Derek Jeter has done just about everything there is to do in professional Baseball. Win the World Series (five times), win World Series MVP (2000), win Gold Gloves (five-time winner), make the all-star team (soon to be 13 times). He’s even collected 3,000 career hits, joining an elite club. When it is all said and done, Jeter will be a first ballot, no doubt hall-of-famer – he may even be the first unanimous vote getter in history. As the 3,000 hit milestone, a home run against the Rays’ David Price in 2011, becomes further away in the rearview mirror, the big question now remains: will Derek Jeter eclipse 4,000 hits, joining only Ty Cobb (4,189) and Pete Rose (4,256) as the only men to do so? A lot of factors depend on it.
Today is of course the Captain’s birthday. He turns the ripe old age of 38, the age in baseball that signals the end is near, although you wouldn’t believe so by looking at Jeter’s stats in 2012. He’s hitting .304 with seven homers (had six last year) and 25 RBIs, although he’s slumped of late. Through 37 years of age and right up to 38, Jeter has better overall stats than Rose. Jeter has amassed 3,181, 1,809 runs and a .313 batting average compared to Rose’s 3,170 hits, 1,658 runs and .310 BA. Actually, only two players have had more hits before turning age 38 than Jeter: the aforementioned Cobb and Hank Aaron (3,272).
With age comes a decline in production, as it is very hard to increase performance, let alone maintain it. If Jeter were to continue his 1.27 hits/game career average, he would reach Rose in 847 games, which is more than five full 162 game seasons. Jeter would reach Rose at age 43, just shy of his 44th birthday. Would Jeter want to hang around that long? Would he still be with the Yankees? He definitely won’t be playing shortstop at that age. Jeter has had seven seasons of 200 plus hits in his career, the last coming in 2009. Right now he is 1,075 away from Rose. It seems daunting, but Jeter is amazingly ahead of the pace. It all depends if he really wants to stick around for that long, and if he remains healthy. Remember, Rose is the only man in baseball history to have 1,000 hits (1,086) after age 38.
If Jeter has four more decent years left in him, and he stays healthy enough to play in over 130 games a year, there’s no reason to believe he won’t make it to the top three on the all-time hits list. Aaron is third, a mere 590 hits away. Jeter would have to average 147 hits per year in order to reach The Hammer. In my opinion, Jeter’s chances to reach Rose aren’t that great. If Jeter shows no signs of slowing down, he could definitely hang around for another five years. No matter where he finishes, Derek Jeter will be among the greatest to ever take the field. Do you think DJ will reach 4k?