Derek Jeter announced yesterday, via Facebook, that he will retire after this season. Jeter’s retirement will mark the end of an era, as he is the last man standing from “The Core Four” dynasty. As much as there is a Love/Hate relationship with the Yankees across the country, Jeter has always garnered the utmost respect from all fan bases.
Jeter’s all-time great career has been unlike any other I have ever seen, whenever an anonymous poll would come out listing “the games most overrated players”, you would quite often find Jeter’s name at the top. Say what you will about his talent level, but his statistics speak for themselves. Jeter has a career .312 batting average, 3,316 hits, 348 stolen bases and 256 home runs. Keep in mind those numbers have come entirely while playing shortstop, a historically weak hitting position. Not impressed yet? Okay, well he was also named the 1996 Rookie of the Year, went to 13 All-Star teams (Game MVP in 2000), won 5 gold glove awards, honored as a silver slugger winner 5 times and won 5 World Series titles (Series MVP in 2000). If you ask me, I think those polls spoke more about who the most envied player in the game is.
Notable Yankee Team Records:
- Games Played (2,602)
- Hits (3,316)
- Stolen Bases (348)
Aside from all those accolades, what has really made Jeter an all-time great is his ability to rise to the occasion. His postseason statistics measure up to his career numbers, he has a .308 batting average, 20 home runs, 61 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 158 games. However, it’s difficult to measure Jeter’s postseason success on his numbers alone, there are so many defining moments that have cemented his place in baseball lore for years to come. Whenever there was a key moment in a game, he would somehow find a way to be involved. This isn’t basketball, you can’t always get the ball in your hands, in baseball, you are on the field with 8 other guys and have to wait your turn at bat, but Jeter always found the spotlight.
Notable Postseason Records:
- Games played (158)
- Hits (200)
- Run Scored (111)
- Total Bases (302)
Most players would die to have one historic moment to be remembered by, in Jeter’s case, it’s impossible to single out just one. You have his memorable “home run” caught by Jeffrey Maier, which swung the momentum in the 1996 ALCS. During the 6th inning of game 1 in the 2000 World Series, he gunned down Timo Perez at the plate to preserve a tie game that would ultimately lead to a victory. Who would have thought a relay play would become the defining play of that series? But that wouldn’t be the only one in his career, there was the improbable “Flip play” in game 3 of the 2001 ALDS, a play that jump started the Yankees who were trailing the series 2-0. Maybe the most famous of them all, his walk-off home run in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series which earned him the “Mr. November” nickname. The list is seemingly endless, these are just a small glimpse at what Jeter has accomplished on the grandest of stage of them all.
The best part about Derek Jeter is how he has handled himself both on and off the field. You will never read a negative tabloid regarding Jeter, maybe the occasional dating speculation, but he has even kept that under control despite his playboy status. There is no better role model for young players in the game today than Jeter. Everything he has done both on and off the field has reflected positively on the game of baseball.
Some guys would have let all that early success get to their head, but not Jeter, to this day you will still see him running full steam down that first base line, no matter the score. He is a dying breed among athletes, a throwback if you will, but there is a new wave of promising young stars in the game today. Hopefully they rise to the occasion and play the game that way it’s suppose to be played, embracing the Derek Jeter way. I may not have always rooted for him, as I seldom ever have, but I have admired Jeter as much as any other athlete I have ever seen. It has been a joy to watch his career in its entirety, he will be sorely missed.