With the 2010 season ending for the New York Yankees after Friday night's Game 6 loss to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, the focus has quickly shifted to the off season and what moves the Bombers will make in order to win a 28th World Series championship in 2011.
One of the pressing items on the Yankees' to-do list this winter is to re-sign captain and soon-to-be free agent Derek Jeter.
It has been reported that Jeter may be seeking a seven-year contract that will keep him playing baseball until the age of 43, which may put him in a position to break Pete Rose's all-time hits record.
In a recent article for ESPNNewYork.com, Ian O'Connor wrote:
"In statements he's made in recent years to Yankee executive Gene Michael and to his own personal trainer, Jason Riley, Jeter has indicated he wants to play until he's about 43. He has also indicated a willingness to change positions, if necessary, for his final few seasons."
If Jeter, who turned 36 this past June, really does have aspirations to play until he is 43, then his next contract would have to be for seven years. With 2,926 career hits, it is very likely that he is seeking to break Pete Rose's all-time career hits record of 4,256.
This is a quest that is not impossible as Jeter and Rose have had very similar career numbers up until the age of 36.
From his first full season in 1963 until 1977, between the ages of 22 and 36, Pete Rose amassed 2,966 hits in 2,346 games played, which is an average of 198 hits per year over 156 games played.
From his first full season in 1996 until 2010, between the same ages of 22 and 36, Derek Jeter has amassed 2,914 hits in 2,280 games played which is an average of 194 hits per year over 152 games played (for age and season average comparison purposes, I have left out Jeter's 1995 season in which he gathered 12 hits over 15 games as a 21-year-old).
The biggest challenge for Jeter will be matching Charlie Hustle's performance over the later years in his career.
From 1978-1984, between the ages of 37 and 43 (which will be the comparison to Jeter's next contract), Pete Rose racked up 1,131 hits in 1,025 games played which is an average of 162 hits per year over 146 games played.
It is important to note that Rose did not retire after the 1984 season as he tacked on 107 hits in 1985 as a 44-year-old and 52 hits in 1986 as a 45-year-old for a total of 159 hits after the age of 43.
For Jeter to get the 1,331 more hits needed to break Pete Rose's record over this reportedly desired seven-year contract, he will need to average slightly over 190 hits per year. This is not an easy task considering that Mr. November will be in the twilight of his career where there typically is a steady decline in production and the ever-present concern with injuries.
The seven-year contract may still be beneficial to Jeter, however as he will need to average just over 180 hits per year to pass Ty Cobb for second place on the all-time hits list and average a very conceivable 121 hits per season to pass Hank Aaron for third place, which is certainly nothing to scoff at.
As if the five World Series championships weren't enough, grabbing the third place slot on the all-time hits list will surely cement Derek Jeter's place as one of the greatest hitters in the history of Major League Baseball.
If Jeter is indeed looking for a seven-year deal and he gets it, he will begin his ascent up baseball's all-time hits list. If he does not finish his career at the top of this list, there is a strong possibility that he will be very close to it.
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