Jeter doesn’t need the props, but we’ll give them anyway

So, it is far too often that news involving the New York Yankees is blown way out of proportion.  A clubhouse tiff becomes fodder for pundits nationwide, a decent starting pitcher gets higher name recognition than a better pitcher on 75% of the other MLB rosters, or a promising prospect is incessantly hyped as “The Next Big Thing”.

It’s all so ponderous and predictable that it can sometimes be easy to tune out when there is news out of the Bronx that is worthy of our attention.

And, Derek Jeter‘s pursuit of the Yankees all-time hits record is just that. 

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter

Now, I’m not about to deify Jeter – he’s a great shortstop who rose to prominence in an era of great shortstops, many of whom (Miguel Tejada and current teammate Alex Rodriguez, for example) have been exposed as partial frauds, at best.  We hold our breath on Jeter, and hope that he never ends up on a positive test list.

But making the relatively safe assumption that he is clean, establishing an all-time record for a franchise as storied as the Yankees simply must be recognized. 

Jeter is three hits shy of tying Lou Gehrig’s franchise record of 2,721, although he missed a chance to make up some of that ground in yesterday’s doubleheader with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Even while pulling an 0-8, his first back-to-back hitless games in almost two months, Jeter remains a candidate to catch fire at any moment and end the anticipation that has put all eyes on the captain of the club with the best record in baseball.

MLB.com provides some great perspective on the milestone with statistical analysis of the Yankees’ hitting history to go along with a chart of the all-time team-by-team hit leaders.  Those numbers, through games of September 6th, look like this:
 
Tigers – Ty Cobb 3,900
Cardinals – Stan Musial 3,630
Braves – Hank Aaron 3,600
Red Sox – Carl Yastrzemski 3,419
Reds  – Pete Rose 3,358
Giants  – Willie Mays 3,187
Orioles – Cal Ripken Jr. 3,184
Royals – George Brett 3,154
Brewers/Pilots – Robin Yount 3,142
Padres – Tony Gwynn 3,141
Astros – Craig Biggio 3,060
Pirates – Roberto Clemente 3,000
Cubs – Cap Anson 2,995
Twins/Senators – Sam Rice 2,889
Dodgers – Zack Wheat 2,804
White Sox – Luke Appling 2,749
Yankees – Lou Gehrig 2,721
Angels – Garret Anderson 2,368
Mariners – Edgar Martinez 2,247
Phillies – Mike Schmidt 2,234
Rockies – Todd Helton 2,110
Indians – Napoleon Lajoie 2,046
Athletics – Bert Campaneris 1,882
Rangers/Senators – Ivan Rodriguez 1,734
Nationals/Expos – Tim Wallach 1,694
Blue Jays – Tony Fernandez 1,583
Mets – Ed Kranepool 1,418
Diamondbacks – Luis Gonzalez 1,337
Marlins – Luis Castillo 1,273
Rays – Carl Crawford 1,270

Note that these are not representative of total hits by player by career, but rather those that came while wearing the uniform of the franchise in question.

And while it is surprising, though not shocking, to note that no player in Yankee history has managed 3,000 hits during his Yankee tenure, it is rather hard to believe that not one of the 27 players who eventually reached 3,000 hits during their careers started out in the Yankee organization. 

Jeter is not leaving the Yankees for the foreseeable future and at his age (35), one would have to believe that he will end that streak as he is likely to reach the vaunted number sometime early in the 2011 season.

Appreciate him for what he is – a steady performer at one of the toughest positions on the diamond who has shined brightly in the glare of constant attention.  Four-time World Series Champion has a nice ring to it too.

And for a little perspective on the degree of difficulty of “making it” in New York, New York, just take a look back at that list and note that Ed Kranepool, the all-time hits leader during the nearly 50-year history of the crosstown Mets, sits at a number not even halfway to the magical 3,000.  And that’s why they are once and forever the Amazin’ Mets. 

As for Jeter and the Yankees, hold your nose a little if you must as you absorb the media’s obsession with all things Yankees.  But don’t let it detract from another huge accomplishment in a fantastic, Hall-of-Fame career.

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~ by acm213 on September 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “Jeter doesn’t need the props, but we’ll give them anyway”

  1. Not exactly on the subject, but close, Ichiro Suzuki just passed 2000 MLB hits, the 2nd fastest on record, he is about to set a MLB record of 9 straight 200 hit seasons, and counting his hits in Japan, now needs just under 1000 to pass Pete Rose’s total. At age 35, could very well achieve this, be elected to HOF, which Rose still must pay an admission ticket to get “in”.

  2. always been a fan of jeter even though i’m no yankee fan

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