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Where Does Derek Jeter’s Ascent Up the Hit Chart Take Him?

By Mike Silva ~ April 16th, 2012. Filed under: New York Yankees.

One of the early surprises of the season is the offensive output of Derek Jeter. Going into tonight’s matchup against Minnesota, Jeter is hitting a robust .366 with 2 HRs and 6 RBI. The slow bat that turned him into a below league average hitter the last couple of years has disappeared. I was ready to see him get his 3,000th hit and start the countdown of when his contract will expire. Not only has he returned to form, but he is better than ever. Since the 2011 All-Star Break he’s hit .332. That is vintage Jeter, and the version that helped the Yankees win a World Series in 2009.

Now that questions of age and health have been put aside, how far up the hit ladder can Jeter climb? To date his total is 3,103. Some have speculated that Pete Rose and his 4,256 hits are not out of the question. Jeter has claimed in the past that he would like to play until he’s 43 -years old. If six seasons is all he has left, then it would take 192 hits a year to reach Rose’s magic number. Ironically, that is his per season average coming into this year. Ruling Jeter out would be foolish. I already threw dirt on the grave last year only to see him return to form after the historic 5 for 5 day in which he collected his 3,000th hit. You can bet, provided he stays healthy, that he will jump from #17 on the all-time hit list to #11- passing Cal Ripken- by season’s end.

Can he do it? It’s asking an awful lot for Jeter to stay healthy and hit at an elite level to that age. His lack of power makes it difficult to put him in the DH slot. I don’t think he can play any other position effectively, nor would it be a wise move to teach him this late in his career. Obviously, he could have use as a bench player/veteran mentor, but I don’t see Jeter sticking around for that role. Playing part-time also won’t be conducive to reaching the historic hit milestone, either. There is, however, a caveat to all this. Just look at how Pete Rose ended his career.

At the end of his age 38 season Pete Rose had 3,372 hits. He played seven more seasons, retiring at the age of 45, and averaged 126 hits. He was a player-manager the final few seasons of his career. If Jeter’s body doesn’t allow him to play full time or perform at the elite level necessary to reach Rose, would we see him end his playing career on a similar note? Could we see the Yankees reach out to Jeter and take on the player-manager role? Would he hang on to the age of 45, 46 or later as a backup?

I don’t know how important the hit record is to Derek Jeter. I don’t even know if managing is something he would find attractive or be very good at. I do know that I probably shouldn’t count him out.

I already did that once and got burnt.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to Where Does Derek Jeter’s Ascent Up the Hit Chart Take Him?

  1. Raul

    You’re overreacting to getting burned, though what you consider “getting burned” has amounted to half a season and 2 weeks of April baseball.

    The simple fact that Jeter cannot play SS for much longer, and that he’ll never spend 3 or 4 years hopping from team to team, begging for a job like Rose (and Vizquel, for that matter) makes it impossible for him to approach Rose’s record.

  2. motionblur

    @Raul Jeter is physical specimen who is running faster this year than he was last year. I’m well past the point of assuming what he can’t do.

    He hit .297 last year and has only had one bad year for his whole career.

  3. Tanned Tom

    I’d love to see him go for it. It would be great to see a non-steroid user set one of the all time records. Especially with A-Fraud moving up the HR list. But there’s no way he plays SS for 6 more years, he’ll HAVE to either play another position or accept a part time role. It bears repeating that Rose only reached his mark because he put his ego before what was good for the team. I really can’t see Jeter doing that. But I can see SS/DH for 2-3 more years, then LF/DH is a possiblity for 4 years after that. Unlikely I know, but I’d love to see him do it, even if it means the Yanks have a .280 LF/DH with only 15 HR power. Let’s have another (Rivera) of the good guys hold an important record.

  4. Raul

    Giving Derek Jeter a corner outfield position in his 40s would be stupid and bad for the team.

    Not going to happen. Even if he could hit .280, he’d never hit 15 bombs and he’d offer literally nothing else to justify the roster spot, or the money.

    Let’s not get caught up in whatever little juice a player can muster in his late 30s — whether it be for a season or a few months. It’s a fact of the game that players ultimately decline. Jeter already isn’t a serviceable shortstop and he’ll be 38 in June.

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