged to Minka Kelly, and he's got that mega-manse down in St. Jetersburg.
But there he is, a man who values privacy the way Bartolo Colon values cheezeburgers, on the front page of the New York Times, addressing his season long--make that, year-long--slump. Not the front page of the Sports, he's been there before. We're talking page A-1--sharing space with President Obama and Bin Laden and other global luminaries present and past.
Jeter's stats may be down, way down, this season. But the Times suggests he's leading in one crucial category: the swinging bunt.
Writes Ben "Buy a Vowel" Shpigel:
The only offensive category in which he leads the major leagues is infield hits — and, well, it isn’t his speed that accounts for that.

The swinging bunt. The most flaccid of batter outcomes in baseball, perhaps even more ignominious than the strikeout. At least you don't have to sprint to first--running twice as far as your ball did--after a strikeout.
The swinging bunt. When it happened back in childhood sandlot ball, we called "cheap!" and made it a do-over.
Yet Jeter--the Prince of the City, The Captain--is riding those "cheap" balls all the way to first with frightening regularity.
Writes Shpigel:
[Detroit third base coach Gene] Lamont said the Tigers had not been positioning their infielders any differently to guard against what has become Jeter’s perhaps most noticeable offensive trait this year — the swinging bunt, 60-foot dribblers up the third-base line. He had 10 infield singles, and many have been nubbers or bouncers that do not reach the dirt of the basepaths, as opposed to sharply hit balls that ricochet off an infielder or shoot deep in the hole.
Jeter is 48 hits--swinging bunts and searing liners alike--away from 3,000. It's safe to say he won't enjoy the media's buildup to the historic event--especially if he remains homerless dating back to last summer.

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