Derek Jeter is in the midst of his 20th and final MLB season, but we felt it was necessary to stop and salute the Yankees Captain on his 40th birthday. Once he hangs up his spikes at the end of 2014, there is no doubt he’ll be enshrined in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame on his first ballot. We’re all aware of the five World Series titles he’s brought to the Bronx since 1996, but some of his other career accomplishments are worthy of being pointed out.
The Yankee shortstop has never won an AL MVP award, but finished in the top-10 on eight different occasions. He took home the AL Rookie of the Year honors in ’96, following that breakout performance with 13 All-Star appearances, five Gold Glove awards and five Silver Sluggers. He currently has the narrowest of leads, but he’s the leading AL vote-getter at shortstop for this year’s midsummer classic in Minnesota.
There are others with better statistics than Jeter’s .268/.324/.327 line with two home runs and 17 RBI in 269 at-bats, but it will be a proper sendoff to one of the best shortstops to ever step foot onto a baseball field.
Jeter’s career .311/.380/.444 line entering Thursday’s action ranks in the top-10 all-time among shortstops. He hit .290 or better 16 times over his 20 years in the league, which included 14 straight seasons from 1996-2009. He currently has 3,388 career hits, ninth-best in MLB history. Given where he currently resides in the rankings, he only needs 47 more base hits to climb up to sixth.
Only five other players (Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker) will have gotten more hits than Jeter by the time he’s done. Each of them played at least two more seasons than Jeter, as well.
Not to only take a look at what he’s done at the plate during his time in pinstripes, he’s waged the test of time at the coveted spot at the diamond. Despite talk throughout his later years that he couldn’t play shortstop at a high level any longer, he found a way to stay there. Jeter enters Thursday with 2,608 games played at shortstop, second to only Omar Vizquel, who played 2,709 games there.
The closest active player is Jimmy Rollins, who has played shortstop 1,996 times. To even think about catching Jeter, Rollins would have to play every single game at shortstop for the next four years. Since he’s 35 years old, I don’t see that happening.
Playing for a storied franchise like the New York Yankees makes it hard to become one of the greats. Despite dealing with legendary players such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra (among countless others), Jeter has etched his own legacy that will soon be commemorated in Monument Park beyond the center field fence.
He’s all over the franchise record books, appearing in the top-10 for batting average, stolen bases, walks, RBI, home runs, doubles, hits and runs scored. He’s the only Yankee to accumulate 3,000 career hits, and is one double away from tying Lou Gehrig for the franchise lead. If he scores 58 more times, he’ll overtake Ruth for the top spot in that category, as well.
Clearly, it’s been a career for the ages for Jeter. When people say he’s one of the best players of this generation, it’s completely and utterly true. If someone disagrees, pointing to his statistics and World Series rings will state the case for him.
We’d like to wish the Captain a happy 40th birthday as he continues his farewell tour around the MLB.