It’s been four days since New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced he’s retiring at the end of the 2014 season and in those four days, we’ve heard everything from, “he’s the best Yankee of all time,” to, “he was just a good player on great Yankees teams.”
No matter where you rank Jeter on your all-time list, there’s no denying he was one of the most clutch players to ever play the game. The intangibles he brought to Yankee Stadium for 18 seasons will never be matched by any player in any sport.
Jeter enters his 19th and final season with 3,316 career hits, which is good for 10th all-time. With one last Jeter-esque season, he could crack the list’s top five. He would need 199 hits, something he’s done eight times before, to stand alone at the fifth spot. But then again, it is quite a stretch to expect anywhere near 200 hits for the shortstop who will turn 40 years of age just before the All-Star Break.
It was only two years ago in the 2012 season when Jeter played in 159 games and tallied 216 hits. Though he couldn’t run or field a grounder in the hole like he used to, he looked pretty good at the plate. But then came the broken ankle in the playoffs, and he has only played 17 games since then. So now the real question becomes: how many games will he really play this season, and how many of those will strictly be from the DH spot?
I think Jeter is going all-out this season, not worried about preserving his body for future seasons, and that’s going to either make him or break him.
I’m expecting him to play around 150 games with about 100 of those at shortstop. He will still be sure-handed in the field, though his range has just about disappeared completely. He has support in the lineup with the additions of Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, as well as the return Mark Teixeira. If Jeter can stay healthy, he will be productive and not just that — he will bat .300 and score 100 runs.
No matter how many doubters there are coming into this season, we must remember that this is Derek Jeter we’re talking about. Nothing he ever does surprises us fans but at the same time, we watched in awe as he pulled a home run to left field for career hit number 3,000 and finished that day with four more hits. His career has been a pinstripe fairy tale, and this is the final act.
The Yankees are a much improved team from last year and even if they don’t win the World Series, you can bet Jeter will end his career with something that won’t surprise us — something I’m sure we will watch in amazement.