NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Yankees skipper Joe Girardi has witnessed plenty in his career as a player, coach and manager.

But he’s never seen anything quite like Derek Jeter’s resurgent 2012 season.

“Remarkable,” Girardi said Wednesday after New York clinched the AL East. “I think exceeding everyone’s expectations, his leadership, his ability to play hurt. A guy (at) 38 is not supposed to get 700 plate appearances. It is not supposed to happen, except for maybe a DH.”

Jeter matched a career high, playing in 159 games, and led the majors in at-bats and plate appearances. He ended with 216 hits, 11 more than Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

“He played shortstop every day and he played hurt,” said Girardi. “It is truly remarkable. For me, it is one of the greatest seasons I have ever seen, considering all the factors.”

There were plenty of questions about Jeter in recent years: Was he on a permanent decline? Should the Yankees move him to the outfield?

He answered with a resounding no and certainly not yet. The shortstop ended the season with a .316 batting average and played well on the infield despite a lingering left ankle injury.

“The fact that he was able to get so many at-bats and stay out there every day exceeded my expectations,” said Girardi. “I talked about I wanted to get him days off and DH him sometimes. But I had to play him more in the field than I probably wanted to because of some of the things we were going through. That’s where he exceeded my expectations.”

Now, as Jeter said Wednesday night, “the real season starts.” As in the postseason, where Jeter boasts a career .307 average and 191 hits over an astounding 152 games.

But to the five-time World Series champion, all that matters is trophy No. 6.

“This is what you play for,” said Jeter. “You play for a chance to get to the playoffs, win the division, and now we have to start all over again.”

Where does Jeter’s season rank for you? Be heard in the comments below!


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