"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

He Keeps Coming Up with More and More Hits

Joshua Prager, author of The Echoing Green, has a feature on Derek Jeter and Pete Rose’s all-time hit record today in the New York Times:

“The toughest thing about baseball is you don’t know why you’re doing — or not doing — this or that,” the player, Ichiro Suzuki, said.

Suzuki, a Yankees outfielder, had at that point amassed a combined 3,830 hits in Japan and the United States, a remarkable if unofficial total. But his annual hit total was set to decline for the third straight season. Was age to blame?

“It’s not that your physical body gains weight, but that your thinking gains weight,” said Suzuki, 38. He tightened a belt about a waist that had been 31 inches all his career and explained that expectation was a burden that only grew. The outside world always let you know when a milestone was in reach.

I also like this appreciation:

“I don’t think very many people understand how unique he is, as a hitter,” Bill James, the father of advanced baseball statistics, wrote in an e-mail. “At-bat after at-bat, he is able to hit the ball to right field NOT by swinging late, but by just clipping the inside of the baseball, hitting the ball off-center so that it flares off his bat to right field. Other people do it once in a while by accident, but I’ve never seen anybody other than Jeter do it constantly.”

I don’t think Jeter will catch Rose. Don’t think he’s that single(s)-minded. But it’s fun to consider, isn’t it?

[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]


1 rbj   ~  Aug 19, 2012 12:40 pm

Doesn't catch. 5 more 200 hit seasons? 6 167 hit seasons? Does Derek want to play that more, or could he be physically able to?

2 RIYank   ~  Aug 19, 2012 1:52 pm

So, now we aren't so sorry the Yanks didn't hold on to Melky, huh?

3 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 19, 2012 2:49 pm

[2] Did you see the latest 'Melky Wbsite' article?

Rose was a great hitter, but not only played well after he was done, but was a Player/Manager to get extra ABs. Jeter would never do that.

He needs 413 Hits to overtake Musial fior 4th place. He has a VERY outside chance of that.

267 Hits to pass to pass Speaker for 5th. I think that's his landing spot.

4 seamus   ~  Aug 19, 2012 2:58 pm

he'll get fifth for sure absent some major injury or something. As a hitter though, he is performing at a peak level this year. It's really quite amazing. To get 413 hits he really just needs two more quality, not great, seasons. He has a realistic chance of doing that in my opinion. Doesn't mean that he will. Catching Rose though would be a challenge because he'd have to want to do it. I agree that Jeter wouldn't try as hard as Rose in that way.

5 seamus   ~  Aug 19, 2012 2:59 pm

[3] Also, i just read that melky website article. OMG, that shows a level of duplicity behind his cheating that is disturbing. I always really liked melky and now i'm kinda pissed about that. It shows how little I really know about these players that I root for.

6 RIYank   ~  Aug 19, 2012 3:16 pm

I wonder how Rob feels.

7 rbj   ~  Aug 19, 2012 3:48 pm

Melky's going to be lucky if he only gets 50 games. Denials to the media are acceptable to me, as part of the dance, but this is beyond that. Does the CBA allow for additional time for this type of deception?

8 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 19, 2012 4:13 pm

Tigers score 5 in the first and then lose to the O's 7-5. Bums.

And the Angels are losing to the Rays again.


9 monkeypants   ~  Aug 19, 2012 4:15 pm

[0] It's easy to pick against Jeter catching Rose. Just about any time you are talking about challenging an all-time record, the odds are against a player doing it. But what I have been saying for years, if any player will break Rose's record, it will be someone like Jeter (or Ichiro, for that matter, had he played in MLB long enough).

The player that does it needs longevity, health, lots of hits, not too many walks. That's been Jeter so far.

He'll almost certainly to 200 hits this year and finish this season with around 3300 hit. Even an off season next year probably produces about 170 hits (the average more or less of his previous two seasons)...that gets him to 3470, or sixth all-time. From there, he needs 5 seasons averaging about 160 hits---i.e., he'll need to play the same number of seasons as Rose and Cobb, and keep up the same pace. If he has two more surprisingly good seasons between now and then, 4200+ looks more attainable.

Unlikely, of course. But then, that's why all time records don't fall very often.

10 Chyll Will   ~  Aug 19, 2012 4:16 pm

[7] That the Player's Association dropped their grievance so quickly would lead one to believe that it's in their best long term interest to make a deal of sorts as an example of their commitment to fighting against PED cheating... but in real life I doubt there's anything written about it in the CBA. They'd fight it in an instant on that basis alone.

What will likely happen is Melky will be low-balled, if offered anything on a major league level for a couple of years and have to rebuild his career in exile almost similar to Manny (which isn't saying much). Being that he's in his prime years, he's still got a small shot, but he's almost certainly shot out the window for a big contract.

11 monkeypants   ~  Aug 19, 2012 4:25 pm

[3] Rose led the league in hits (shortened season) in 1981, when he was 40, and followed that up with 172 hits in 1982. It was really only the last four seasons, in '83-''86, when Rose played like total shit, during which he accumulated about 400 hits total.

Following a similar trajectory over the next couple of seasons, Musial's spot is very attainable...no way a long shot. Beck, I think he has an outside shot to get Speaker by the end of next seasons, and he is still under contract (sort of) for another season beyond that.

12 Chyll Will   ~  Aug 19, 2012 4:28 pm

[9] You also have to factor in whatever the Yanks' needs are in the coming years; there's no one in the system that remotely steps in Jeter's shoes at SS or with his bat in the next few years, so unless they trade for or draft someone special (or if Nunez is abducted by aliens and returns as Cal Ripken's young clone) I can see Jeter continuing on year-to-year contracts until they can find a legit replacement for his production.

13 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 19, 2012 4:50 pm

11) And as the article discusses where does Jeter play in the field once he reaches 42, 43, if he still wants to play? If you want a record like that you need to be lucky, and durable, hope that you can keep your skills, and be a freak to get that record above everything else.

14 monkeypants   ~  Aug 19, 2012 5:20 pm

[12] He has the advantage of DH, which Rose did not. It would not be inconceivable, if he wanted it bad enough, that he becomes more of a part time player---say 120 games a year. It would then be much easier if he played a bunch at DH, some still at SS, and maybe at one other position (1B)...again, if that's what he wants.

Of course, if he remains moderately productive, it's justified to leave him at SS.

It will be interesting in the coming couple of years to see if he makes a position change (i.e. to 3B). That will tell us if he is eying the record or not, I think.

15 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 20, 2012 8:59 am

I am late to this, but my guess is that Jeter does not do it. He certainly has the will to catch Rose, but I'm guessing his body does not hold up. Shortstop is a very demanding position from a physical point of view. Even with the DH slot to potentially fall into, there's already a ton of mileage on Jeter's legs, knees . . .

By the time he was 38, Rose had shifted to first base full-time. Jeter is going to play SS until he can't, and by that time, he might be done. I just don't see him playing out the string, even at 120 games a year, if he's not playing short the vast majority of the time.

Maybe I'm reading a DiMaggio-esque quality into Jeter that isn't there, but I just can't see him accepting a job as mostly DH-1B guy. If he doesn't do that, he doesn't catch Rose.

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