Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 20, 2007
BASEBALL: Jeter and 4,000

The broadcasters on one of the Mets-Yankees games this weekend were discussing the fact that Derek Jeter entered this season with only 2 fewer hits than Pete Rose at the same age, 2152-2150. Which does, in fact, suggest that Jeter has an excellent shot to pile up a truly impressive career hit total.

But a few cautions are in order. First of all, Jeter is 32; Rose averaged 201 hits per year from age 33-39 and played regularly until age 42 and semi-regularly until age 45. That's a tall hill to climb. Second, look again at that list of comparables for Jeter - 10 players, 9 of whom (all but Gehringer) had at least 1900 hits at age 32, and only Rose made it to 3,000 hits; only Rose and Gehringer got 1,000 more hits. The one of the comps with the most hits is Roberto Alomar, who had 2196 hits through age 32, and not only didn't he make it to 3,000, but only one of his ten comparables did either, that being Robin Yount, who was basically washed up at 34. In fact, check out the all-time career hit leaders through age 32:

1. Ty Cobb 2713
2. Rogers Hornsby 2476
3. Hank Aaron 2434
4. Robin Yount 2407
5. Jimmie Foxx 2370
6. Mel Ott 2366
7. Vada Pinson 2320
8. Joe Medwick 2307
9. Willie Keeler 2301
10. Sam Crawford 2292

You will notice that only Cobb, Aaron and Yount made it to 3,000.

Jeter, of course, is batting .341 after hitting .343 last season; he's showed no signs of slowing down that way (maybe afoot, as his steals are way down and GIDP are way up this year), and I do still think he will probably get to 3,000. But just bear in mind that (1) just as with 300 wins, it's what you do in your mid/late-thirties that really matters to getting to 3,000, (2) middle infielders have a notoriously poor track record of getting that far even with a big head start, and (3) it will take a really remarkable run for anyone to get to 4,000 hits, no matter how many years they stay with the pace.

One final note my older brother recently pointed out to me: another guy on these lists is Pudge Rodriguez, who may well have an outside shot to be the first catcher to 3,000 hits, and will likely end with the career record for hits by a catcher (unsurprisingly, since Pudge started at 19, has always carried a heavy workload, rarely walks or gets hurt, and even in his declining years still hits for a good average).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:06 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I agree with you that Jeter is almost certain to reach 3,000 hits. To go deeper and challange Rose he will need to change positions. He might be the Yanks solution at 1B for the next several years.

Pudge is an animal. It is amazing how picked his pace back up after shedding the bulk. Things that make you go huuummmm!!!!!

Posted by: maddirishman at June 20, 2007 11:14 AM

If the Yanks had shifted Jeter to 1b and put ARod in at SS, then Jeter would have had an improved chance and the team would have been better.

Posted by: Brendan at June 20, 2007 11:51 AM

In no way am I an Ichiro fan and I don't think Japanese stats are equateable to MLB stats but he does have a combined 2,678 hits at 32 going into this season. While he would not have been playing at 18 like he did in Japan we certainly would have been in the big leagues by 21 or 22 and given that he played sparingly at 18 and 19 and that Japanese seasons are about 30 games shorter than MLB it is not unreasonably to deduce that had he been in the US the whole time he would have a lot of freaking hits. I don't think Sadahara Oh is the greatest HR hitter of all-time but I do think it will be interesting (at least) to see where Ichiro ends up as far as hits. He never gotten less than 206, he has never played less than 157 games and he will likely always hit first. I don't think he will get another 1,354 hits over the next 6 seasons but even 1,222 would put him at 3,900 while still being less than 40. Again, not a fan, don't even think he's that great a pure hitter, but something to consider anyway.

Posted by: jim at June 20, 2007 1:19 PM

1B is a power position, the Yankees would never move Jeter there unless he increased his power....which is possible for him to do with a little more weight room time. If that happened, Jeter would have a better shot at 3,500+ hits. I suspect Jeter will come in around 3,300 hits...just beneath Mays on the list. If Jeter stays healthy.

Interesting about Pudge. He's got 575 hits to go to reach 3,000. He'd have to average only 115 hits for 5 years (making him about 40 yrs old), to make that. That's doable....and if he's anywhere near it and he's fading too fast, he could even end up a DH in Kansas City.

Posted by: Devon Young at June 20, 2007 8:27 PM

Crank, I was a huge Pete Rose fan growing up and I swear to God that I knew before he had 3000 hits that he was going to break Ty Cobb's record.

