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Derek Jeter: Stay 2 More Years, and Finish Top 3 in Hits?

Derek Jeter continues to break career records, and at this age, it’s no surprise. Earlier in the season. he eclipsed Lou Gehrig’s doubles record of 534, and most recently he passed Carl Yastrzemski for seventh on the all-time hits list. The hit was a quintessential Jeter base hit through the right side gap on a well executed hit-and-run. With this latest accomplishment, fans have to wonder how high he will move up on the hit list.

Jeter is currently only 10 hits behind fellow shortstop Honus Wagner, who ranks sixth all time with 3,430 career hits. But the thought is prevalent amongst fans: how much more the 40-year-old shortstop could accomplish if he didn’t retire at the end of this season.

Jeter will pass Wagner in the immediate future, and he will likely also pass Cap Anson shortly after that, who, by some accounts, has 3,435 hits, while others have him listed at 3,011 hits. But despite the controversy, the Yankee legend will realistically finish either fifth or sixth all time. Although it will be close, he does have the potential to finish fifth all time by passing Tris Speaker, who has an outstanding 3,514 career hits.

Regardless, Jeter will go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time, but it’s enticing for fans to think about him finishing within the top three.

If Jeter were to play another two years, let’s say, then he would certainly achieve that, or at least come close. And it seems like he could continue on, at least physically, if he wanted to.

Jeter looks healthy after a season plagued with injuries. He is ranked fifth in the league for average from a shortstop with a .278 clip. Albeit, his average is down from what he has hit for his career, which is .311, but his current average is pretty impressive when you take all things into consideration.

At the moment, the Yankee captain has 104 hits on the season and could conceivably pick up around 180 to 185 total by the end of the year. In 2010, he had a similar year when he batted .270 and collected 179 hits total for the season. Most critics thought that season would be the demise of Jeter, but he proved them wrong with a bounce-back year in 2011 with a .297 batting average, then again in 2012 when he hit .316 and led the league in hits with 216.

Even in this subpar year by Jeter’s standards, he has proven he can still play. Pete Rose said a couple of years ago that Jeter wouldn’t be able to break his all-time hits record of 4,256. According to ESPN New York in 2012, Rose had this to say:

I don’t think he can get 200 more hits at 41, but let’s say he does. OK, now he’s 42. He’s gonna get 200 more hits then? At 42? Let me tell you, I’ve been there; the body locks up. Jeter’s a great hitter … but he’s gonna get 200 hits when he’s 42? I don’t think he will. And even if he does all that, he’s still 150 hits short.

We won’t get to find out what would happen with Jeter at 41, or 42, but it does make us think about Rose’s hypothetical. If Jeter were to play an extra two years, he might not catch Rose or Ty Cobb, but surely he’d pass (if he were able to stay healthy) Stan “The Man” Musial and possibly the great Hank Aaron, who have 3,630 and 3,771 hits, respectively.

If he were able to accomplish that feat, that would mean he’d rank third all time in hits, but it would just be icing on the cake in what has been a marvelous career. And for Jeter, he’s never been one to fret over individual stats, but rather his focus has always been on team accomplishments.

His All-Star Game performance showed shades of his youth, when he made a diving stab to almost rob Andrew McCutchen of a base hit, followed up by his leadoff double in the bottom of the inning.  And if his All-Star Game performance was indicative of anything, it’s that the man can still play.

However, it’s understandable that Jeter wants to hang it up now, when he’s still on top. Yes, he may be fading a bit, but he’s still one of the better players in the game. Some players overstay their welcome, and in turn, they don’t get to retire in the fashion they want and with the team they began with.

For Jeter, who has lived a near-flawless legacy, now is the right time. But for fans, the thought of him staying longer seems tempting, knowing that he can accomplish even more than he already has.

Follow Evan on Twitter @Emoneyball22

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New York Mets: Nelson Cruz Was the Better Option over Young and Granderson

In years past, the New York Mets have been notorious for making deals that don’t pan out. While it’s still too early to determine whether Chris Young and Curtis Granderson will have a big impact for the team, one thing is for sure—they haven’t put up the numbers Nelson Cruz has so far in 2014.

Cruz, who was on the Mets radar during the offseason was passed up onto many fans dismay. Fans felt that being a proven star in previous years with the Texas Rangers would merit a signing from the New York franchise. But it was not to be, as is the case with the Mets in previous years.

If you recall, when Jason Bay was signed, Matt Holliday was an option on the table. Both had put up big numbers in the previous year and, at the time, deserved similar money.

Ultimately, Holliday chose to stay with the St. Louis Cardinals regardless, but both men were thought to have the same potential. Holliday, who still plays for the team, would go on to be an All-Star-caliber player, hitting at least .300 or close to it in all four years. On the other hand, Bay would go on to be one of the biggest busts in franchise history.

This is not to say the Mets could have known what the result of Bay’s contract would be, but the club always seems to be in a similar situation with these types of deals. A bad contract is dished out, and the team is stuck with a player for several years.

And here we are again; the circumstances feel all too familiarlike deja vu. The Mets passed up Cruz for Granderson and Young; the results haven’t been pretty thus far.

Cruz is posting some remarkable numbers, batting .282 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI.  He ranks second in the American League in home runs and shows no signs of slowing down.

Granderson is hitting a meager .206, with six home runs and 20 RBI. Additionally, he’s been a strikeout victim far too often, as he has accumulated 48 in 155 at-bats. Additionally, Young hasn’t performed up to his potential either, as he has been seemingly lost at the plate. Young is currently batting .206 with three home runs and 11 RBI.

Granderson was a more understandable signing for the team because some of the tremendous numbers he put up with the New York Yankees. However, the fact that the Mets could have picked up Cruz for virtually the same price as Young still has fans puzzled.

Though initially Cruz asked for more money and years than his current deal, a bigger contract might have also been worth the money for a hitter who had shown he was reliable in years past. The Mets could have been more patient on the market and saved the money for when the season grew closer to get Cruz or even Stephen Drew.

Looking at Young’s stats in years past compared to what Cruz has done seemed like a no-brainer. Mets GM Sandy Alderson has to do a better job of evaluating talent for his ballclub.

Young’s numbers in 2013 with the Oakland Athletics were below par. He hit .200, with 12 home runs and 40 RBI over 107 games. On the contrary, Cruz hit .266, with 27 home runs and 76 RBI over 109 games in the 2013 season.

Both have almost identical contracts, with Cruz making $8 million for one season and Young making $7.25 million.

Young in years past has never hit over .260 and is a very streaky hitter. He has shown decent power, but it has hardly been enough to elicit a contract worth $7.25 million. On a positive note, if he continues to struggle at the plate, the contract is only for the 2014 season. 

On the other hand, Cruz has been one of the better power hitters in the league since 2009 and has held a steady batting average through that time. Perhaps the downside and maybe the Mets took this into consideration, was the fact that he was suspended for using PEDs last year. This could have factored into their decision for not picking up the 33-year-old from the Dominican Republic.

The Mets did need to make a splash in the offseason to please the fanbase, which they did. But for fans it always feels like the team is doing a cannonball into the wrong poolnot getting the best players it possibly could.

The organization needs to thoroughly mull these offseason decisions over and make better choices with its contracts. Even the casual fan could have known that signing Cruz would have been the better option over Young. But for a team that constantly makes the same mistakes with player contracts, it comes as no surprise.


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Follow Evan on Twitter @Emoneyball22.

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