By Seth MacDonald
2013 was Mariano Rivera’s final season in the major leagues. This year will mark the final countdown for another lifetime Yankee and New York icon—Derek Jeter.
Jeter, who turns 40 in June, recently announced that he will retire following this season—his twentieth in the majors, in which he’s the franchise leader in games played, hits, at-bats and stolen bases. “This has nothing to do with the way I feel,” said the thirteen time All-Star to USA Today, “I feel great. I just feel the time is right after this year. There are things I want to do; you can’t do this forever.”
The captain of the Yankees since 2003, Jeter’s accomplishments speak for themselves. Aside from his thirteen All-Star selections and being a .312 career hitter, he’s a five time World Series champion, five time Silver Slugger, five time Gold Glove winner, two time Hank Aaron Award winner and was the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year as well as the 2000 World Series MVP. His 3,316 career hits are currently ninth most all time; and with 115 more, he’d take over sole possession of having the sixth most. It’s a longshot given his age, but exactly 200 more and he’d have the fifth most. Jeter’s not immune to 200-hit seasons as he’s done it eight times, tied for fourth most in history (Ichiro Suzuki and Pete Rose have done it ten times apiece and Ty Cobb has done it nine times).
Dubbed “Captain Clutch” for his postseason performance, Jeter holds numerous playoff records including games played (158), hits (200), doubles (32), triples (5), runs scored (111) and total bases (302). In addition, his 20 playoff home runs are third most, 61 RBIs are fourth and 18 stolen bases are sixth.
Jeter has been exceptionally noted for his consistency. Since his 1996 rookie season, he’s appeared in at least 148 games each year with the exception of three (119 in ‘03, 131 in ‘11, and just 17 last year as he dealt with a number of injuries). Also, since 1996 (excluding last year), he’s hit at least .290 in each year but one (.270 in ‘10), at least .300 twelve times and .322 or higher seven times.
Always very calm and classy, Jeter is known to be a true professional of the game and probably the most respected player of his generation by teammates, opponents, umpires and fans alike. Throughout his entire career he’s carried an above average work ethic and has avoided major controversy on arguably the most scrutinized team in professional sports. He’s often the first to defuse confrontations between teammates, even opponents; it’s also worth pointing out he has never been ejected from a game further demonstrating how he goes about his business. “In the 21-plus years in which I have served as Commissioner, Major League Baseball has had no finer ambassador than Derek Jeter,” said MLB commissioner Bud Selig in a statement recently following Jeter’s announcement.
I’m a diehard Red Sox fan, but I have always liked Derek Jeter. I have always respected his style of play and the way he carries himself on and off the field. I first started getting pretty big into the Red Sox and baseball in general at age twelve, and Jeter has been one of my favorite players since despite him playing for the rival Yankees. There really aren’t many things to dislike about Derek Jeter, no matter what team you are a fan of. Baseball will definitely miss one of its finest players after he retires, and it will be interesting to see what life after baseball has in store for the sure first-ballot Hall of Famer.