Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Paul Molitor, and Barry Did It, Why Not Derek Jeter?

Harold FriendChief Writer IFebruary 15, 2011

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Derek Jeter will be voted into the Hall of Fame five years after he retires. He has had a fabulous career, is one of the greatest of all clutch hitters, and, at the age of 36, has a lot of great games ahead of him.

What must be acknowledged is that Jeter was not an ordinary player. He is one of the all-time greats, and to write him off because he had the worst season of his career is a big mistake.

Great players and not-so-great players have had great seasons after they reached 36 years of age. There is an excellent chance that Jeter will become part of that group.

Jim Eisenreich was never a great player, but from the ages of 36 to 38, he batted .320, averaged 15 home runs a season with a .441 slugging average and a .379 on base average.

Now let's take a great player who is the Hall of Fame. From the age of 36, until he retired at the age of 41, Molitor hit .313 with a .374 on base average and a .457 slugging average. He averaged about 12 home runs and 86 RBIs a season.

The difference between Jeter and Molitor is that the latter was primarily a DH those years, while Jeter still plays shortstop. Not playing defense probably helped Molitor.

Third baseman Wade Boggs was a better hitter than Jeter who is in the Hall of Fame. From the ages of 36-39, during the 1993-97 seasons, Boggs was the New York Yankees' third baseman. He batted .313, had an on base average of .396, and slugged 407. Boggs finished his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, batting .301 in his final season.

Now we get to the greatest of the great. After the age of 36, Eddie Collins hit .347, Ty Cobb batted .346, Ted Williams hit .336, Tris Speaker hit .332, and Barry hit .325.

It is recognized that Collins, Cobb, and Speaker played a long time ago, when conditions were quite different from today, but all were great athletes who could adjust to modern conditions.

Williams was a great hitter who could have hit in any era. At the age of 40, he had a season that makes Jeter's 2010 year seem almost great. Williams hit .254 with an anemic home run total of 10.

Unlike the great DiMaggio, who retired when he batted only .263 with 12 home runs when he was 36, Williams had to play one more year to prove that he was still Ted Williams, The greatest hitter in the last 65 years batted .316 with 29 home runs in only 390 official at-bats.

There is no need to discuss Barry's achievements from the age of 36 until he retired.

Finally, Luke Appling, a shortstop like Jeter, had some great seasons from the ages of 36-42. He batted .313 with a .412 on base average during that period in his career.

It must be recognized that because many players 36 and older maintained their skills doesn't mean that Derek Jeter will join that group.

But Jeter plays in an era when knowledge of training methods, diet, nutrition and medical knowledge is far superior to that of previous eras.

Derek Jeter's next three seasons and the fan's reactions to them should be fascinating.


Baseball Reference