While much fanfare was made of Derek Jeter achieving the all time hit leader of the New York Yankee’s, nary a word went out over the fact he was rapidly approaching entry onto the list of the top twenty hitters of all time in the American League. Nor, was anything said about Jeter’s entry into the top fifty major league hitters of all time. Since starting the 2010 season, Jeter has continued his climb with his usual 300 batting average, quietly passing American Leaguer’s Goose Goslin, fellow shortstop and 30’s superstar, Luke Appling as well as well as the more widely known Rapheal Palmiero. Jeter is now 16th on the all-time hit list of American League hitters. Up next is Al Simmons who began his career in the Roaring 20’s with the Philadelphia Athletics.
While Jeter’s record breaking hit last year didn’t quite get him to the list of the top 50 hit leaders the entire Major Leagues, Jeter now stands at number 47, just six hits behind the only active player in front of him – Ken Griffey Jr. Jeter is 8 hits shy of entering the top 45, as he and the injury prone Griffey chase The Hawk, Andre Dawson.
Baseball is forever a game of speculation. We forever look to the future in our quest for the pot of gold. We plan, execute and play until the last pitch of the last inning finally lays the game to rest. The sun is hardly setting over Derek Jeter and as such, it’s beginning to look a lot like DJ will eclipse Pete Rose as the all time hit leader of Major League Baseball.
In each of Jeter’s fifteen years in the majors, the new Pride of the Yankee’s has averaged no less than 184 hits per season. Unlike Griffey, Jeter is limber enough to keep a safe distance from the DL. While no longer the youngster with the boyish grin, Jeter’s history of health suggests longevity, in the same vein as players like Pete Rose, Nolan Ryan and the great Carl Yastremski. Even with minor injuries, Jeter has averaged 580 at bats per season. Like many of the exceptional players before him there is no reason to believe Jeter won’t play another ten years thus giving him another 5,860 more at bats before the youngster hangs up his cleats.
Over the course of the next ten years with an average of 186 hits per season, Derek Jeter will retire with 4,606 hits. This gives him 350 hits more than the immortal Pete Rose leaving as many as two seasons worth of room for error. While Jeter’s days as a shortstop may be dwindling, his years as a Yankee are not. The Yankee organization is already talking about Derek the outfielder, which should provide for many more years of Derek-the-hitter. Only Ty Cobb and Pete Rose have ever achieved the 4,000-plus hit mark. Cobb, born in 1886, retired at the age of 42. Pete Rose, born in 1941, made his last plate appearance at the age of 45. Jeter was born in April of 1974. He is 36 years old. In the last six years of his career, Cobb added 925 hits playing for the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics. Pete Rose from the age of 36 on added 1,494 hits playing for the Reds, the Phillies and the Montreal Expos. Is there a Rose in Jeter’s future? Even the fans at Fenway are toning down their Yankee hatred for the classiest guy in the game.