At age 38, Derek Jeter has joined the best of the best

26 06 2012

I’ve already noted how strong the case is to proclaim Derek Jeter the greatest shortstop ever. On his 38th birthday, with Jeter having a bounce-back year, let’s examine where he stands among the all-time greats.

I’ve seen two different broadcast teams note that only Hank Aaron and Ty Cobb had more hits by their 38th birthdays than Jeter. That’s not to say he’s going to pass Pete Rose, who played too long in pursuit of Cobb’s all-time hit record. But he has a shot. And any way you compare Jeter to all-time greats, especially if winning counts, he’s moving into the elitest of baseball company.

We’ll start by noting that Cobb never won a championship and Aaron won only one, though we have to concede that Cobb’s base-stealing prowess and batting average and Aaron’s slugging probably still place them ahead of Jeter among the all-time greats. But let’s also note that neither played shortstop. If your achievements merit comparison with Cobb, Aaron and Rose, you’re already in rare company.

Of the 28 members of the 3,000-hit club, only Eddie Collins, with four World Series titles, approaches Jeter’s championship credentials. Rose, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker each won three. So Jeter stands alone for being prolific both in hitting and winning.

Jeter ranks 15th in hits all-time. Whether he plays long enough to catch Rose or not, if he stays healthy, he’s almost certain to reach the top 10 by next year. Read the rest of this entry »