Derek Jeter Is Partying Like It's 1999

Jeter's four hits cool off the Rangers in Texas

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Ponce de Leon has nothing on Jeter.

    After Derek Jeter had four hits on Monday night to lead the Yankees past the AL-leading Rangers 7-4 in Arlington, Alex Rodriguez commented on his teammate's outlandish start.

    "It's like 1999 again," Rodriguez said. "Three hits every day. You even see it in batting practice. The ball is just jumping off his bat."

    Jeter's 4-for-5 Monday night leaves him with numbers that would have had people reaching for a thesaurus to come up with words to describe the quality of his play back then as well. It's now a 13-game hitting streak for Jeter and he's already got two four-hit games on the year.

    He's now hitting .411 with a .436 on-base percentage and a .644 slugging percentage on the season, numbers that  are right in line with the ones that Jeter churned out in that 1999 season that should have ended with an MVP award. OK, they're actually slightly below Jeter's numbers in the first month of that season, but we'll give him a break since it has been 13 years since he put up a 1217 OPS in April 1999.

    We're trying not to go too overboard with a narrative, although it is difficult because it has become nearly impossible to talk about Jeter without slipping into sweeping statements about what it all means. The first half of last season was a sea of premature obituaries and then the second half was about how Jeter calmed down following his 3,000th hit.

    For his part, Jeter said that it was the correction of a mechanical flaw in his swing and not deeper metaphysical matters that led to his turnaround. That's almost certainly true and what's going on right now is just a little bit more of the same from a player who has just hit a streak, but nothing about Jeter can ever be that easy.

    He's as much a symbol as a player at this point, so a hot month -- even a month as hot as this -- has to be something more in the ongoing discussion of Jeter's place among the game's immortals. That's rarely fair to him, but, again, he's not exactly treated like any other player at this point in time.

    This current run needs no extra emphasis to make it more impressive, but at least it is good enough to make it seem less ridiculous to talk about Jeter in the hushed tones he generates when things are going well. He's truly great right now and it's pretty fantastic to see that he still has this kind of game left in him.

    So don't worry about how long it can last and just enjoy the ride. The Yankees certainly are.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.