The headline really should read New York Yankees' Captain Derek Jeter having a season for the ageless. Yes, the 38 year old shortstop for the most iconic franchise in sports isn't just hanging on at the end of a career. He is elevating it to a whole new level. No one in the history of baseball has played the position of shortstop at this age and been as productive as the Yankees' Captain.
Though Jeter was raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan he was born in New Jersey and spent many summers during his childhood with his maternal grandparents in the state of his birth. New Jerseyans are mostly multiple generations of a blue collar, family oriented breed that works and plays hard. They also have that little chip on their shoulder in the shadow of the big city proving they are a force to be reckoned with and that "Jersey attitude" of we are as good or better than what others give us credit for and Jeter is the same way.
His first season in the minors he made 56 errors and would call home thinking this may not be for him. Derek persevered through the ups and downs and continued to make himself better. All the work paid off when he started for the Yankees as a rookie in 1996 and nobody new at that time they were seeing the beginning of a legend.
Now in his 18 season at the ripe old age of 38 that skinny kid from Kalamazoo is a future first ballot Hall of Famer. Jeter leads the American League with 189 hits, plate appearances (636) and at bats (590) and with a batting average of .324 is in a battle for AL batting champion. Derek is on pace to have another 200 hit season, the eighth in his illustrious career. Jeter passed the great Honus Wagner who held the record for hits by a 38 year old shortstop with 181. Derek continues to defy the test of time and after readjusting his swing to the way he had always hit last July while on the DL he has hit over .300. Once he reached 3,000 hits he seemed to relax more and has carried that over to the current season.
It's been rather unprecedented that a 38 year old has played the position of shortstop with the effectiveness and durability the way Derek has done. He has played an average of over 150 games in 14 of his 18 seasons and this year so far he has played in 138 games one behind team leader Robinson Cano.
There have been 13 10-homer seasons by shortstops age 35 or older, and Jeter is the only player to have three of them. Derek is one of four players to get over 170 hits at the age of 37 or later. They include Honus Wagner, Luke Appling (180 at the age of 39) and Omar Vizquel (171 at the age of 39).
Derek is setting historic stats in being named with the same two greats of Honus Wagner and Luke Appling. At his current pace he will join them as the only players to have over 600 appearances and an OPS over 110 at the age of 38 or older. Only one 38 year old at any position has led the league in hits and that was Paul Molitor with 225 in 1996 at the age of 39.
Currently, Jeter leads the Major Leagues with 58 multi hit games, is batting an American League high .376 against LHP and is batting .343 and 44 runs scored since July 1.
Jeter has 3,271 hits and I won't even bring up Pete Rose because Jeter would need to play for a least four more years and have 200 plus hits every year to reach 4,000. However, the Captain will probably finish in the top three all-time in hits before it's all said and done.
Many have had MVP seasons, but no one has been more consistent year in and year out which is Jeter's greatness strength. The 13th time All-Star and five time World Champion has been a special player for many years and hopefully a few more before he decides to hang up his spikes for good and the Yankees retire number 2 to Monument Park.
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