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Derek Jeter Vying for AL Batting Title: Five Reasons Why He Can Win

September 18th, 2012 at 5:03 PM
By Chris Ruck

With 16 games remaining on the New York Yankees schedule, Derek Jeter is currently third in the AL batting title race (.323).  He trails Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout (.329) and Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera (.330).  Though his window of opportunity is closing rapidly as the season draws to an end, here are five reasons why Jeter can be crowned the king.

'Derek Jeter' photo (c) 2008, Keith Allison - license:

Most Hits
Derek Jeter leads not only the AL, but the MLB in hits this season.  His 199 hits through September 17 give him more hits than the top two AL batting average leaders. Thirteen more hits than Cabrera and 33 more than Trout (granted Trout was an early season call-up by the Angels).  Jeter is also tied with Cabrera for most multi-hit games in the AL at 60.  His ability to fight off pitches and drive balls the other way allow him to rack up base hits with more consistency than any one else in the league.
Lower strikeout ratio
Derek Jeter puts the ball in play at a more consistent rate than Cabrera or Trout.  Trout strikes out every 4.20 at bats and Cabrera every 6.39.  Jeter’s 81 punch outs in 617 at bats gives him a strikeout rate of 7.62.  His ability to put the ball in play will undoubtedly result in more hits and naturally a higher batting average the rest of the way.
More protection 
Another factor is Jeter’s protection behind him in the Yankees lineup. Pitchers across the league will attack Jeter and give him pitches to hit.  They will do so because they know if they walk him there is a plethora of power and speed behind him.  If you walk Jeter you put him on to face the likes of Granderson, Cano, A-Rod, Swisher and normally Teixeira.  All of whom have incredible potential to change a game with one swing of the bat.  On the other hand, if you throw Cabrera garbage, or even walk him, you only have one true threat to worry about behind him in Price Fielder.  The Angels lineup behind Trout, though stout with arguably the best hitter of the last decade in Albert Pujols, is an overall weaker lineup.  Long story short, Jeter will see much better pitches to hit the remainder of the season.
More At Bats
A large factor that will come into play down the stretch is their number of official at bats.  Jeter leads the AL with 617 official plate appearances.  That is a whopping 54 more plate appearances than Cabrera and 113 more than Trout.  What exactly does this mean?  It means every out Jeter records will affect his overall batting average significantly less than the other two.  To put it in more perspective; 110 official at bats is well over a months worth of games.  Now, you can play Devil's advocate and say his excess of at bats will prevent his average from rising as well.  However, in a game where failing 70% of the time puts you in the hall of fame I'd roll the dice on the fact that Jeter’s outs will maintain more stability for his batting average than Cabrera’s and Trout’s.
The “X” factor
Let’s face it, the Captain is clutch.  At this point in the season the Yankees are in a dogfight for the playoffs.  All stats, and assumptions aside, you can expect Jeter to rise to the occasion and lead this team into the playoffs. Pitchers across the league are figuring out the phenomenal rookie creature that is Mike Trout, leading him to post a .278 batting average over the last 30 days.  This race will come down to Cabrera and Jeter.  Jeter’s ability to put the ball in play more consistently, and the fact that he will be seeing much better pitches should give him a slight advantage.  
It has been a long time coming for the man that has seemingly accomplished everything a ball player could dream of.  However, Jeter has yet to capture that elusive batting title.  The odds are stacked against him as he battles one of the best players in Major League baseball but one can't help but wonder, will this be his year?
Tags: Baseball, Derek Jeter, MLB, New York, New York Yankees

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