Ripken, Jeter, Tulowitzki? Is It Time to Crown a New "Ironman" Shortstop?

Michael Messier@@Messier85Contributor IFebruary 24, 2012

29 Sep 2001: Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles shakes hands with Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees before  the game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw/Allsport
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Derek Jeter is often viewed as a modern day Cal Ripken Jr. due to his hustle mentality, membership in the 3000 hit club and knack for hitting in the clutch.

However, one thing is for sure, Jeter is entering the twilight of his career—a season in which he may see increased time at DH. As the 2012 season looms, it may be natural for us to ask:  If Jeter was the new Ripken, who will be the new Jeter?

Jose Reyes looked like a possibility in 2006 after posting a .300 AVG, 19HRs and 81 RBIs, but hasn’t established those five-tool numbers since.

Hanley? Hanley Ramirez is not only moving to the hot corner, but also seeing drops in homeruns, batting average and most important in any Ripken/Jeter comparison—games played.

Enter Troy Tulowitzki…

Most people know that Tulowitzki wears number “2” for Jeter, his childhood hero. Most people, however, don’t know what he’s accomplished so far.

In four full seasons (excluding his 2008 season plagued by hand and thigh injuries), Tulowitzki has averaged a line of: .301 AVG, 28 HRs, 98 RBIs and a stat I feel is most telling of a true hitter: an OPS of .908. Of course, it’s a small sample size; however, at the same point of his career, Jeter posted an .887 OPS.

The one missing link, however, is the elusive World Series win.

In the 2007 Fall Classic against Boston, Tulowitzki was only able to contribute 3 hits and 1 RBI in 4 games. As the young talent the Rockies have acquired (via trade and draft) begin to wise and fulfill their potential, the chances of Tulowitzki sliding on a ring within the next few years seems more realistic.

Thus, allowing for a proper pass of the torch from Mr. November.