In just a few days, his wheel will stop spinning. His No. 2 will vanish into Monument Park. And the incredible numbers on Derek Jeter's stat sheet will freeze in time. Forever.
So what are the entries on his encyclopedia page that ought to pole-vault off the page at you? Here are 10 Jeter numbers I particularly love:
2,743 What’s that number? It’s the number of regular-season games Jeter has played in his career, every one of them for the New York Yankees. And how cool is that? The next-most games, by a man who played only for the Yankees, is 2,401, by Mickey Mantle. But even more cool is this: Jeter is one of just eight players in history who played that many games, all for one team. The others: Carl Yastrzemski (3,308 for the Red Sox), Stan Musial (3,026 for the Cardinals), Cal Ripken Jr. (3,001 for the Orioles), Brooks Robinson (2,896 for the Orioles), Robin Yount (2,856 for the Brewers), Craig Biggio (2,850 for the Astros) and Al Kaline (2,834 for the Tigers). Awesome group.
3,461 This, of course, is Derek Jeter’s hit total. And holy, schmoly, that’s a lot of hits. Heck, it’s more than Hank Greenberg and Shoeless Joe Jackson combined (3,400). And only five men in the history of baseball had more hits than Derek Jeter. See if they sound familiar: Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker. Wow.
2,673 Here’s another super-cool number. It’s the number of games Jeter has played at shortstop. And it's not only more games than Ernie Banks and Robin Yount played at short put together, but also the most games by any man in history who played one defensive position and never played anywhere else -- not even in the 19th inning, for one batter. Pete Rose played six positions. Ty Cobb played seven. Stan Musial played five (including pitcher). And Derek Jeter played one position. And only one. Now that’s how it ought to be done.
1,013 Can’t figure out why I love this so much, but whatever. Derek Jeter will finish his career with more than 1,000 multihit games. More than Tony Gwynn or Wade Boggs. More than Willie Mays or Rogers Hornsby. In fact, just three other hitters in the entire live ball era finished their careers in the 1,000 Multihit Game Club: Pete Rose (1,225), Stan Musial (1,059) and Hank Aaron (1,046). Pretty fair top of the order.
200 One of the most special Jeter numbers of them all. Why? Because he’s the only man in history who ever got 200 hits in the postseason alone. Now obviously, he got several more opportunities to get those hits than, say, Ernie Banks. But let’s put this in better perspective. In 158 postseason games, roughly the equivalent of a full season, Jeter wound up with 200 hits, 20 homers, 18 steals, a .308 batting average, a .374 on-base percentage and an .838 OPS. So how many active players have ever had a regular season like that? Exactly five. And one of them is (guess who?) Derek Jeter. Who of course also had a "season" like that in October. Against the best teams and the best pitchers, in the most pressurized games of his life. Don't tell me that's overrated.
11 Perhaps you think it’s no big deal that Derek Jeter had 11 seasons in his career in which he batted over .300 and finished with both double-digit homers and steals. But you want to guess how many other players in history have had 11 seasons like that? The correct answer, according to Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia: zero. Willie Mays had seven. Hank Aaron had six. Barry Bonds had eight. Name whatever high-average, power-speed guy you’d like. Ken Griffey Jr.? Seven. Alex Rodriguez? Eight. Frank Robinson? Five. It’s a reminder that Jeter could beat you in multiple ways. And did.
.377 Oh, all right, all right, I know that batting average isn't one of those stats that impresses the cool kids anymore. So how about this one? It’s Derek Jeter's career on-base percentage. And if you're not sure what to make of it, I can help. Since World War II, three dozen men have played at least 1,500 games at shortstop. You know how many of them had a higher career OBP than Jeter? Not one. Cal Ripken Jr. finished with a .340 OBP. Ozzie Smith wound up at .337. Alan Trammell had a .352 OBP. Among the shortstops of Jeter's lifetime, only Barry Larkin was even close, at .371.
92 From July 21, 2006 to May 16, 2007, Derek Jeter played in 100 games. He got a hit in 92 of them. Now once upon a time, in the 19th century, Wee Willie Keeler hit 'em where they weren’t in 93 out of 100 games. But since 1900, according to streak historian Trent McCotter, you’ll find only one other player who got a hit in 92 of 100. That was Ichiro Suzuki, in 2008 and '09. But it’s mind-warping to look at the list of guys who never did it. Ty Cobb. Rogers Hornsby. Honus Wagner. Tony Gwynn. Pete Rose. George Brett. But the shortstop for the New York Yankees, who never won a batting title or hit in more than 25 games in a row? He did. We mention it only because consistency was Jeter’s most important product.
6 Derek Jeter played for the Yankees when he was 20 years old. Derek Jeter also played for the Yankees when he was 40 years old. And he played for them at all the ages in between. Thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau, we know that doesn't happen much. He’s one of only six players who played for the same team at age 20 and after turning 40. The others: Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Brooks Robinson, George Brett, Cal Ripken Jr. There’s a word for that list: iconic.
1 Finally, there’s this astounding number. According to Elias, it’s the number of games Jeter has played, in his entire career, in which his team, the mighty Yankees, was mathematically eliminated from some sort of race for some sort of trip to the postseason. One meaningless game in 20 seasons? Whoa. On one hand, it would be nuts to argue that was all Derek Jeter’s doing. On the other hand, what defines his career better than that? A man who lived for the big game -- and played nothing but big games. For 20 years. What better way to put a frame around the career of one of the greatest shortstops who ever turned a 4-6-3?