There has been much talk about the declining skills of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter over the past season plus—last year hitting .270, a full 43 points below his career average of .313, and his .257 average this year with just nine extra base hits. Jeter is chasing the magical 3,000 hit mark, and will likely reach that mark before the All-Star break, with just 21 hits needed. However, is Jeter playing out the string? Have has skills diminished to the point that he is no longer useful to his beloved Yankees?
The history is MLB is literally littered (pardon the pun) with players who believed they could still make valuable contributions to their teams, in spite of their bodies and deteriorating skills telling them otherwise.
The image of an overweight Babe Ruth struggling through his last season with the Boston Braves is a telling example. Ruth, long stripped of his prodigious home run mastery, was clearly overmatched when he stepped onto the baseball fields in that last season in 1935.
It’s difficult for ballplayers to look inside themselves and determine that they just can’t cut it any longer. The lure of big contracts, fame, and their love of competition often gets in the way of making an informed decision regarding the end of their careers.
On May 29, 1989, the great third baseman Mike Schmidt acknowledged that decision when he decided, saying "I could ask the Phillies to keep me on to add to my statistics, but my love for the game won't let me do that." Schmidt, hitting .203 at that point, obviously realized he couldn’t contribute at a high level any longer.
In any event, there are a number of players who hung around in baseball far longer than they should have. Many of those players had already cemented their status in baseball’s Hall of Fame, but continued on in vein.
Here then is a list of 30 players who should have ended their careers in Major League Baseball far earlier than they did.
Source: Baseball Almanac
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.