Derek Jeter continues to break career records, and at this age, it’s no surprise. Earlier in the season. he eclipsed Lou Gehrig’s doubles record of 534, and most recently he passed Carl Yastrzemski for seventh on the all-time hits list. The hit was a quintessential Jeter base hit through the right side gap on a well executed hit-and-run. With this latest accomplishment, fans have to wonder how high he will move up on the hit list.
Jeter is currently only 10 hits behind fellow shortstop Honus Wagner, who ranks sixth all time with 3,430 career hits. But the thought is prevalent amongst fans: how much more the 40-year-old shortstop could accomplish if he didn’t retire at the end of this season.
Jeter will pass Wagner in the immediate future, and he will likely also pass Cap Anson shortly after that, who, by some accounts, has 3,435 hits, while others have him listed at 3,011 hits. But despite the controversy, the Yankee legend will realistically finish either fifth or sixth all time. Although it will be close, he does have the potential to finish fifth all time by passing Tris Speaker, who has an outstanding 3,514 career hits.
Regardless, Jeter will go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time, but it's enticing for fans to think about him finishing within the top three.
If Jeter were to play another two years, let’s say, then he would certainly achieve that, or at least come close. And it seems like he could continue on, at least physically, if he wanted to.
Jeter looks healthy after a season plagued with injuries. He is ranked fifth in the league for average from a shortstop with a .278 clip. Albeit, his average is down from what he has hit for his career, which is .311, but his current average is pretty impressive when you take all things into consideration.
At the moment, the Yankee captain has 104 hits on the season and could conceivably pick up around 180 to 185 total by the end of the year. In 2010, he had a similar year when he batted .270 and collected 179 hits total for the season. Most critics thought that season would be the demise of Jeter, but he proved them wrong with a bounce-back year in 2011 with a .297 batting average, then again in 2012 when he hit .316 and led the league in hits with 216.
Even in this subpar year by Jeter’s standards, he has proven he can still play. Pete Rose said a couple of years ago that Jeter wouldn’t be able to break his all-time hits record of 4,256. According to ESPN New York in 2012, Rose had this to say:
I don't think he can get 200 more hits at 41, but let's say he does. OK, now he's 42. He's gonna get 200 more hits then? At 42? Let me tell you, I've been there; the body locks up. Jeter's a great hitter ... but he's gonna get 200 hits when he's 42? I don't think he will. And even if he does all that, he's still 150 hits short.
We won’t get to find out what would happen with Jeter at 41, or 42, but it does make us think about Rose’s hypothetical. If Jeter were to play an extra two years, he might not catch Rose or Ty Cobb, but surely he’d pass (if he were able to stay healthy) Stan “The Man” Musial and possibly the great Hank Aaron, who have 3,630 and 3,771 hits, respectively.
If he were able to accomplish that feat, that would mean he’d rank third all time in hits, but it would just be icing on the cake in what has been a marvelous career. And for Jeter, he's never been one to fret over individual stats, but rather his focus has always been on team accomplishments.
His All-Star Game performance showed shades of his youth, when he made a diving stab to almost rob Andrew McCutchen of a base hit, followed up by his leadoff double in the bottom of the inning. And if his All-Star Game performance was indicative of anything, it’s that the man can still play.
However, it’s understandable that Jeter wants to hang it up now, when he’s still on top. Yes, he may be fading a bit, but he’s still one of the better players in the game. Some players overstay their welcome, and in turn, they don’t get to retire in the fashion they want and with the team they began with.
For Jeter, who has lived a near-flawless legacy, now is the right time. But for fans, the thought of him staying longer seems tempting, knowing that he can accomplish even more than he already has.
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