First Pitch: Can No. 2 end up No. 1?

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
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There seems to be no limit to how high Derek Jeter can go and no restrictions on what Derek Jeter can do.

At 38 -- an age when most players, even some of the greatest of all time, are tapering off -- Jeter is on pace to have one of the best seasons of his career. With 167 hits already, Jeter is on track to finish with more than 200 hits for the eighth time, and first time since 2009, when he hit .334. A career high of 220 hits is unlikely, but certainly not out of the question.

So how far can Derek Jeter really go?

Monday night in Chicago, Jeter leapfrogged Nap Lajoie in the fourth inning and pulled even with Eddie Murray in the seventh. Now there are only 10 names above Jeter on the all-time hit list, and you know every one of them. His four-hit night, including a home run, a double and two runs scored, was another milestone night in a career loaded with them.

When he homered in the sixth, he passed Graig Nettles for ninth on the Yankees' all-time home runs list with 251. As soon as his foot touched home plate, he passed Craig Biggio, another future Hall of Famer, for 14th on the all-time runs list.

So where does it end? Jeter is signed through next year, and if he wishes, can play for the Yankees in 2014 at a reduced salary.

But if this year ends up as good as it appears it will, and he has a season that is anywhere comparable to this one in 2013, there will probably be another Yankees contract in his future.

It is safe to say he will pass Willie Mays (28 more hits) this season. Eddie Collins, Paul Molitor, Carl Yastrzemski, Honus Wagner and Cap Anson presumably all next year.

That would leave only five more players to pass: Tris Speaker, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.

Which leads us to the Question of the Day: When all is said, done and written, where do you think Derek Jeter will end up? My guess is he ends up No. 4, behind only Aaron, Cobb and Rose. But who cares what I think? What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.

Up Now: My column on the continuing struggles of Joba Chamberlain, who after last night's implosion in the Yankees' 9-6 loss to the White Sox might end up an Empire State Yankee before the week is up. Also, Mark Simon of ESPN Stats and Info's statistical analysis of Jeter's big night.

Coming soon: A W2W4 on tonight's Game 2 of this three-game series, followed by clubhouse opening at 4:30 p.m. NY time, game at 8:05 p.m. Ivan Nova, struggling to find his own command, takes on LHP Francisco Liriano. I'll have the lineups and all the pregame news, so make sure to check in often. And as always, thanks for reading.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146