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Topping the list is a hitter who leads all active hitters in hits. He is THE Yankee shortstop. He is Derek Jeter.
In a period directly following the Steroids Era, when the purity and integrity of the game have mattered most, Jeter has been a model citizen for the MLB, avoiding any type of major public controversy in his 17-year career. He's a personable guy and leads by example on the field.
A lifetime .312 hitter, Jeter will was the first Yankee to eclipse 3,000 hits when he went 5-5 against the Cleveland Indians the weekend leading up to the All-Star game. Being only the second man to ever hit a home run for his 3,000th hit (Wade Boggs), Jeter stands as a pillar for the game.
It's tough to believe he's the first Yankee to reach this career milestone considering the infinite list of great Yankee hitters there are. This is a list that includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. Unbelievable.
Never a league MVP or league-leader in home runs, Jeter’s offensive prowess has consisted of hitting line drives gap-to-gap. Once in a while he’ll hit one over the fence, but I would bet it was a line drive to right field that just got out.
In today’s game of baseball where getting on base is valued very highly, Jeter has etched himself into history as one of the great table-setters to ever play. Jeter has performed at the highest level when it has mattered the most.
In 147 postseason games played, the most in baseball history, Jeter holds the MLB record for hits (185) and runs scored (101). Regular season success is one thing, but to play well in the playoffs and to do it year in, year out, the way Jeter has, it’s beyond comprehension.
The numbers speak for themselves. But what they don’t mention is how instrumental of a leader he has been for the Yankees organization. He takes care of business on the field and takes responsibility when they don’t get the job done. You won’t find a more humble player either, which scores major points with me. That’s why Derek Jeter is pound-for-pound the Best Hitter Over 35 in my book.
Honorable Mention: Todd Helton, David Ortiz, Paul Konerko, and Lance Berkman