Derek Jeter's Ankle Injury Could Mean the End is Near

The NY Daily News reported on Thursday that Derek Jeter, Yankee Captain, is on schedule to return from his broken ankle, suffered in game 1 of the ALCS, in time for the 2013 opener.  And I am here to tell you that by any significant measure, his career as Yankee shortstop is all but over.

Oh he may play on opening day, and he may get to take his 7:15 curtsy in response to the bleachers’ roll call of the Yankees starting defense a few more times, but history tells us that the days of him as everyday shortstop seem doomed.  

A broken ankle is a tough injury to shake off.  Joe Torre, Jeter’s former manager and mentor was able to return from a broken ankle, change positions (catcher to corner infielder), and eventually win an MVP award.  But Joe Torre was in his mid 20’s when he suffered his injury.  Upon his return, Torre quipped that it hadn’t cost him any of speed.  Notoriously slow (Torre holds a record for grounding into four double plays in one game), Torre ended his career with 23 stolen bases, actually stealing a bit more than half of them after the injury.   But what will this injury cost Derek Jeter?  Jeter is 38 and plays the most difficult and demanding position on the field.

Jeter’s remarkable 2012 season rivaled his very best offensively.  However, he did appear as DH a career high 25 times, thus lightening his innings logged at shortstop already.  That trend was due to continue anyway.  But, looking at Jeters’ peers, the Hall of Fame shortstops since WWII, we find almost none that were able to continue to play regularly at shortstop beyond this age.

The last two HOF shortstops who missed expansion were perennial World Series rivals Phil Rizutto and Pee Wee Reese. Rizutto, the ex –Yankee, retired at age 38, but had spent his final two seasons playing a total of about half a season at shortstop.  Reese left the game at age 39, and his 2 final seasons, spent part time at third base for the Dodgers, showed similar playing time to Rizzuto’s last two.

The careers of the Cubs’ Ernie Banks and the White Sox/ Orioles’ Luis Aparicio each bridged the expansion mileposts (1961 and 1962).  Aparicio’s final years differ from most on this list, as he still manned his position full time right through his final days with the Red Sox at age 39, though his offensive production, and most notably his base stealing had dwindled after he turned 35.  As for Mr. Cub, the biggest slugger on the list, Banks had abandoned shortstop for first base a couple of seasons after winning consecutive MVP awards, at age 31.  Still, the easier assignment allowed Ernie to play regularly till age 38 and no more.

Robin Yount split his Brewer career between shortstop and centerfield, leaving the infield at the tender age of 28, having ALREADY played 10 years of big league shortstop.

Ozzie Smith, largely regarded as the best defensive shortstop ever, managed to play until he was 41.  His final three years, however, he appeared in only 96, 41 and 52 games at short.  

Two other men recently reached Cooperstown as shortstops.  Iron Man Cal Ripken of the Orioles may not have missed a game for a few decades there, but still at age 35 his shortstopping days were done….... he moved over to third base for what amounted to five twilight years.
Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds , newly minted as an HOF shortstop, played less than half the schedule at shortstop in 3 of his final 5 years, after the age of 35.

So there is the evidence.  Derek Jeter, who has amazed before, (just ask Jeremy Giambi), will be asked to do so again just to continue his career as everyday shortstop for the New York Yankees.  Add in a broken ankle and father time becomes too tough an opponent even for the seemingly unbeatable Gotham legend.


Posted in , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

Leave a Reply

Sports Injury News LLC. Powered by Blogger.


Swedish Greys - a WordPress theme from Nordic Themepark. Converted by