Derek Jeter has reached another milestone in his long and fruitful career as the New York Yankees Short Stop. He passed Paul Molitor to take sole possession of 8th place on the all time hits list in Major League Baseball. Jeter now has 3,320 all time hits and if he can manage to stay healthy and get about 175 more this season then he'll be alone in the 6th spot on this historic list. The Captain is in legendary territory along with Hall of Famers and all time greats like Pete Rose who is and may always be the all time hits leader with 4,256. Ty Cobb is 2nd followed by the great Hank Aaron and then perhaps the most under-appreciated player in history Stan Musial who's statue stands in St. Louis as the Cardinals franchise hero.
Back to Derek now! Jeter enjoyed instant success as both a player, a teammate and ultimately a New York icon. He and the Yankees won 4 World Series championships in 5 years (1996, 1998, 1999, 2,000). They lost the following season in game 7 to the Arizona Diamondbacks and again to another expansion team in the then Florida Marlins in 2003. After that season they wouldn't find themselves back in World Series until 2009 where they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies and once again reclaimed the crown as he filled his hand with a 5th ring for his 5th finger. Derek Jeter was always part of the "core 4" along with Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and the living legend Mariano Rivera. But Derek Jeter was always the guy who stood out the most.
Maybe it's because Rivera didn't close every ball game or Posada wore a catchers mask making him less visible or the fact that Andy Pettitte who like Rivera didn't pitch everyday, only playing every 5 or 6 days. But we know it's more than that. It's the unforgettable dives in the stands to catch a meaningless foul ball just to come out of it broken and bloody, but of course he made the catch. It's the clutch home runs and hits in critical situations, it's coming from nowhere out of your TV screen to flip the ball home to the catcher and make a crucial post season out. He has instincts that go beyond the norm and an unmatched dedication to his team and teammates. No wonder why everyone latched onto him at a young age in the 90's and saw the potential of a player, person and eventual leader of his brethren. Oh by the way the guy has killer stats.
I already mentioned he's currently 8th on the all time hits list with a chance to move all the way to 6th place in that category in 2014. In addition Jeter's lifetime batting average is .312 as he had 12 season in which he hit .300 or better. His best was in 1999 when he hit .349. Yes he was young but he shows consistency as he averaged .343 in 2006, three years later he hit .334 and as recent 2012 Jeter had a 3.16 B.A. Last year he was plagued by injuries as he will turn 40 years old in June, not making it easier to recover from injury without "medicine" which I am certainly not accusing Derek Jeter of using illegal substances. That would crush Yankee fans hearts. I hope he was and is taking some form of medication to rehabilitate his aging body as he still plays perhaps the most athletic and important position on the baseball field.
Forgetting all that nonsense, Jeter is a true all around baseball player. The only thing he lacked was consistent power for the home run ball but he made up for that in many areas like reaching base early and often, turning a walk or hit into a run scored. He was a very good at stealing bases, while not being the fastest guy on the baseball diamond he did have impeccable timing and feel for the game and when he should take a calculated risk.
The 13 time all star was named rookie of the year in 1996 and won the MVP award in the World Series in 2000. He came close to the regular season MVP a few times and led the league in hits twice. While Derek Jeter is best known for his hitting ability, charisma and team leadership, many may be surprised to know he's won the Gold Glove award for best SS in the MLB five times and as recently as 2010.
I've always been a guy who judges what I see on the field during the games as I make my personal determination of where a player ranks among the rest so to speak. Baseball is a bit different as it truly is a game of numbers and that above all determines a players status whether you like it or not. So you have to look at the numbers and see how well rounded of a player Jeter is and was especially in his prime.
He has over 200 hits per season in eight different years spread throughout his career. The man does not miss games very doesn't miss games often. Baseball is a long season with 162 games and for those who make the playoffs even more. Everyone needs a little rest. Also, Jeter managed to stay healthy and in shape every year ready to play ball. A post season injury in 2012 was bad timing as it forced Jeter to miss virtually the entire season of 2013. Well he's back now and at it again. We may expect Jeter to DH more this year to try and make sure he remains on the field in his beloved Yankee pinstripes for the final time since Jeter is retiring at the conclusion of this season.