New York Yankees: Can Derek Jeter Win the Batting Title in 2012?

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IAugust 26, 2012

With over a month left in the 2012 regular season, the New York Yankees will be fighting to not only win the American League East, but to have home field throughout the playoffs.

However, some players could be battling for individual records, like the home run or RBI title.

One particular Yankee will likely be competing for the batting title as the 2012 season winds down: Derek Jeter.

As of Sunday, Jeter is hitting .323 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI and currently is third amongst the American League leaders for batting average.

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers are the only hitters who currently have a better average than Jeter.

Since the month of August, Jeter has been red-hot for the Yankees, hitting .368 (39-for-106), while picking his average up from .312, which is what he was batting entering August 1, to .323, which is his average heading into Monday's game.

The closest Jeter has come to winning a batting title was on two separate occasions; back in 1999, he finished second to Nomar Garciaparra (Jeter hit .349, Garciaparra hit .357), and in 2006 he again finished second to Joe Mauer (Jeter hit .343, Mauer hit .347.)

The biggest difference between those seasons and now is that Jeter was 25 years old in 1999 and 32 years old in 2006—years that Jeter was in the prime stages of his career.

In 2012, he's now 38 years old and many people consider Jeter to be past his prime, although he's been playing far from it.

Forget that his defensive skills have diminished with age; Jeter is still one of the best leadoff hitters in the game today, and his results have shown it.

The one thing that Jeter does lead over both Cabrera and Trout is total number of hits.

Trout, the AL leader in batting average at .337, has 145 hits. Cabrera, who is in second, has 159 hits.

Jeter, who is in third with the .323 average, leads the American League with 173 hits and is on pace for a 200-hit season.

What is going to make this a very interesting race until the end is that all three players are involved in a pennant or playoff race in September.

While we already know Jeter's Yankees are in first place in the AL East, Trout's Angels have really fallen off since July 31, but they are still in the mix for the Wild Card. Cabrera's Tigers are chasing the White Sox for the AL Central title and are also in the mix for the Wild Card.

Jeter has never been a player who put personal accomplishments over the team's goals and winning first, but that doesn't stop Jeter from striving to be a better player.

Ever since he hit his 3,000th hit back on July 9, 2011, Jeter has looked like a different hitter at the plate.

Before the 2011 season when Jeter hit just .270, a lot of people thought he was slowing down and may have been finished as a top hitter.

But ever since he got that milestone hit, Jeter looks like the hitter that was ripping the baseball in his prime from his leadoff position in the lineup.

Ultimately, Jeter wants to excel in the playoffs, which he has made a career of doing well in; he is a .307 career hitter in the postseason, .321 career hitter in the World Series.

What will make Jeter a dangerous hitter and a serious contender for the batting title is his desire to get the Yankees to October and a chance for the team's 28th World Series.

Can Jeter, at age 38, beat out two players currently in their prime and win the batting title?

With the season he's having, I think he has a great chance to beat Trout and Cabrera for it.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.