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Derek Jeter Begins Assault on Hitting Milestones

NEW YORK - AUGUST 10:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees hits a home run in the first inning during the game on August 10, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx Borough of New York City. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Andrew ZercieCorrespondent IAugust 16, 2009

Derek Jeter’s inevitable march to Cooperstown began in 2005, when Jeter completed his 10th major league season. Since then, it has only intensified as he approaches some of the no-brainer plateaus that make his eventual election to the Baseball Hall of Fame a fait accompli

The latest testament to his brilliant career will come any day now. Derek Jeter will be the owner of the record for most hits as a shortstop.

First reported in the LoHud Yankees Blog, the current record of 2,673 is held by Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. Heading into play on Saturday night, Jeter is three hits shy of tying the record.

While the record for most hits as a shortstop is rather obscure, it remains an impressive feat. Jeter’s longevity and production at the shortstop position will lead him to the Baseball Hall of Fame after his retires.

Only 35-years-old, this milestone will be the first of many for Jeter. Barring injury, or a complete collapse in performance, Jeter will clear the 3,000 hit mark sometime in 2011 at age 37.

From there, the sky is the limit. He’d need just 3,316 hits to have one of the top-10 hit totals in baseball history. If he chooses, Jeter could reasonably finish in the top five in hits, needing 3,515 hits to surpass Tris Speaker for fifth.

Some believe that Jeter could pursue Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits, the all-time record. In order for that to happen, Jeter would have to play into his early 40s. At that point, he’d need a position change, and he’d need to continue to hit for a high average, get on base, and score runs, since he’s not a big power hitter.

Either that, or Jeter would have to become something he’s not: a self-serving player, like Rose was late in his career. In order to break Ty Cobb’s career hits record, Rose played himself over other more deserving players when he was player-manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

A change in personality from a team-oriented player to a selfish one seems unlikely and, because of that, any pursuit of Rose’s mark seems far-fetched. Still, a top five finish is not out of the question at this point, placing Jeter among the game’s immortals.

Not that Jeter needs a gaudy number of hits to be considered one of the game’s best. Between his four World Series titles, his three Gold Gloves, and his near-miss MVP seasons of 1999 and 2006, Derek Jeter’s accomplishments rival those of the elite players who manned the position before him.

The record for most hits as a shortstop will be Jeter’s soon. In the years to come though, it may prove to be the first of many for the Yankee Captain.

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