At 38, Derek Jeter still going strongDespite prolonged slump, Captain tops among AL hits leaders
If you’ve watched and enjoyed the Jeter Era from Day 1, you probably feel older. Jeter began his career 17 years ago, but it’s OK to admit that it feels like yesterday and it’s hard to believe that Jeter is actually 38. It’s very easy to believe, however, that Jeter has morphed from high-school draft pick, to AL Rookie of the Year, to All-Star Game and World Series MVP, to Yankees Captain, and to a five-time champion.
A case for Derek Jeter the Hall of Famer – a first-ballot Hall of Famer – can be made in five seconds without any argument. Here’s yet another piece of evidence. He has 11 more hits than Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader, had before turning 38. Three more hits and Jeter will tie Cal Ripken Jr. with 3,184 on the all-time list.
Jeter’s current numbers (.303-7-35) look pretty good, but it’s been a masking agent for what’s been a troubling June. After 28 games the Captain was hitting .397 with a 1.034 OPS. Some toyed with the thought that Jeter could flirt with .400, but over his last 43 games he’s hitting .243. After batting .389 and .293 in April and May, respectively, Jeter’s June average is.231, which has dropped his clip 33 points. Over his last seven he’s .160 (4-for-25) with a homer and a run scored.
“I feel all right [at the plate],” Jeter told reporters at Citi Field before finishing last weekend’s three-game set 2-for-14. “Other than that, I feel all right.”
To know Jeter is to subscribe to the Alfred E. Newman signature phrase of “What me, worry?” Considered finished at this time one year ago, Jeter came off the disabled list to bat .331 with 41 RBIs over the season’s last 69 games, including the magical 5-for-5 game that earned him entry into the 3,000-hit club. Despite his June swoon, Jeter still led the American League with 93 hits in 306 at-bats entering Tuesday. Not too shabby for an “old man.”
“To think that he’s still doing it at that age is really truly amazing,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “I told him, ‘At our age, Derek, we don’t have to have birthdays anymore.’”
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