I am a huge Derek Jeter fan now and I have been saying for at least the last 3 years that he is the only person that even has a chance of catching Rose.

He has the right body type (not bulky) and mental outlook to stick around. He generally has been healthy. He plays for the Yankees and should be in a strong lineup for the majority of the rest of his career. In all likelihood, he is going to hit 3000 by what 37, 38? He has a chance. The weird thing is that unlike Rose, Jeter is not really driven by personal records.

Posted by: dch at June 20, 2007 8:37 PM

Crank, I was a huge Pete Rose fan growing up and I swear to God that I knew before he had 3000 hits that he was going to break Ty Cobb's record.

I am a huge Derek Jeter fan now and I have been saying for at least the last 3 years that he is the only person that even has a chance of catching Rose.

He has the right body type (not bulky) and mental outlook to stick around. He generally has been healthy. He plays for the Yankees and should be in a strong lineup for the majority of the rest of his career. In all likelihood, he is going to hit 3000 by what 37, 38? He has a chance. The weird thing is that unlike Rose, Jeter is not really driven by personal records.

Posted by: dch at June 20, 2007 8:37 PM

Crank, I was a huge Pete Rose fan growing up and I swear to God that I knew before he had 3000 hits that he was going to break Ty Cobb's record.

I am a huge Derek Jeter fan now and I have been saying for at least the last 3 years that he is the only person that even has a chance of catching Rose.

He has the right body type (not bulky) and mental outlook to stick around. He generally has been healthy. He plays for the Yankees and should be in a strong lineup for the majority of the rest of his career. In all likelihood, he is going to hit 3000 by what 37, 38? He has a chance. The weird thing is that unlike Rose, Jeter is not really driven by personal records.

Posted by: dch at June 20, 2007 8:37 PM

Crank, I was a huge Pete Rose fan growing up and I swear to God that I knew before he had 3000 hits that he was going to break Ty Cobb's record.

I am a huge Derek Jeter fan now and I have been saying for at least the last 3 years that he is the only person that even has a chance of catching Rose.

He has the right body type (not bulky) and mental outlook to stick around. He generally has been healthy. He plays for the Yankees and should be in a strong lineup for the majority of the rest of his career. In all likelihood, he is going to hit 3000 by what 37, 38? He has a chance. The weird thing is that unlike Rose, Jeter is not really driven by personal records.

Posted by: dch at June 20, 2007 8:37 PM

Crank, I was a huge Pete Rose fan growing up and I swear to God that I knew before he had 3000 hits that he was going to break Ty Cobb's record.

I am a huge Derek Jeter fan now and I have been saying for at least the last 3 years that he is the only person that even has a chance of catching Rose.

He has the right body type (not bulky) and mental outlook to stick around. He generally has been healthy. He plays for the Yankees and should be in a strong lineup for the majority of the rest of his career. In all likelihood, he is going to hit 3000 by what 37, 38? He has a chance. The weird thing is that unlike Rose, Jeter is not really driven by personal records.

Posted by: dch at June 20, 2007 8:37 PM

The main reason that Jeter has no real shot at the hits record is that he's a Yankee, he probably does not want to leave the Yankees, and the Yankees would not allow him to stay in the lineup as a below average offensive player for five year, as Pete Rose did. Jeter will eventually face the same choice Bernie Williams did - retire, stay on the Yankees getting 6-10 ABs a week, or go play for Tampa Bay. When that happens I expect he'll make the same choice Bernie did.

Posted by: Jerry at June 21, 2007 11:47 AM

Deon, KC alrady has their DH for the next 5 years. Billy Butler is going to fill that role and Pudge will not outhit him.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 21, 2007 4:50 PM

If Rodriguez were to get the last 3,or 4,or 500 hits of his career as primarily a DH,can you really say he was the first catcher to get there?I can cut a guy slack for moving to first base or the outfield (where he has to be a baseball player),but becoming a DH,especially a DH for a perennial non-contender like KC,just to pad stats (and draw a check) deserves a Maristerisk.This message brought to you by the Abolish the DH Foundation.
Jeter gets to 3000 without breathing hard.

Posted by: AnonE.Mouse at June 22, 2007 8:50 AM

Pudge won't be a good enough hitter late in his career to be a full-time DH. Like Brooks Robinson, his defense allowed him to hold down a major league job before he could hit, and it will continue to do so once he again can't, as well.

He will wind up with a decent number of hits as a DH, of course, but if he gets there, he'd be the first to do it mostly as a catcher, and that would be quite an acheivment.

Posted by: Jerry at June 22, 2007 10:18 AM
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