Jeter is 11-for-37 (.297 average) this postseason, trailing only the surging Rodriguez (.438) and center fielder Melky Cabrera (.314) among Yankees hitters. The shortstop has reached base 20 times in 46 plate appearances, fueling the most powerful offense in the league. And he’ll need to continue that success for the pinstripes to prevail against the Phillies.
Over the course of his historic career, Jeter is a .308/.381/.477 hitter in the playoffs. He has 20 October homers on his résumé, 54 RBIs, and 60 walks in 609 trips to the batter’s box. The Yankees’ 35-year-old captain was a vital component of New York’s last four world championship teams, and no Yankee is happier or more relieved to be back in the World Series.
According to The New York Times, the pinstripes’ six-year absence from the Fall Classic has taken such a toll on Jeter that he has not been able to watch a World Series game since falling to the Florida Marlins in 2003.
“Man, I don’t want to watch,” Jeter told The Times. “I’ve said it before, you feel like you’re a little kid and your parents won’t let you go outside and play. So I don’t want to look out the window and watch everybody play.”
Jeter, of course, is no little kid at this point in his career. He has 10 All-Star game appearances, three Gold Gloves, a Rookie of the Year honor from 1996 and the aforementioned four World Series rings. He also was the MVP of the 2000 World Series, the Yankees’ most recent championship.
But the Yankees’ title drought — the second-longest in franchise history after the 1978-1996 void — has been hard on Jeter.
And that’s why this season’s appearance is especially meaningful to the captain.
“You never take for granted that you’re just going to play a season and end up in the World Series,” Jeter told MLB.com. “It’s very, very difficult. We were spoiled early on, but man, this organization’s been pretty successful throughout the years.”
The Yankees have been successful 26 times, to be precise, and Jeter’s ultimate goal is to make it 27 when the 27th out of the deciding game is recorded.
Jeter will be the first Yankee to step into the batter’s box in Game 1 against Phillies ace Cliff Lee. The captain is 11-for-27 (.407 average) lifetime against the 2008 AL Cy Young winner, with a stellar .985 OPS. He will be determined to start things off on the right foot, to catalyze the offense as he did throughout the regular season, and to get his team on its way to its first world championship in nine years.
A-Rod and CC Sabathia may steal the spotlight, but the Yankees are Derek Jeter’s team. And this is his time to shine.
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