If you knew absolutely nothing about baseball, never watched a single game, and just so happened to turn on ESPN one night when the Yankees are playing on Sunday Night Baseball , you might just think to yourself, “who is this young guy playing shortstop for the New York Yankees?”

It’s not surprising at all that Derek Jeter is off to one of the best starts in his career, but the shocker to many is the fact that he continues to perform at such a high level after just turning 36 and should be in the tail-end of his career.

Don’t tell him that! He still plays with the same hustle and grit that he did when he earned the Opening Day shortstop position in 1996.

Thirteen seasons and five World Series championships later, Derek Jeter is working toward getting the 3,000th hit of his career, as well as his sixth World Series championship, while remaining one of the best leaders and captains throughout Major League Baseball.

Granted, he is still 233 hits away from 3,000 , and will not reach the milestone until April/May of 2011.

I couldn’t help but think,though, does Jeter have a shot at 4,000+ hits?

If history tells us anything—at 35 years old, no, Jeter does not have a shot at reaching 4,000 hits.

In order to reach this plateau (which has only been accomplished by two other players in baseball history: Pete Rose and Ty Cobb), Derek Jeter will need to average 200 hits per season until he is 42. If he is able to accomplish that, he will need another 257 hits to pass Pete Rose as the all-time hits leader.

As unrealistic as that sounds, it is definitely doable for someone of Jeter’s caliber. He is rarely on the disabled list, in very good shape, and has shown no inclination that his career is ending anytime soon. The only question mark as to whether or not Jeter can reach this milestone is…what do the Yankees do with an aging shortstop?

Cal Ripken transitioned from shortstop to third base at the end of his career, but the Yankees already have Alex Rodriguez manning the hot corner. The only real option for the Yankees will be to either transition Jeter to a corner outfield spot (left field preferably), or utilize him as a DH (even though he doesn’t put up typical DH numbers).

Derek Jeter’s Stats through age 35 (click image for more stats)

Pete Rose’s Stats through age 35 (click image for more stats)

Jeter has averaged exactly 200 hits per season from 2004-2009 (ages 30-35). If he keeps up this pace, and the Yankees are willing to hold onto him as he gets older, he definitely has the chance to become the third player in Major League history to reach 4,000 hits.

When comparing Derek Jeter’s stats to Pete Rose’s through the age of 35, they’re almost identical with Rose only slightly ahead. Pete Rose’s advantage was that he played until he was 45 years old and averaged only 52 strikeouts per season throughout his career.

When looking at Rose’s stats, you will notice that his last 200-hit season was when he was 38. Jeter hasn’t reached that age yet, and for all we know, his stats could taper off and he might never come close to 4,000 hits.

We will have to wait and see how the next few years play out and see what the Yankees decide to do with their aging shortstop. Despite my arguments favoring Jeter to reach the 4,000 hit mark, I believe he will end his career just shy of 4,000 hits, but will make a very good run for it at the end of his career in pinstripes and finish with the third-most hits all time.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Derek Jeter will reach 4,000 hits by the time his career is over? Leave some comments with your thoughts.

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