Is Derek Jeter worth adding right away? 

July, 11, 2013

The New York Yankees will welcome back future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter to their lineup Thursday afternoon, and not a moment too soon. No offense to Jayson Nix and pals, but Yankees shortstops weren’t helping the team much offensively, featuring a lowly .211 batting average with a .269 on-base percentage. While statistical expectations for Jeter should be held in check in relation to the 216 hits he produced in 2012, the fact is the reason I recommend him for ESPN standard 10- and 12-team mixed leagues is similar to why the Yankees are so desperate for him: The position is seriously lacking quality alternatives in fantasy as well.

Derek Jeter
Rich Pilling/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesDerek Jeter may need time, but he should provide a needed option in the thin middle infield.

For example, looking at the current ESPN Player Rater there are 12 shortstops worthy of mass ownership, but the Nos. 13, 14 and 15 options for the season are Brian Dozier, Alcides Escobar and Andrelton Simmons. Entering Thursday, those guys are hitting .233, .244 and .245 respectively, with varying levels of power and stolen base prowess, but let’s just say none of them are hitting homers like J.J. Hardy or running like Everth Cabrera. I don’t expect Jeter to hit more than say five home runs this season or, coming off serious ankle woes, to steal more than five bases, but can he hit close to .300 and provide runs scored? Last season, he hit .316 with 15 homers and nine steals. And since it might be some stretch to call Jeter a starting fantasy shortstop (top 10), he’d go into your middle infield slot, where the second base depth is only marginally better. Dozier is the No. 15 second baseman. I’d prefer Jeter to the young Minnesota Twin.