Where will Derek Jeter rank all-time in hits when he retires?

Jim McIsaac

With Jeter retiring at the end of the 2014 season, it's time to figure out what's still achievable in his career.

It was fair to wonder if 2014 would be Derek Jeter's final MLB season, but we don't have to guess anymore, as the Yankees' great has admitted as much. Now that we know when his career will end, we can start to take a look at what he has accomplished, and what he can still accomplish with the season he has left. Specifically, we can try to guess where Jeter will finish on the all-time hit list.

Jeter already ranks 10th all-time, a mark he reached in 2013 before shutting things down due to injury. He's currently one hit ahead of Eddie Collins, with 3,316, and doesn't have a single active player* to worry about until #32 on the list, when teammate Alex Rodriguez and his 2,939 hits show up. Depending on his health, playing time, and just how much production he has left at the end of his career, Jeter could move anywhere from a single spot on the list all the way up to fifth all-time.

*Rickey Henderson is technically inactive, but if he manages to talk himself into a job at age 55, he's at 3,055 hits.

Rank Player Hits Hits Needed
1 Pete Rose 4,256 941
2 Ty Cobb 4,189 874
3 Hank Aaron 3,771 456
4 Stan Musial 3,630 315
5 Tris Speaker 3,514 199
6 Cap Anson 3,435 120
7 Honus Wagner 3,420 105
8 Carl Yastrzemski 3,419 104
9 Paul Molitor 3,319 4
10 Derek Jeter 3,316 0

It'll take just three hits to tie Paul Molitor, and a fourth to pass him. Easy enough, even if Jeter has a final season to forget. Passing Yaz and Wagner will be more difficult, but if Jeter is healthy, he'll get those hits. The same can likely be said for Anson, assuming health: if Jeter picks up 500 at-bats and gets 120 hits, that's only a .240 batting average. For reference, Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projects Jeter to bat .275/.333/.356 over 523 plate appearances, and ZiPS, with a more pessimistic line, still has Jeter hitting .259 -- if he's on the field, he'll best Anson. (If he's not on the field, Jeter also technically bests Anson, since hundreds of Anson's hits came before the formation of the National League.)

Tris Speaker and the fifth spot all-time is where things get sketchy. In 2012, Jeter collected 216 hits and batted .316/.362/.429 over 159 games and a league-leading 740 plate appearances. It was right around his career levels in terms of offensive excellence -- he's compiled a .312/.381/.446 line in 19 years, with a 117 OPS+ slightly better than 2012's 114 mark. He would need to be nearly that good to achieve this feat, and at age 40, predicting that would be foolhardy.

It's not impossible, of course. If Jeter's foot and ankle are healthy and he doesn't miss any time, and he's simply hanging it up because it's time to move on and not because he's lost his touch at the plate, then it's feasible, albeit still unlikely. It would certainly be a farewell tour to remember if he's still realistically chasing Tris Speaker for a top-five spot on the all-time hit list come September, though.

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