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Ranking Derek Jeter's 10 Greatest Subway Series Moments

Joe GiglioContributor IJanuary 15, 2017

Ranking Derek Jeter's 10 Greatest Subway Series Moments

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Barring unexpected and improbable runs to the World Series by both the New York Yankees and New York Mets, Derek Jeter has played his last game against the crosstown rivals. After 93 games—including five during the 2000 World Series—against New York's National League team, Jeter's Queens farewell is in the books.

    When the Subway Series began in the summer of 1997, it mirrored the rise of Jeter. Both were young, new and exciting. All these years later, both still have the ability to push the needle in New York, generate a buzz and drive excitement during interleague play.

    With more than a half season worth of games against an in-town rival, many moments in a special career stick out. Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine shared his most vivid memories of facing Jeter during an event on May 15 at the MLB Fan Cave. 

    "Not many favorites stick out when it comes to Derek because he seemed to always come up big against me," Valentine said. "The World Series in 2000a great relay throw, hit up the middle, big home run. In 1997, he had one of the first hits of the Subway Series. There's too many to count."

    After listening to Valentine reminisce about an old rival, Bleacher Report felt it would be right to rank those uncountable moments. 

    Statistics are from Baseball-Reference.comESPN and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts. Roster breakdowns via MLBDepthCharts.com. Valentine quote obtained first hand. 



     

10. Opening Act

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    With so many moments to choose from, a rare Yankees Subway Series loss and high-profile out from Jeter start the countdown.

    Instead of highlighting Jeter's strikeout to end this 1997 game or a complete-game victory from journeyman starter Dave Mlicki, this memory serves as a reminder to when the Subway Series was brand new and the idea of interleague play bothered old-school baseball fans. 

    With the 18th season of yearly Subway Series tilts in the book, it's instructive to remember and reminisce about a time when the concept was new, bragging rights were on the line and Yankee Stadium alternated between chants of "Let's go Yankees!" and "Let's go Mets!" during the weekend series. 

9. Mets Pay Tribute to an All-Time Yankees Great

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    From the inaugural moment to the hours before the final Subway Series game of Jeter's career.

    Prior to the start of play on Thursday night, the Mets presented Jeter with gifts—a No. 2 mosaic designed using subway tiles and a $22,222.22 donation to Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation charityper Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. 

    The only off-the-field moment of this countdown occurred in a conference room at Citi Field, but served as a reminder of the respect and adoration the crosstown rivals have always had for the most valuable Yankees player over the last two decades. 

    Despite an eye-opening regular season slash line of .368/.423/.542 against the Mets (entering play on May 15), the Mets couldn't help but shower praise on a long-time on-field adversary.

8. Jeter's 400th Career Double

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Derek Jeter's career statistics—3,349 hits, 1,885 runs, five World Series rings, five Gold Glove awards—are often cited by fans and media members when describing his transcendent career. While those numbers are telling, they fail to single out an underrated area of Jeter's offensive game.

    For some reason, the Yankees shortstop isn't properly recognized for his standing as a doubles-hitting machine. During Jeter's 20-year career, the future Cooperstown-bound star has racked up 529 two-base hits, good for 33rd in the history of the game.

    On June 27, 2008, Jeter reached a milestone on the path to his place in history—double No. 400—against New York Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey.

7. Back-to-Back Home Runs off Steve Trachsel

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    When Jeter broke into the majors in 1996, a power-hitting era was in its infancy and about to take over the game of baseball. Despite playing in the Steroid Era, against expansion pitching and in a wave of new, offense-friendly ballparks, Jeter wasn't a power hitter. Across two decades, the Yankees shortstop averaged 16 home runs per 162 games played.  

    On June 27, 2004 he certainly looked like one when taking Mets starter Steve Trachsel deep in back-to-back at-bats during a Subway Series game. With those two blasts, Jeter ended his career against Trachsel with three home runs, making him one of the biggest victims over the course of Jeter's career. In fact, only four pitchers—Sidney Ponson, Bruce Chen, Rodrigo Lopez and David Wells—surrendered more to Jeter.

6. Jeter Ties Game off Armando Benitez

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Over the course of their respective careers, New York baseball fans probably couldn't come up with two more polar opposite players than Derek Jeter and former Mets closer (and brief Yankees reliever) Armando Benitez. 

