Looking to Break the Pete Rose Hits Record: All Eyes Are On Derek Jeter

Saturday November 3rd, 2012

Luke Whitecotton:  Pete Rose likes to talk baseball whenever he gets the chance to. When the subject comes up of someone breaking his all-time hits record, you know that Pete will always express his opinion. Since he is banned from baseball and will not likely ever make it into the Hall of Fame, you can’t help but think if this record is his “hall of fame”. That is likely why he is so protective of it. Pete Rose probably doesn’t want to hear that records are meant to be broken, and his one day will. But do any current active players even have a remote chance at the all-time hits record? There is a player out there who, if everything goes absolutely right, and the stars align could very well break this record. The climb to get there will be astronomical, and when you see the stats one would have to get in order to be successful, you probably will agree there is no way it will happen. Well in baseball if there is a will and a way, a record is probably going to be broken. Cal Ripken broke the record of most consecutive games played, which everyone thought that was unbreakable. Barry Bonds (who with a little help one might say), broke Hank Aaron’s home run record. And maybe one day someone will break the 56 game hit streak. So you see Pete Rose- someone could break your all-time hits record. With a little luck and skill, that guy is playing the game today. His name?  Derek Jeter.

No one can argue what Pete Rose did was remarkable during his brilliant career. He holds the record the most games played (3,562), the most at-bats (14,053), Rose played for 24 seasons (which is a rarity in today’s game), and he had a 44 game hit streak, which remains a NL record to this date. The record that is considered one of the best of all-time has to be Pete Rose’s 4256 career hits. Pete Rose was 45-years old when he retired and had is name in the history books passing Ty Cobb for the hits record. To get to 3000 hits is considered an automatic hall of fame induction, but Rose has 1256 more than 3000 which in my mind is just incredible. Considering that guys with 2000 or so hits are considered to have good careers. People can argue that Pete Rose was the best hitter of any generation. I would not dispute them, as to get stats like his, one has to have skill, but also a lot of luck.

Now for the uphill climb Derek Jeter faces. For one, he will have to want to play for a few more years and he might have to give up his coveted shortstop position. To play at the level that he will have to play at an age that nobody really thinks playing shortstop will be in the cards for him. I can’t recall a 40 to 45-year-old shortstop playing full-time at a high level. Another thing is Jeter will have to want to play until he is at least 44, and we all know he wants to retire a Yankee. But at the end of the day, I think the Yankees will have him on the payroll for as long as he wants to play. Jeter will have to play a little give and take in order to succeed. The issue will coe down to whether Jeter wanting to retire as a Yankee SHORTSTOP. As an organization, I don’t see the Yankees going that far. Age will definitely be a factor and you can mention the name Omar Vizquel who is 45, but he has not been an everyday shortstop for some years now. He has played other positions like 2nd and 3rd and in American League he has even been able to DH on occasion. One problem for Jeter will be if wants to play 2nd (remember Robinson Cano?) And unless Alex Rodriguez retires (Editor’s note: watch for that article soon on MLB reports), or goes somewhere else, one has to think 3rd base belong to A-Rod. The only solution in the forseeable future would be either the the DH spot our outfield for Derek Jeter. Frankly, I don’t see Jeter turning into a full-time DH our outfielder. You would want his presence in the infield as the captain of the team.

Now we ask what are the stats and benchmarks that Jeter needs to achieve to reach the all-time hits record. Well for one, IF he comes back healthy from a recent ankle fracture, you have to suspect he will be in the leadoff spot or second hole. Being in the top of the order, Jeter will get his at-bats. Take for instance his 2012 campaign. Jeter went on to bat .313 and have a Major League leading 216 hits. With those hits, Jeter did pass the great Willie Mays, and put himself 11 hits behind Eddie Collins. Now in his 18 years in the bigs, Jeter has hit 200 or more 8 times. He has averaged 183.5 hits a year in his career, and at the pace he has set, Jeter will need to play 5.2 more years to have a chance at this record. He trails Rose by 952 hits, and even with 4 good years at 200 hits a year, that leaves him 150 short. Even the four years is asking a lot. Does anyone really see Derek Jeter being the one who breaks this record? Derek Jeter hopes so. The Yankees hope so. And most importantly, Major League baseball would love to see this happen.

Remember this too: Yankee Stadium is considered a hitters ball park. Now that we have some numbers in front of us and see what it is going to take to get there, people are going to wonder whether Derek Jeter has the chance to surpass Pete Rose. He does… but I think it’s a small one.

For a guy like Derek Jeter who will be coming off an ankle injury and being what we consider old for baseball, realistically this record will probably not be broken. It will take too much luck and superior skill at an advanced age to occur. But I can’t help but then ask one final question: Does Derek Jeter really care? Now Pete Rose a legend, an all-star, a record holder will probably never have his name in Cooperstown with all the other baseball greats. Granted that is his fault, but his absence from Cooperstown probably remains the reason when this record gets brought up that Pete Rose gets on the defensive. For Jeter though, I don’t think he really will care as much as Rose because after all is said and done, he is the captain of the most famous baseball franchise in the world. An All-Star, a legend, a champion. Jeter also is the record holder of the most hits by a shortstop, has 5 gold gloves, and most definitely will be a sure-fire first ballot hall of famer. Heck, when he retires, the Yankees will build him a statute. After all, New Yankee Stadium is called “The House That Jeter Built.” That really says it all, doesn’t it?

All of his accomplishments to date for Jeter might be more important than some hits record. But if it is a high priority for him, with just 200 more hits, Derek Jeter will move him up to 5th place passing Honus Wagner, Paul Molitor, Carl Yastrzemski and Tris Speaker. Those are some of the most famous hall of famers of all-time. But for me, I think he will end up 3rd on the list above Hank Aaron (who has 3,771 hits) and right under Ty Cobb (who has 4,189 hits). For Derek Jeter, that would probably be just fine.

 (*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

About the Author:  Luke Whitecotton is a married and a father of two children Logan and Lilly. He lives in Illinois, about an hour from Chicago. Luke played and followed baseball his entire life. To him its the greatest sport in the world!  Luke hopes to communicate with all the great readers and fans at MLB reports, as he loves to talk about anything and everything baseball. You can follow Luke Whitecotton on Twitter (@stlrsfn1_luke)


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Posted on November 3, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Ty Cobb’s hit total was 4,191. Rose broke it with hit #4,192. I was there. Your facts need to be checked before posting.

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