Think it’s crazy to ponder the thought of Derek Jeter reaching 4,000 hits in his career?
Maybe, given that it’s been less than a season since he even got to 3,000. And if you mentioned it to Yankees manager Joe Girardi might agree with you.
“I think that’s kind of crazy to think about,” Girardi said prior to Monday’s game with the Twins. “You’re talking about five years of having to get 200 hits in a sense … I’m not ready to dive into that one yet.”
But all that said, it might not be as unachievable an accomplishment as you (or Girardi) might think.
Yes, he is far away. Through Monday’s game, Jeter had 3,105 career hits. So, even if he just maintained his career average of 192 per full season, he would, at that rate, reach 4,000 somewhere in the second half of 2016.
Sure, he’d be 42 years old at that point…but so what?
Skeptics thought he was waning down in 2010 and “done” at this time last year – but The Captain finished 2011 on a tear and has carried that into 2012. Jeter is hitting .378 through the season’s first 10 games, and as John Sterling pointed out during Monday’s radio broadcast, he entered Monday hitting .342 since last July 9 (aka the day he reached 3,000), a mark that even went up after his 2-for-4 night against Minnesota.
In addition, Jeter has had somewhat of a power surge this April. He has four doubles in 10 games – meaning he is on pace to match last year’s total of 24 by mid-June – and his leadoff home run on Monday was his third of the season. For reference, he hit six all of last year, and the third was that historic 3,000th hit on July 9, so what took him 87 games to accomplish in 2011 took him 10 in 2012.
For those who like to follow the “on pace” numbers, Jeter is on pace for 275 hits this season. That would be an MLB record, and it’s almost 100 percent likely he won’t get there…but it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see him get to 200 for the seventh time in his career and close in on 10th place all-time.
And then, who knows? Players like Paul Molitor, Cal Ripken, George Brett, and even Pete Rose – all members of the 3,000 hit club – hit just as well in their late-30s and early-40s as they did in their 20s. In fact, the former three of those men were older than Jeter when they hit 3K; Molitor, Ripken, and Brett were 39, and Rose was 37 (but a little deeper into age 37 than Derek).
So then, don’t be surprised if come a few summers from now, the first man to reach 3,000 hits in a Yankees uniform also becomes just the third ever to reach 4,000.
Sure, even in the likely best case scenario, he’d need to play through age 42 to do it. But Rose was 43 when he played his final game, Molitor was 42, Ripken was 41…and heck, if you want to extend it further, Dave Winfield was roughly two weeks shy of his 42nd birthday when he hit 3,000.
In that same Monday press conference, Girardi said (albeit in a different context) that he would “never, ever doubt Derek Jeter and what he could possibly do.”
Hey, they don’t call him “Captain Clutch” for nothing, right?