Derek Jeter will get old someday, but that day does not appear to be at hand. The soon-to-be 38-year-old New York Yankees shortstop seems to have found the Fountain of Youth.
In case you missed it Monday night, Jeter had four hits in the Yankees' 7-4 victory over the Texas Rangers. He is now hitting .411 on the young season. Yep, .4-freakin'-11! That puts him second in the league behind David Ortiz of Boston, off to an amazing .441 start.
Ahh, this is just a hot start by an aging player who won't be able to sustain it, you say. Well, I have to beg to differ.
Jeter looked like an old man the first half of the 2011 season. He scuffled to keep his batting average above .250 and to keep his place at the top of the New York lineup. He looked like to would limp his way to the 3,000-hit mark. When he went on the disabled list in June he was hitting an adequate, but completely unspectacular .261. He returned in July, had the magical 5-for-5 games against Tampa Bay when he reached and surpassed the 3,000-hit mark, and has never looked back. He hit .331 the rest of the 2011 season, and has picked up this season where he left off in 2011.
More impressive than his batting average, Jeter is driving the ball in a way he never has before. He already has four home runs after hitting just six a season ago. His slugging percentage of .644 and OPS of 1.080 are both roughly 200 points above the career averages for Jeter's Hall of Fame career.
Can he keep this up? Well, he isn't going to hit .411. ESPN, however, points out that this is statistically the best April of Jeter's career, and that during every season in which he has gotten off to a hot start he has been able to maintain it and have a great year.
If you are like me you thought Jeter had the final great offensive season of his career back in 2009, when he hit .334 and bashed 18 home runs.
Right now, Jeter is doing a heckuva job of proving the skeptics who thought he was no longer a great player -- including me -- wrong.