    Jeter was clutch. Benitez was a choker. Jeter was beloved. Benitez was reviled. If there was a positive adjective, it was associated with Jeter. If there was a negative reaction, word or gesture, it was shown towards Benitez.

    On June 14, 2002, the narratives held true when Jeter tied a 2-1 game in the ninth inning with a single off of Benitez. According to Baseball-Reference, the hit added a wWPA (winning team win probability added) of 32 percent to the Yankees chance of winning the game and fed into the notion of Jeter's big-game ability and Benitez's unreliability. 

5. Jeter Tallies Three Hits in Finale Subway Series Opener

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    With his 40th birthday nearing, Jeter isn't close to the type of player he once was. Heading into his final Subway Series game, the Yankees shortstop owned a slash line of .262/.340/.317. Among qualified hitters, Jeter's slugging percentage was the 19th worst mark in baseball. 

    Despite that distinction, the Subway Series legend opened up the 2014 series like so many Yankees-Mets games of the past—with a multiple-hit game. In fact, Jeter's three-hit night reminded New York baseball fans of the hitter Jeter was en route to racking up over 3,000 hits. 

    Although his team lost the game, Jeter shined as an individual offensive player for the first time in a long time. 

4. Jeter Hits Clean Up for First and Only Time

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    Bryan Yablonsky/Getty Images

    In New York, everything has a tendency to become over hyped and overrated—even Derek Jeter. While Jeter was never the equal to Alex Rodriguez or as prolific of an offensive player as a young Nomar Garciaparra, there is one aspect of his game that's actually underrated: the entire 1999 season. 

    During Jeter's fourth big league season, he emerged into a special offensive player, posting a .349/.438/.552 slash line with a career-high 24 homers and sole 100-plus RBI season of his two-decade career. 
    Even when adjusting for a gigantic run-scoring environment, Jeter's OPS+ of 153 stands out in the history of the shortstop position, per Baseball-Reference (subscription required).

    On July 10 of that season—during the annual Subway SeriesJeter was rewarded for the hitter he became. For the first—and only—time in his career, Jeter hit in the No. 4 hole in New York's lineup.

    Despite an 0-for-4 effort, fans in attendance had the chance to watch a special season rewarded with Jeter's name in the clean-up spot in Joe Torre's order.  

     

3. 2000 World Series Game 1: Jeter's Relay Saves a Run

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    The final moments of this countdown took on greater importance than any annual regular season battle for New York bragging rights. When the 2000 World Series commenced, a true Subway Series captivated New York and the entire sport for the first time since the 1956 season. 

    From the opening game, the battle didn't disappoint. With the upstart Mets threatening to knock the Yankees from their perch as back-to-back World Series champions, Jeter's talent and big-game acumen took over.

    In Game 1, Mets outfielder Timo Perez attempted to score on a ball that hit off the top of the wall in the left field corner. By the time the relay throw reached Derek Jeter, his body was falling toward the stands, but somehow managed to fire an on-target throw to Jorge Posada to take away a crucial run. 

2. 2000 World Series Game 5: Jeter's HR Ties the Clincher

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    If Jeter hadn't already sealed up World Series MVP honors before the start of Game 5, this solo blast put the finishing touches on the biggest individual award ever given to a player known more for team accomplishments.

    This home run off Al Leiter symbolized the entire series for Jeter and the Mets: Every time the NL champs gathered some momentum—including staking Leiter to a 2-1 lead in an elimination game—Jeter found a way to rip the momentum and series from them.

    When the ball cleared the wall, it was just a matter of time before the Yankees celebrated their fourth World Series in five seasons.  

1. 2000 World Series Game 4: Jeter Steals Momentum from the Mets

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    An argument could be made that this moment should rank below the No. 2 video on this list.

    Yet, here's why Jeter's lead off home run in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series is at the top of this list: When the day began, the Mets owned the momentum and city. One more win could even the series, send Queens into a tizzy and potentially knock the dynastic Yankees down. 

    After Bobby Jones threw the opening pitch of Game 4, all that talk ended. Within seconds, all of the energy and excitement was zapped from Shea Stadium. With one swing, Jeter restored order in the World Series and put the favorite back in the drivers seat after a Game 3 loss.

    With nearly 100 Subway Series games in the books for Jeter, it's that swing off of Bobby Jones that will live in infamy. 


    Agree? Disagree?

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