Previously I posted about the iconic career of Cal Ripken, Jr. Yesterday, another icon passed Ripken on the all-time hits list. Derek Jeter notched hit 3,185 in the Yankees 14-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
You may ask why is this important on the grand scale of baseball history? The answer is simple: we are watching, live, the career of a living legend. Baseball stories revolve around players. All fans have stories about their favorite players, legends in their own time. Mays, Gehrig, Mantle, Ripken himself. Regardless of whether you love or “hate” the Yankees, Jeter is a rare staple of the game. He reached 3,000 hits on a home run. This, after most, including myself, questioned whether he had anything left to give.
The lesson learned is don’t count out an icon. Jeter will leave the game when he is ready. The talk around Jeter changes with the seasons. Now Jeter’s name is mentioned in the same sentence as Pete Rose. Jeter would need an average of 214 hits a season for the next five years to reach 4,256 career hits. Jeter, at 38, may not have the gas needed to continue playing, and hitting until age 43. Is it possible? Anything is possible.
Let’s not crown Jeter just yet. Instead, let’s enjoy his career one day at a time. In case you missed it, here’s a brief run down of Jeter’s career to date:
Gold Glove 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2010 (shortstop)
5 World Series Championships
The Best Shortstop In Cooperstown
Jeter will be a first ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame. However, will he be the best shortstop to enter the hallowed ground of Cooperstown? Honus Wagner, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken, John Ward, and several others may object. Intentionally missing from this brief list is a popular HOF member: Phil Rizzuto. My opinion on Rizzuto changed after reading a piece by Bill Miller, author of The On Deck Circle. You can find the current list of Hall of Fame shortstops here.
Statistically Jeter is compiling a compelling argument for best shortstop all-time. Some may contend he played for a perennial winning team. Should championships be considered? Should lack of winning an MVP be considered? What about offensive WAR? OPS+? etc.
The debate over who is the best shortstop, all-time will never be settled. One thing is sure, we are all witness to a legendary career right before our eyes. So sit back, and enjoy. Careers such as this are rare.
All data from retrosheet.org, baseballhall.org, and baseball-reference.com